Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are only 60 miles from Chicago. It is hard to believe a place so scenic is found so close to the big city. There are six separate bands to the dunes here along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The first is Lake Michigan itself. The next five moving gradually inland include the beach, sedge grass, the actual dunes, hardwood forest, and the great swamp. This photo essay will be separated just like the geography of the dunes.
This photo essay is in honor of my upcoming trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. Many consider this park the mack daddy of the dune parks, so I am excited to check it out as it could not be much prettier than the Indiana Dunes. It is always great to check off a new national park when adventure traveling in the United States.
One of the most beautiful freshwater lakes in the world and one of the biggest, Lake Michigan is gorgeous whether you are looking at Chicago’s skyline, Door County in Wisconsin, or any of the number of amazing dune parks found in Indiana and Michigan.
Most people come here for the beach. It is probably the best swimming hole near Chicago, so it is no wonder that the beautiful sandy beaches are packed on hot summer days. It does not take long to walk from the main beaches and find a slice of solitude for those who do not enjoy the crowds.
One area of the dunes that really surprised me when I first visited was the beauty of the sedge grass in between the actual dunes and the beach. In summer it can be bright green and in the autumn golden brown.
The central feature in the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore is of course the dunes.
This is as far as a lot of people get when visiting the Indiana Dunes, but there is much more in store for the adventure traveler. Many trails explore the interior through hardwood, pine wood forests, and swamps. The forest is amazingly lush with an amazing array of ferns and wildflowers. The trails through the woods are also a great place to cross-country ski in the winter.
The great swamp
Past the woods in the Indiana Dunes lies the remnants of the great swamp, which used to run almost the whole length of northwest Indiana. Much of it has been drained to make way for cities, but inside the Indiana Dune parks stretches of it are alive and well. For those who come in the summer, swamps mean mosquitoes and at times they can be fierce. Make sure to bring repellant if hiking in the woods or camping.
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