Day 73, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Indiana Dunes National Park
Author’s Note: At the time of my visit in 2018, Indiana Dunes was designated as a National Lakeshore. To avoid confusion, I am using the National Park designation it currently holds.
From my family in Galesburg, Michigan, I drove about an hour and 40 minutes to Indiana Dunes National Park. I was back in Indiana and had a chance to do some state sign posing! It is located along about 20 miles of Lake Michigan, with the western part of the park located in Gary, Indiana.
Indiana Dunes protects the sand dunes along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, located about an hour from Chicago. This area of the lakeshore had many steel mills, and glass companies at the turn of the 20th century found the sand ideal for their glassmaking. As a result, the dunes were shrinking from all the sand that was being trucked away, and pollution was a huge problem.
Indiana Dunes was authorized by Congress as a National Lakeshore in 1966, and its designation upgraded to National Park status on February 15, 2019 by President Donald Trump. In 2020, annual visitation was approximately 2,293,000 people. As it is only about an hour from Chicago, it makes for an easy day trip.
I checked out the Century of Progress Architectural District, a collection of five homes that were relocated to this area after the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. These homes are privately owned, so you can’t see inside, but it is interesting to see the outside! The architectural style of the time was very unique and these are good examples!
Indiana Dunes has several trails to the lake, and is a well known spot for birdwatching. So I wanted to check it out! I hiked the Dune Succession Trail, a one mile trail that included some dune habitat, grasslands, deciduous forest and of course, the beach and excellent views of the lake. There were also quite a few mosquitos – YUCK!
I didn’t do too much exploring that day, as I was getting acclimated to traveling again, but there is lots more to see at the park, including more historic homes and farms and many more trails. I will have to go back there sometime to check it out! After my visit I got back on the road and headed south to the KOA campground in Springfield, Illinois. I was going to be heading west along I-70 and was making my way south to do that!