Stretching 15 miles along Lake Michigan’s southern shores lies a long, skinny patch of approximately 15,000 acres of sandy beaches, beautiful trails, diverse ecosystems, and unparalleled natural scenery that is sure to delight any tourist. Indiana Dunes National Park has been captivating visitors since opening to the public in 1926.
Today (after gaining national park status in 2019), the park remains a national attraction, with approximately 60% of visitors coming from outside the state of Indiana. RV camping near Indiana Dunes National Park is the best way to fully experience this mesmerizing landscape. Continue reading to discover some intriguing facts about Indiana Dunes National Park.
Indiana Dunes National Parks Facts
Before loading up the RV with all your camping gear, learn more about one of America’s most beloved national parks. Read on for some intriguing Indiana Dunes National Park facts.
Indiana Dunes National Park ranks as the country’s 4th most biodiverse park with approximately 1,960 species.
Approximately 30% of Indiana’s endangered plant species can be found in and around the park.
Indiana Dunes is the closest national park to the following cities: Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Milwaukee.
The park was designated as a national lakeshore in 1966.
While the park opened to the public in 1926, it wasn’t until 2019 that Indiana Dunes was established as the country’s 61st national park.
The park is home to over 15,000 acres of dunes, prairies, rivers, and forests.
Indiana Dunes State Park vs. Indiana Dunes National Park
Some may be a little confused about the difference between the state and the national park that holds the same name. So what’s the difference?
Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Park are two separate protected areas located in Indiana, United States. While they share a similar name and are located in close proximity to each other, there are some key differences between the two:
Ownership and Management
Indiana Dunes State Park is owned and managed by the state of Indiana. It is one of the 32 state parks in Indiana and falls under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Indiana Dunes National Park, on the other hand, is a national park and is part of the National Park System of the United States. It is owned and managed by the federal government through the National Park Service (NPS).
Indiana Dunes State Park is smaller in size compared to Indiana Dunes National Park. The state park covers approximately 2,182 acres.
Indiana Dunes National Park is larger, encompassing about 15,000 acres, making it significantly larger than the state park.
Natural and Cultural Resources
Both parks are known for their sand dunes along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, but Indiana Dunes National Park offers a more extensive range of ecosystems and natural features. It includes dunes, forests, wetlands, and unique geological formations.
Indiana Dunes National Park also contains a greater diversity of plant and animal species and is recognized for its biodiversity.
Indiana Dunes State Park is easily accessible from the nearby town of Chesterton, Indiana, and it has its own beach, campgrounds, and amenities.
Indiana Dunes National Park encompasses several different areas, including the previously established Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which has various access points and visitor centers throughout the region.
Indiana Dunes State Park has been a state park since 1925.
Indiana Dunes National Park was designated as a national park more recently in February 2019.
While both Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Park offer opportunities for outdoor recreation and feature sand dunes along Lake Michigan, the national park is larger, federally managed, and boasts a greater diversity of natural resources. Visitors can enjoy unique experiences in both areas, and they are often considered complementary destinations for those interested in exploring the Indiana Dunes region.
Now that you understand the history of Indiana Dunes National Park, it’s time to look at some of the Indiana Dunes camping options for RVs and their unique features.
Best Indiana Dunes National Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
Indiana Dunes National Park RV sites are designed to provide visitors with comfort and stability during their visit to this ecological wonderland. Below are some of the best Indiana Dunes camping options that you should consider for your next visit.
Amenities: Located a mile south of Lake Michigan, Dunewood Campground is a convenient destination for travelers who want access to basic sanitary facilities, such as modern restrooms, shower facilities, and convenience stores. As a bonus, visitors can spend some quality time at Lakeview, Michigan, located just 1.5 miles from the campground.
Capacity: 53 sites
Price: $25 per night
More Information: Dunewood Campground
Indiana Dunes State Park Campground
Amenities: Considered one of the most popular RV campgrounds in Indiana Dunes National Park, this campground serves as a prime destination for campers seeking access to outdoor adventures within proximity. These include, but are not limited to, sailboarding, surfing, hiking, and water skiing. In addition to receiving full electrical hookups, visitors stay within a mile from the beach.
Capacity: 134 sites
Price: Starting at $23 per night
More Information: Indiana Dunes State Park Campground
Lakeshore Camp Resort
Amenities: If you’re looking for a campground with customized cabins, multiple recreational activities, and themed weekend specials, then look no further than Lakeshore Camp Resort. This campground is a perfect stay-in location for families who desire a lively camping experience with basic amenities and a way to make meaningful memories. Plus, the campsites are equipped with 30 amp electricity, picnic tables, and fire rings.
Capacity: 115 sites
Price: Starting at $54 per night
More Information: Lakeshore Camp Resort
Sand Creek Campground
Amenities: Described as a peaceful and “family-oriented” campsite, Sand Creek Campground offers a subtle yet comfortable experience for tourists and their families. Campers can look forward to the beauty of the natural landscapes coupled with park amenities such as playgrounds, walking trails, tent campsites, and 30/50 amp sites.
Capacity: 195 sites
Price: Starting at $40 per night
More Information: Sand Creek Campground
Woodland Village RV & Mobile Home Park
Amenities: A list regarding RV campgrounds in Indiana Dunes National Park would not be complete without mentioning Woodland Village RV & Mobile Home Park. Located 5 miles from the Portage/Ogden Dunes train station, this campground operates as a convenient stay-in location for tourists. This is evident by their full hookup RV sites, upgraded sewer lines, and access to cable tv.
Capacity: 70 sites
Price: $50 per night
More Information: Woodland Village RV & Mobile Home Park
Best Time to Go Indiana Dunes Camping
There’s no shortage of ways to experience this mesmerizing park, even as the seasons fluctuate. Continue reading to discover when the best time to visit Indiana Dunes National Park is for you and your family.
Don’t be discouraged by Indiana’s cold air masses. While Indiana hovers at around 21 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit in January, visitors can engage in several winter activities, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There’s no need to worry about an RV winter camping experience. Please note that hikers must bring their snowshoes and cross-country skis for the park’s trails.
By mid-April, Indiana transitions from a snow-covered state to a sunshine paradise, coupled with green scenery and occasional rain showers. The average high temperatures linger between 58 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Springtime visitors at Indiana Dunes National Park can explore the dunes, hit the beach, and experience some blooming flowers by the Heron Rookery Trail.
RV camping near Indiana Dunes National Park can be a pleasant summer experience for those seeking clear skies and abundant wildlife. Please note that Indiana experiences high levels of humidity around August, so plan accordingly when visiting during the summer. For those looking to hit the beaches, this would be the best time to visit Indiana Dunes National Park.
The beginning of the autumn season is marked by average high temperatures between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, while night temperatures hover between 50 and 60 degrees. What’s unique about autumn at Indiana Dunes National Park is the explosion of vibrant autumn colors. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Porter Brickyard Bike during this season to experience the breathtaking views of changing leaves.
RV camping in Indiana Dunes National Park can be a wonderful experience regardless of the season. With endless activities every time of year, you won’t want to skip this park on your next road trip.
Things To Do in Indiana Dunes National Park
There’s always something for everyone to enjoy at one of America’s most wondrous national parks. Continue reading to learn more things to do in Indiana Dunes National Park.
Hiking. With 14 distinct trails that cover more than 50 miles, it’s no wonder why hiking is such a beloved activity at this national park. The trials vary in terms of length, difficulty, and terrain, so you can select a hike that is well suited for your physical capabilities.
Biking. If you’re in the mood to explore the park’s dunes or traverse the cultural aspects of this park, then consider biking for your adventure. You have the option of biking on multiple paved and gravel bike trails. Keep in mind that E-bikes are only allowed in areas where traditional bikes are allowed.
Swimming. Indiana Dunes National Park has nine distinct beaches along Lake Michigan’s southern shore, allowing visitors to fully experience a summer sunset and multiple recreational activities. Keep in mind that West Beach is the only beach with lifeguards, so be sure to exercise caution if you bring your children.
Sightseeing. Take a break from nature and immerse yourself in the culture and history that Indiana Dunes National Park has to offer. There are three historical landmarks you can explore: The Bailly Homestead, the Chellberg Farm, and the Good Fellow Youth Camp.
Picnicking. For something more subtle and relaxing, consider setting up a small picnic gathering with the family. Best of all, visitors can make reservations ahead of time (six months in advance) at two picnic shelters: the Bailly Chellberg and the West Beach.
Kayaking. Explore the vast waters that Lake Michigan has to offer by going kayaking. Visitors will be pleased to note that hand-carried boats are permitted on any beach except for West Beach’s lifeguard swimming area. Be sure to check the weather forecast before paddling along the beaches.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of things to do in Indiana Dunes National Park. It’s just a matter of finding the right experience.
Wildlife in Indiana Dunes
There are plenty of wildlife species present in Indiana Dunes National Park. You just might see some of the species listed below, including:
Eastern gray squirrels
Little brown bats
Please remember to keep your distance from wild animals and never attempt to feed any animals.
Tips on Visiting Indiana Dunes National Park
Before heading out for an RV rental Indiana Dunes National Park experience, be sure to go through these tips.
Do not swim in or around areas where rip current signs are posted. Even the strongest swimmer is no match for them. If you get caught in one, be sure to swim parallel towards the shoreline and away from the current.
Avoid walking on shelf ice in or around Lake Michigan’s edges. People can easily fall through hidden holes and weak spots.
If you’re planning on visiting any of the park’s beaches during the summer, be sure to arrive early to find parking spots as they can fill up by mid-morning.
Anglers are required to have an Indiana Fishing License and a stamp for catching trout and salmon.
Horseback riding is only permitted on a specified location on the Glenwood Dunes Trials from March 16 to December 14.
Consider visiting during the fall if you plan on hiking the park’s sandy hills.
With that taken care of, it’s time to select proper transportation to enhance your RV rental Indiana Dunes National Park experience!
RV Rental for Indiana Dunes National Park
What better way to fully experience an RV camping Indiana Dunes National Park trip than with an RV set up for your adventurous lifestyle? With Cruise America, adventurers and travelers can select from multiple customizable RVs suited to their preferences.
Whether you’re embarking on your first family RV adventure or a multi-day backpacking trip to the Rocky Mountains, Cruise America will ensure that you take the comfort of your home on the road. It’s a sure way to fully experience the outdoors without the hassles.
Get started on your RV rental Indiana Dunes National Park needs by browsing RV rentals with Cruise America.