The shores of Lake Michigan just got a new national park. On Tuesday, February 19th, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was upgraded to a national park, making it the 61st national park in the National Park Service system and the first in Indiana. The major upgrade came from a bi-partisan effort by a slew of lawmakers in the state and years of legislative uncertainty. Located in Northwest Indiana, the park includes 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, visitor beach and camping access, and 15,000 acres of biodiverse beaches, woods, prairies, and marshes.

National Park Service Adds Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana’s First

a wooden stairway on top of a grassy sand dune

Image from The Dyrt camper Jen L.

More than 3 million visitors come to the Indiana Dunes each year, and senators who pushed this effort hope the name change will attract even more visitors from around the country.

“This action provides our shoreline with the recognition it deserves, and I hope further builds momentum to improve open and public access to all of our region’s environmental wonders.” U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, said in a statement. The park sits about 50 miles from the Chicago Metropolitan Area.

Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz commented, “103 years in the making, what a terrific tribute to the neighbors, partners, visitors and National Park staff. We are so appreciative to the entire Indiana delegation for their recognition and support of this national treasure.”

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

Kevin is the Assistant Editor for The Dyrt, with bylines in National Geographic Traveler and Atlas Obscura. Although originally from the swamps of Washington, D.C., he's now based in the trees of Portland. He's been interested in geography and travel since seeing his first map as a kid, and is now working toward seeing it all in person. You can find him exploring the coastal beaches or a record store in his free time.