The last stop on our spring parks trip was Indiana Dunes National Park. This Park was upgraded from a National Lakeshore to a National Park in February 2019, making it America’s 61st National Park. Indiana Dunes is located just an hour outside of Chicago, which is where we would be staying for the next two nights.
This had been a special weekend for me. Even though these three parks (Hot Springs, Gateway Arch, & Indiana Dunes) aren’t the most popular or jaw-dropping parks, we were road tripping through the Midwest to see them all, which made it more fun. I’m from the Midwest originally, so it was special to be back on my stomping grounds. Plus, at our last stop in Chicago, we would be staying with my college roommate who I had not seen in 7(!) years. I couldn’t wait to see her– a lot of life happens in 7 years. Two days was not nearly enough to catch up, but we hit the ground running and did our best.
My friend who I travel with had never been to Chicago (or the Midwest) before, so we all did our best to introduce her to as much as we could. We had Chicago beef sandwiches, went out in Wrigleyville, and ordered deep dish pizza all in our first night.
The next morning, we recovered with some liquid IV and coffee and headed for the national park. Before we headed for the Midwest for the weekend, it was forecasted to rain the whole time. We had missed most of it up until this point, but that morning our luck ran out. It was pouring rain our whole way to the park, and was still raining once we got there. We hung out in the visitor’s center for a while—walked around, watched some informational films, and then eventually chatted with a park ranger. We learned that Indiana Dunes National Park is the fifth most biodiverse national park, just behind Yosemite. There are also two types of dunes in the park: foredunes and blowout dunes. The foredunes are close to the beach and covered in vegetation. Blowout dunes are caused by intense winds that rip the dunes apart. The loose sand makes a “living dune,” which can move up to several feet per year.
Once the rain let up, we ventured out to explore the park, starting with the scenic drive. We did a couple short nature walks along the trails and boardwalks, and walked along the shore. This would definitely be a fun park to come to in the summer—Lake Michigan and these beaches are absolutely beautiful.
We eventually made our way back to Chicago for a stop at Millennium Park and dinner at a brewery. I love how over the years of traveling to the national parks, different people have adventured with us. Sharing these experiences with friends and family along the way has really made this journey special.