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The Complete Guide to Indiana Dunes National Park Camping

Sprawling along 15 miles of southern Lake Michigan shoreline, and considered a hidden gem of the Midwest, Indiana Dunes National Park is home to some of the most diverse habitats and most adventurous locations in any single slice of Indiana! If you’re on the hunt for an incredible camping experience the whole family will love, you’re looking in the right place…and our Indiana Dunes National Park Camping Guide is here to help you make the most of your experience!

Let’s take a closer look at what this amazing national park has to offer in terms of camping and recreation!

What to Expect At Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park camping
Indiana Dunes National Park

Home to some of the best and most fun that the Hoosier state has to offer of both lake and land, Indiana Dunes National Park encompasses a unique array of landscapes, including the rugged dunes, tranquil forests, stunning beaches, and gorgeous wetlands. With more than 50 miles of hiking trails crisscrossing its 15,000 acres, offering top of the line birding, hiking, and biking opportunities, as well as boasting some of the best beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Indiana Dunes National Park is one of the premier camping locations in the state and one of the most biologically rich parks in the nation.

The Complete Guide to Indiana Dunes National Park Camping

Dune Succession Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park
Dune Succession Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park

Camping at Indiana Dunes National Park offers beautiful opportunities for both RV and tent campers! Located within the park’s woodlands not far from the beach, a location primed for both comfort and beauty, the park’s single campground is accessible and lovely—a great place for individuals, groups, and families to enjoy!

Best Camping Spots

Dunewood Campground at Indiana Dunes National Park consists of two loops containing a total of 66 campsites; sites 1 through 54 offer a conventional drive-in experience for RVs and/or tents, with RV lengths being limited in certain sites. Sites 55 through 67 are for tent camping only, and sites 15, 30, 21, and 55 are wheelchair accessible. Each site can hold a maximum of 8 people, and all tents and equipment are required to be set up on the camping pad; RVs and all other vehicles must be parked completely on pavement at all times. (Note: RV campers should be aware there are no electric or water hookups available at Dunewood.)

Pets are welcomed while camping at Indiana Dunes National Park as long as they are attended and kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet.

Amenities in each loop include modern restrooms with flush toilets and hot/cold showers, as well as nearby access to convenience stores and a gas station (located about ¼ mile north of the campground in the town of Beverly Shores). Fire pits and potable water are also provided. Please be aware that Dunewood Campground limits all stays to 14 consecutive days in a 30 day period and observes quiet hours daily from 10:00 pm until 6:00 am. There is no alcohol allowed in the campground.

(Note: Dunewood Campground is closed during the winter, from November 2 through March 31.)

Booking

All campsites at Dunewood Campground are reservable starting 6 months before your desired check-in date, beginning on November 15 for the following camping season. You can reserve your campsite here.

Things To Do While Camping at Indiana Dunes National Park

Kayak in Calumet River, Indiana Dunes National Park
Kayak in Calumet River, Indiana Dunes National Park

There’s no end to the fun activities you can pack into your Indiana Dunes National Park camping adventure!

For lovers of the water, this park and the surrounding area are known for their many miles of gorgeous Lake Michigan beaches. Walk the lakeshore, take a swim in the beautiful, warm waters, catch some sun on the beach, or go sailing, kayaking, or fishing…and that’s just on the lake! In the park’s interior waterways and rivers, canoeing is also a popular activity (Note: Canoeing is not recommended on the lake due to unpredictable lake-effect winds).

If you prefer to have your fun with your feet on the ground, there’s plenty to do in the interior of the Indiana Dunes National Park as well! This park is fantastic for hiking and biking, with many beautiful boardwalks and paths to choose from. Within the park is the popular Glenwoood Dunes trail system, which features a series of connected loops that average from less than a mile to nearly 15 miles—including a stretch specifically reserved for horseback riding! Along the way, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting and birdwatching as well.

In the winter, cross country skiing and other seasonal activities are also available at Indiana Dunes National Park!

Wildlife

The Complete Guide to Indiana Dunes National Park Camping 1

Its location and biological diversity have made Indiana Dunes National Park a unique breeding ground for many different kinds of wildlife, all of which are a gift to see!

While camping at Indiana Dunes National Park, you’re likely to spot white-tailed deer, red foxes, shrews, bats, rabbits, beavers—even southern flying squirrels! Up in the treetops, through the marshy areas, and along the coast, you may encounter all sorts of birds from woodpeckers and cardinals to herons and egrets, to seagulls and other waterbirds. Best of all, if you’re visiting in the right season, you’ll have the chance to encounter the many migratory birds that travel to the Indiana Dunes at certain times of the year!

Vegetation / Geography

The Complete Guide to Indiana Dunes National Park Camping 2

Indiana Dunes National Park is notable for its biodiversity, with over 1,000 native vascular plants as well as being home to populations of 30% of Indiana’s listed rare, threatened, endangered, and special concern plant species. All of these you’ll find scattered along the park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sandy shorelines, deep, verdant forests, swamps, marshes, wetlands, and black oak savannas. It’s truly breathtaking just how much natural beauty you can encounter in this single park—and for this reason, it’s important not to destroy or remove any plants, rocks, fossils, etc. that you may encounter on your adventures. These are all important elements to maintaining the system that helps keep these stunning areas alive and thriving!

Make Sure To Bring

Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park

You’ll want to come well prepared for all your Indiana Dunes National Park camping adventures! If you are tent or RV camping, please ensure all gear and equipment is in good repair, and be sure to bring along a well-stocked first aid kit in case of any injuries or discomforts.

If you’re planning to spend some time at the beach, you’ll want to bring lots of water, towels, sunglasses, a sunblock of your choice, and insect repellent. Make sure you dress appropriately for the warm summer days, and if swimming or boating, please bring swimming and safety gear as well as any floatation devices or water toys you may want to play with!

Fishers should ensure their tackle is well maintained and should be in possession of a current Indiana fishing license, and boaters, canoers, and kayakers should ensure the integrity of their vessels before striking out on the water.

If you’re planning to hike the dunes and journey inland while camping at Indiana Dunes National Park, please ensure you bring sturdy, durable footwear—climbing the dunes can pose a threat of sprained ankles, particularly if you’re wearing poorly fitting shoes or ones not meant for walking.

Park Fees

When planning your Indiana Dunes National Park Camping trip, you should be aware of the following fees:

  • $25.00 per night camping fee (with an expanded amenity fee). There is a 50% discount for the following America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes: Senior Annual, Senior Lifetime, and Access Passes; no discounts are given for non-senior Annual, Military, Volunteer, and 4th Grade Passes.
  • $20.00 for a 7-Day Park Entrance Pass (Motorcycle Pass)
  • $25.00 for a 7-Day Park Entrance Pass (Family-Size Vehicle Pass)
  • $25.00 – $100.00 for a 7-Day Park Entrance Pass (for groups in Sedans up through motor coaches)

Reviews

Camping at Indiana Dunes National Park
Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Park

Boasting a solid 4.5 out of 5 star rating, Dunewood Campground at Indiana Dunes National Park is praised for its clean, well-spaced, well-maintained campsites, with great access to local grocers and restaurants while still feeling secluded and spread apart enough to give that optimal camping experience. Campers have enjoyed the sense of getting away in nature even during peak camping season, with particular note paid to how it never feels like campers are piled too close together.

The only downside that is mentioned more than once seems to be a bounty of poison ivy around campsites—something in particular for families with little children to watch out for.

Overall, camping at Indiana Dunes National Park is highly rated as a fantastic experience for individuals, families, and groups, and the park itself is remarked on as being a treasure in the Hoosier backyard that should be visited time and again!

Wrapping Up Indiana Dunes National Park Camping

We sure hope you’re feeling well prepared and excited for your upcoming stay at Dunewood Campground after reading our Indiana Dunes National Park Camping Guide! Which recreational activity are you most looking forward to enjoying at the Dunes during your stay? Let us know in the comments below!

Ready to plan your next Indiana camping trip? Check out our list of recommendations below!

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