Our next National Park may be in Indiana

Central Beach scene - Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Credit: NPS

A 15,000-acre park stretching along the Lake Michigan Shoreline cleared its first hurdle to become a National Park this week.

The House Committee on Natural Resources approved legislation to designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a National Park. If passed, the designation would create the first National Park in Indiana and the 60th in the United States.

Indiana Dunes National Park
Snow along the sands of Kemil Access Point – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Credit: NPS

The idea of making the Indiana Dunes a National Park has been floated for over 100 years. Stephen Mather, the first Director of the National Park Service, began a push for the designation back in 1916.

Congressman Pete Visclosky’s introduced the legislation, and it passed the committee with unanimous consent.  The bill is expected to be considered by the full House of Representatives in the next few months.

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“I thank Chairman Rob Bishop, Ranking Member Raul Grijalva, and all the members of the Natural Resources Committee, for their leadership to bring forward and advance this legislation,”  said Congressman Pete Visclosky stated. “I hope that the full House considers this important legislation as soon as possible so that we can quickly begin to harness this national recognition of the Indiana Dunes and attract new visitors and economic activity to our region.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly introduced a companion measure in the Senate.  This action is cosponsored by Sen. Todd Young and is currently pending consideration in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

More about Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

As a “National Lakeshore,” Indiana Dunes is a unit of the National Park System and is already managed by the NPS. Congress authorized the National Lakeshore designation in 1966.

Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk. Credit: NPS

The Lakeshore hugs 15 miles of the southern side of Lake Michigan, stretching from Gary to Michigan City. The area offers hikers 50 miles of trails. The national lakeshore also features more than 1,100 native plants

Overnight camping is available from April through October.

The potential National Park is just a 45-minute drive from Chicago and under three hours from Indianapolis.

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