Indiana Dunes Beaches
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park offer 15 miles of beautiful sandy beaches. Whether you want to frolic in the waves, sculpt a sandcastle, admire the wildlife or simply soak up the sun, the beaches of the Indiana Dunes are sure to please.
Explore the Indiana Dunes’ beaches any time of year! In the summer, the sand is warm, the breeze is cool and Lake Michigan is sparkling and inviting. During the winter, the stark beauty of the lake and the shelf ice that forms on it will take your breath away. Spring breathes new life into the shoreline and the dunes, and in the fall, the stunning array of colors will astound you.
Safety note - Do not swim when Rip Current warnings are posted or in large crashing waves, which can cause rip currents. These strong currents rushing out into Lake Michigan can carry even the strongest swimmer with them. If you get caught in a rip current, do not try to swim against it. Instead, swim parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the current.
Indiana Dunes State Park Beaches
The Indiana Dunes State Park provides three miles of enticing beaches. Open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., the park offers a swimming beach manned by lifeguards in the summer. A pavilion on the beach provides shelter, bathhouses and a concession stand. The rest of the beach area is available for wildlife watching, beachcombing, kite flying or strolling with your pets. A variety of hiking trails are available, several of which traverse Mount Tom and offer a spectacular view of Lake Michigan. A nominal fee is charged to enter the park, which offers plenty of parking.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Beaches
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore maintains an array of magnificent beaches, which are open year-round from 7:00 a.m. to 30 minutes past sunset, unless otherwise noted. Bicyclists and hikers may enter at 6:00 a.m. Parking and bathroom facilities are located near all of the beaches. Lifeguards are only available at West Beach.
The popular West Beach was named one of the 10 Best Beaches for Families by Parents Magazine in 2011. Covered picnic shelters and grills make this southernmost tip of Lake Michigan a great spot for a picnic. Fishing is available at nearby Long Lake and the 2.5 miles of easy to moderate trails entice hikers. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the beach opens at 9:00 a.m., lifeguards are on duty and a small fee is charged for parking.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s newest beach is Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk. Opened in 2008, this 57-acre site is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the City of Portage. It features an enclosed pavilion with seasonal food service, restrooms, a handicapped-accessible trail and a fishing pier. It’s also a great place to launch a kayak.
Lake View is the only area in the national lakeshore with picnic shelters overlooking the lake, giving visitors a fantastic view of Lake Michigan. Located in Beverly Shores, this beach is open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Parking is limited.
Dunbar Beach is located near the historic Century of Progress homes, which were built for the 1933 World’s Fair to showcase modern architectural design and new technology. This beautiful beach has limited parking.
Traveling to Kemil Beach in Porter takes you on one of the most scenic drives in Porter County. Quiet and secluded, this little gem of a beach offers access to Dune Ridge Trail. Smelt fishing is allowed in the spring with a permit.
Porter Beach, which shares its eastern border with the Indiana Dunes State Park, is a favorite with the locals. It’s a great place to enjoy some water sports or simply sit and relax.
Central Beach is a unique beach that can be accessed by paved road or wooded trail. The 9.1-mile Calumet Bike Trail, which passes through marshes, woodlands and flower-filled meadows, is accessible nearby. Central Beach is a great place to watch bank swallows fly to and from their dune nests. At Central Beach the public is urged to remain on the beach area and not climb up the dune slopes directly behind the beach due to erosion making them dangerous to climb.The area is open from April 16 until November 14.
Although Mount Baldy at the National Lakeshore is temporarily closed, visitors can hike Mount Tom in the Indiana Dunes State Park for a magnificent view of Lake Michigan.
Header image courtesy of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.