Discover exciting winter activities in Northwest Indiana, from sledding and ice skating to cross country skiing.
The Indiana Dunes are marvelous year-round. Shelf ice is a natural occurrence that mimics landscapes of arctic regions. It attaches itself to the shores of the beach, not the bottom of Lake Michigan. Waves crash onto the floating ice and collects on the shore, freezing as the temperature drops and creates a shelf.
The formations can be viewed at any beach but Whiting’s Lakefront at Whihala Beach, West Beach or Lake View in Beverly Shores are some favorites. The Michigan City Lighthouse and Pier also offers a breathtaking view when frozen and offers great photography if you can brave the chilly air. Be warned, shelf ice is not stable and extremely dangerous. Be advised – NEVER walk on shelf ice.
If you're lucky, you might see other winter phenomenon while visiting the lakefront. A winter storm and high winds created this amazing ice world at Whiting's lakefront as seen in the photo below.
As part of a multi-agency study of bison genetics, an additional 10 bison have been added to the herd at The Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands. At one time, more than 50 million bison roamed North America but by the year 1889 the population dwindled to less than 1,000.
A herd of bison were added to the Restoration Area at Kankakee Sands in Morocco to help invigorate the nature prairie landscapes by eating grasses to increase plant diversity. There is a viewing area available to visitors to watch the bison and their calves in their natural state. More than 25,000 acres of land provide additional opportunities for wildlife and bird watching.
The Indiana Dunes State Park is home to Devil’s Slide, a fantastically fun spot to enjoy the snow with your family. Bring a thermos of hot cocoa and enjoy an afternoon hiking or snowshoeing along the trails at the park.
Families can also enjoy sledding at the Lake County Fairgrounds and Sunset Hill Farm from dawn to dusk after a good snowfall.
Lemon Lake Disc Golf and Cross Country Skiing
A great way to exercise this winter is cross country skiing at Lemon Lake. Several miles of trails through wooded areas and open fields provide an afternoon of activity for beginners as well as experienced skiers. Ski rentals are available (weather permitting) Friday-Sunday and school holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from December until March. Cross country ski rentals are also available at Oak Ridge Prairie in Griffith and Stoney Run County Park in Hebron. Stoney Run offers seven miles of trails with the intermediate and advanced skiers in mind.
Wintertime may keep the golfers away, but not disc golfers. Lemon Lake has 72-hole championship disc golf courses, making it the largest in the nation. The courses also accommodate experienced players and beginners. Learn more about the sport and find maps of the courses and schedules of upcoming championships at www.lemonlakediscgolf.org.
Deep River Waterpark transforms from "splashtastic" in the summer to frozen and fun in the winter. Families can skate the plaza November 29, 2019 through February 23, 2020 (weather permitting). Open skating is available Thursdays through Sundays and rentals are available onsite. Concessions and lockers are available as well. Bring in two cans of non-perishable food items and receive half price admission on Sundays.
Head to downtown Valparaiso for skating at the Central Park Plaza Ice Rink until March (weather permitting). The 12,000 square foot open-air pavilion provides a picturesque setting for ice skating in the heart of Valparaiso. The arched roof provides protection from the elements and open skating is available daily (hours vary). Skate and helmet rental are available at the Activity Center.
Bulldog Park in Crown Point transitions from summer activities to winter fun with ice skating under the pavilion. Enjoy open skate or a pick up hockey game. Follow them on Facebook for calendar updates and special events. Rentals are available onsite.