Meet Indiana’s Very First National Park

Last month, the United States opened its 61st national park. Indiana Dunes is located on the southern shores of Lake Michigan and is made up of about 15,000 acres. The area is situated on Indiana’s northwest border, 50 miles east of Chicago. The park’s designation is a momentous event. In a time where the U.S. administration hasn’t exactly been known for doing public lands any favors, a new national park designation is big news. It also happens to be Indiana’s first and only national park.

Indiana doesn’t feel like they’ll have any problem attracting visitors to the new national park. As it turns out, about 3.5 million people visited the lakeshore each year, to begin with. So, even without the national park designation, it was already Indiana’s most visited natural attraction. Now, the state hopes that being a national park will bring even more visitors to the region from all over the country.

A representative from Visit Indiana mentioned the fact that Indiana actually has more plant and animal species than Hawaii. However, the state certainly isn’t thought of as a major tourist destination for those wanting to get in touch with flora and fauna.

Indiana Dunes will provide plenty of opportunities for visitors to explore. The beaches alone make a visit worth the trip, with 15 miles of shoreline to explore. You’ll also find 50 miles of hiking trails that cut through swamps, forests, rivers, prairies, bogs, and oak savannahs. The new national park is also home to a 140-foot tall dune called Mount Baldy, as well as 1,100 native plant species.

It would seem that employees of the National Park Service in the area are just as excited to get the National Park designation as anyone. After the news of the signing broke, several of the park employees posed for a picture in front of the entrance sign. However, they modified the sign by holding up a handmade correction that read “park” instead of “lakeshore.”

The new Indiana Dunes national park marks the third national park to be signed off on in the last six years. Pinnacles National Park in California was signed into the system in 2013, and last year, Missouri became home to the Gateway Arch National Park.