Get Involved

How To Get Involved

Volunteers' Favorites

Written by Dunes National Park Assoc. on . Posted in The Park

Ian ClarkIan Clark

Volunteer, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 

I am 17 and currently a junior at Munster High School. I enjoy volunteering at the Dunes Lakeshore because of two things: 1) I have an interest in the natural sciences and 2) I love giving back to the community. When I grow up, I hope to pursue a career where I can use my interest in the natural sciences such as being a park ranger, science teacher or geologist amongst other things. Giving back to the community is a reflection of my appreciation of the world around me, which has sustained me and encouraged my growth. My volunteering activities allow me to reciprocate the same by encouraging and sustaining growth and conservation in the environment.

Volunteer Work:  

As a volunteer, I have worked with Ranger Ted Winterfield on clearing invasive species from the forests along the trails on Stewardship Days, which occurs every 3rd Saturday of the month. We cut the plant stalks just above ground level, and the Rangers spray an herbicide into the opening to kill the roots. It is difficult work, but nothing beats the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment you get when you turn out to help. 

Favorite Place:

My favorite place in the park would have to be the Heron Rookery. The Rookery is inland and separated from the rest of the park, and the remoteness allows the sounds of nature to be undisturbed by humans. I love the isolation, as it gives me a sense of being home in nature by myself.

Volunteering in a place I call home is special to me, and I hope to continue my volunteer work with the Dunes Lakeshore.

Calvin-Barnett-3Calvin Barnett

Park Steward Intern, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 

I am 19 and just graduated high school. I will be attending Purdue University this fall, where I will be studying Environmental Science. I am a Park Steward Intern at the Douglas Center in Miller, IN. I have had a great time this summer helping with the interpretive rangers, resource management, park protection, and the Dunes Learning Center. My favorite place to be in the park is West Beach, because there is so much to do there, but my favorite trail in the park, is the Bailly /Chellburg Trail. There is something eerie about treading on the the same ground as the Native Americans did hundreds of years ago. There is so much history and culture on that trail, and I love exploring the woods around the Bailly Homestead and Chellburg Farm. One of the funnest things I have done this summer, actually there are two that beat out the rest, and they are flint knapping with Ranger Shane Griffin, and helping with the Mighty Acorns camp at the DLC.

Melissa-KohnerMelissa Kohner

Summer Intern, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 

I am a senior pre-med student at Valparaiso University, and I am from Red Wing, Minnesota. I wanted to volunteer at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore because a national park seemed like a fun place to spend my summer. My favorite trail is Little Calumet Trail because it goes through prairie, woods and marsh, so you see a lot of different species on just one hike. I want the Healthy Parks Healthy People program to grow in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and I plan on starting VU Pre-med Club hikes to help promote the program. My favorite part about volunteering is going on hikes and taking pictures of the beautiful park.

Our Park Has Plenty To Do

Written by Dunes National Park Assoc. on . Posted in The Park

Our park has plenty to do and see in spring, summer, winter & fall.  From swimming to horseback riding your family will have to plan carefully or you may not have time for it all.  Please click on the images below to explore activities in our park that you are interested in learning more about.

Places to See (continued)

Written by Dunes National Park Assoc. on . Posted in The Park


Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk's location right next to an operating steel mill provides an object lesson regarding the struggle to create the park among conflicting demands for lakeshore frontage. The area features a pavilion with food services and meeting room/ classroom rental managed by the City of Portage and is a LEED-certified site. It also offers beach access, walkways along the Little Calumet River, a paved hiking/biking trail, and a fishing pier.

Century of Progress Homes from the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair

These five unique houses, each designed for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, were originally built to demonstrate modern architectural design, experimental materials, and new technologies such as central air conditioning and dishwashers. They are leased by private residents through a partnership with the National Park Service and Indiana Landmarks. Each is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Annual house tours provide opportunities for visitors to view the house interiors. For the rest of the year, visitors simply drive by to view the homes, which are interpreted via wayside exhibits.

Bailly Homestead National Historic Landmark

A National Historic Landmark, the site interprets the pioneer trading post established in 1822 by fur trader Joseph Bailly. A number of buildings from different time periods survive as well as the Bailly Cemetery.

Chellberg Farm

The Chellberg Farm reflects the challenges of sustainable agricultural success in the sandy dunes of the lakeshore and represents just one of the many European immigrant waves that moved through the region. 

Great Marsh

Once a nesting and layover site for migratory birds, the marsh was drained in the late 19th century. The National Lakeshore has begun restoration of the marsh by watershed reengineering, removing non-native plant species, and planting native plants.

Inland Marsh

The marsh features a trail with an overlook and provides visitors a glimpse of the vast freshwater wetlands that existed prior to Euro-American settlement. Spring flowers and seasonally migrating birds are highlights of the marsh.

Cowles Bog and Pinhook Bog

Cowles Bog was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1965. It is in this location that Dr. Henry Cowles conducted his initial studies of plant ecology. Visitors can watch birds and hike a trail through the bog that leads over a dune to the beach. Pinhook Bog is the second most remote of all park units and is available by guided ranger tours. The bog features a number of unique plant species.

Heron Rookery

Despite dwindling numbers of Great Blue Herons at this location, the area remains a beautiful place to see wild flowers from late March until early June, as well as birds during spring and fall migrations.

45 miles of hiking, bicycle, equestrian, and cross-country skiing trails

The trails cover an astonishing array of habitats including bog, prairie, marsh, dune, and beach. Trail hiking is often the second most popular visitor activity next to beach visits.

Stay For a Bit, Stay For a While

Written by Dunes National Park Assoc. on . Posted in The Park

Discovering Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the most enjoyable experiences a family can have. This is truly a hidden jewel and many people who come to visit are shocked they didn't know all of this is in Chicago's backyard.  Just a couple of miles beyond the sandy shores of Lake Michigan you will find fine dining, local breweries, first-class shopping, great lodging and accommodations and amazing work from local artisans making Indiana Dunes National Park a true vacation destination.

For Teachers & Kids

Written by Dunes National Park Assoc. on . Posted in The Park

For Teachers

The dunes of Indiana have a long and fascinating history of attracting scientists, teachers, and students alike to study and explore globally rare ecosystems.

Thousands of students participate in education programs at the national lakeshore every year. The national lakeshore offers programs at various locations throughout Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties, such as the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, the historic areas of Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm, and natural areas and trails throughout the park. It is a wonderful place to bring students for ranger-led programs or for self-guided exploration.

Bailly Homestead Tourists1-05.16.08-S

At the NPS Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore website you can:

  1. Plan a field trip
  2. Access Professional Development resources
  3. Choose materials for loan
  4. Discover great online games
  5. Find suggested reading
  6. And much more!

For Kids

Kids, you can enjoy the dunes in many ways whether you are at home, in school, or at the park.

At the Park

  1. Hike one of the many trailsParKids 10 Educational Outreach Program Little Calumet Trail System INDU NPS Collection 110-S
  2. Visit Chellberg Farm and the Bailly Homestead
  3. Enjoy a picnic with friends and family
  4. Come out for a program with family, friends, school, and organized group
  5. Visit the beach
  6. Become a Junior Ranger

At Home or School

  1. Watch one of the Park videos
  2. Learn about the different plants from the plant slide show
  3. Complete the Water Safety Challenge
  4. Complete the Web Ranger Challenge

Things to know before you come to the park

  1. Learn about water safety by taking the Water Safety Challenge
  2. Check out the directions section for maps and parking area hours
  3. Read the pets page before bringing your pet to the park
  4. Leave your snow/sand/boggy boards at home since the park has a no sledding rule