The Indiana Dunes Central Beach

The Park

Places to See

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has a lot to offer visitors. While most people come to the park for the 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, especially the popular West Beach bathhouse and picnic area, there are many other natural areas available for exploration. Below is just a sampling of the great things to see while visiting the park.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitors Center

Also called the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, the center represents a regional partnership between Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes Tourism (provides support for Porter County, Indiana) and serves as Indiana Dunes NL’s official visitor center. Visitors can find information about each of the partner entities, including available activities and programs or view a short orientation film, shop in Eastern National’s bookstore, and enjoy temporary exhibits. Ranger programs, including some for children, are offered on a regular schedule.

Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education

The center, located within the city limits of Gary, IN, and named after the U.S. senator whose advocacy helped create the park, serves as the visitor center for the western end of the park. It serves as a hub for education programming throughout the school year and features a live animal room with native species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and others. Nearby Miller Woods offers beautiful opportunities for hiking. 

Dunes Learning Center

Since 1998, the park’s Learning Center has been jointly operated with a non-profit partner, Dunes Learning Center, Inc. It has served an average of 5,000 participants annually, providing opportunities for overnight stays and immersion environmental learning activities based on park resources. 

Mount Baldy

This 126-foot sand dune is currently closed until further notice to visitors, but it is still a revered landmark at the lakeshore. Interestingly, Mt. Baldy migrates inland at the rate of about four feet each year.

West Beach

This is the Lakeshore’s most popular venue for swimming and use of picnic shelters. This is the only location within the national lakeshore that has lifeguards on duty during the peak summer season. Roving rangers offer interpretive services, including Junior Ranger programs. Visitors are charged an expanded amenity fee for access to West Beach.

Kemil Access point, Dunbar Access point, Lake View, and Central Access point

Located east of Indiana Dunes State Park, these lakefront venues feature hiking and birdwatching along the Dune Ridge Trail, picnicking, and spectacular views of the lake.