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Indiana Dunes National Park includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods,marshes, and prairie in the northwest corner of Indiana.  Located just 45 minutes from downtown Chicago, more than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year to enjoy swimming, hiking, birdwatching, camping, kayaking, and much more.  Despite its relatively compact size for a national park, it contains some of the greatest diversity of plant life in the national park system with over 1,400 species.

The legislation that authorized Indiana Dunes National Park in 1966 resulted from a movement that began in 1899. Three key individuals helped make Indiana Dunes National Park a reality: Henry Cowles, a botanist from the University of Chicago; Paul H. Douglas, Senator for the State of Illinois; and Dorothy R. Buell, an Ogden Dunes resident and English teacher. Henry Cowles published an article entitled "Ecological Relations of the Vegetation on Sand Dunes of Lake Michigan," in the Botanical Gazette in 1899 that established Cowles as the "father of plant ecology" in North America and brought international attention to the intricate ecosystems existing on the dunes.

By the time the 89th Congress adjourned in late 1966, the bill had passed and the Indiana Dunes National Park finally became a reality. While the 1966 authorizing legislation included only 8,330 acres of land and water, the Save the Dunes Council, National Park Service, and others continued to seek expansion of the boundaries of preservation. Four subsequent expansion bills for the park (1976, 1980, 1986, and 1992) have increased the size of the park to more than 15,000 acres.


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Visitor Information:


Mail    Indiana Dunes National Park
            1100 N. Mineral Springs Road
            Porter IN 46304


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