Camping at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Passing through Chicago on our way to Voyageurs National Park, we decided to stop at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to camp for the night. Arriving at Dunewood Campground around 7:30 PM, we were sad to see the Campground Full sign up at the campground entrance. We decided to drive in anyway and see if there were any abandoned sites. We were pleasantly surprised to find many open sites. Now we know to check out campgrounds for sure instead of believing the posted notices.Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Camping at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The park is now using an automated kiosk to pay for campsites so payment must be made by credit card. Easy to use, we drove around the campground and picked our site and then returned to the entrance to pay. After registering, we quickly set up camp at one of the walk in sites. Just a short walk from the parking area, these sites were more removed from the rest of the campground with several trees surrounding each site for privacy. Each wooded site has the standard picnic table and fire pit as well as a hook for hanging gear. The campground itself was showing some wear from the holiday weekend with somewhat dirty bathrooms and overflowing garbage cans throughout. There also were tons of mosquitoes so we quickly lit a fire to keep them somewhat at bay. I would definitely plan to bring citronella candles on any future trips. The campground is also near both a road and train tracks, so don’t expect silence while camping here. One benefit of the train track, is its close proximity to a train station to take you in to the city. This would be a very inexpensive way to visit Chicago.Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Lake View Point

Dunewood Campground is about 1.5 miles to Lake Michigan. Since the sun was setting, we drove and parked at Lake View Point to catch the sunset. On weekends, this parking lot is almost always full, but we were able to park in one of the available spots. Parking in the surrounding area is by resident permit only. From Lake View to the west, dogs are allowed to be as long as they remain on leash. Wildfire smoke made for a hazy sunset, but the kids and Luna enjoyed splashing around in the clear water. It was Luna’s first time to experience waves and she was definitely apprehensive, but did eventually wade in to the water. While the beach area is pretty, in both directions smoke-spewing plants could be seen. The end of a holiday weekend, the party was still going in full force at the picnic tables. I was sad to see all of the litter both on the beach and surrounding the picnic tables.Indiana Dunes National LakeshoreIndiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National LakeshoreThe next morning Dave and I took a quick run to Lake Michigan where the clean up by park Service workers was already finishing up. The picnic areas and beaches were now litter free. It is a shame that 6 workers were required in order to clean up after visitors.Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

After packing up we made a quick stop at the Visitor Center to watch the very good orientation video. Since Luna was not allowed on any of the other trails, we ended our visit and headed out to visit family in Chicago.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

If you go-

Alcohol is prohibited at Dunewood Campground and unlike at many campgrounds, this policy is enforced.

Bring Citronella candles and plan for fires to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

If you are sensitive to noise while sleeping, ear plugs would be a good idea.

Sites are $14 and payment is made at a kiosk near the campground entrance. You must use a credit card to pay. Cash or checks are not accepted.

Pets are allowed as long as they remain on leash.

Have you been to Indiana Dunes? I’d love to hear about your visit!

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I love to plan family travel adventures with our four kids. Encouraging time in nature, National Parks travel, backpacking and hiking are my passions and I love to write about them.

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