Indiana Dunes parks open to visitors
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org June 6, 2014 10:56PM
Storm clouds loom over Portage Lakefront Park, part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, on Monday afternoon. | Sun-Times Media
If you go
State Park Activities
9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.: Dunes Glamping Weekend, including hikes, jewelry workshops and edible plants walk
9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.: Dunes Glamping Weekend, including beach yoga, cooking demo, and kids crafts
More information: www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm.
1-3 p.m.: Kids Rule, featuring fun activities for kids at the visitor center, located at 1215 N. Indiana 49.
9 a.m.: Ranger’s Choice Hike, which highlights the lakeshore’s exceptional diversity, at visitor center.
7:30 p.m.: Sunset Hike at Central Avenue Beach, located at 151 Central Ave., just west of Michigan City.
11 a.m.-noon: Junior Wildland Firefighter Program at the West Beach Contact Station
1 p.m.-4 p.m.: Chellberg Farm Open House
8:30 p.m.: Campground program, which teaches about how fire keeps the park healthy, at Dunewood Campground Amphitheater, located at Dunewood Parkway and Golfwood Road in Michigan City.
More information: (219) 395-1882 or www.nps.gov/indu
Updated: July 8, 2014 6:03AM
PORTAGE — Despite rumors to the contrary, most of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park areas are open and ready for summer tourists.
Bruce Rowe, spokesman for the National Lakeshore, said several groups called recently to cancel camping reservations.
“I talked to our information desk at the National Lakeshore, and they had received numerous calls from people hearing that one or both parks were closed,” Rowe said. “One person said they had somehow heard the rumor on a television station in Lafayette.”
He said some people may have heard about the continuing closure of the Mount Baldy area and thought that meant the entire park. At the National Lakeshore, the closure affects about 100 of the park’s 15,000 acres. Fourteen miles of beach, 60 miles of trails and campgrounds at both parks are open.
A section of Mount Baldy has been closed since July, when 6-year-old Nathan Woessner fell into a hole and was buried under 11 feet of sand for nearly four hours. He was unconsicous when workers reached him, but has since made a full recovery. Rowe said the area is closed through the end of the summer as scientists investigate what is causing holes to form in the dune.
The parks are open year-round — with an average of 2 million visitors — but summer is the high season. With so many entrances, the National Lakeshore uses several methods to count visitors, including traffic counters at the entrance of each parking lot entrance.
Rowe said May attendance numbers are still being compiled, but initial numbers from the visitors’ center are up 15 percent from last year.
“As we’ve seen in the past, attendance is tied so much to weather,” Rowe said. “If we have a good beach season, we’ll have good attendance, particularly if the late spring and early fall are nice. Last year’s attendance was 1.6 million because we were closed 21/2 weeks in October because of the government shutdown and we had a cold, wet spring.”
Rowe said the heavy snow and cold temperatures kept many from visiting the park earlier this year, but nice weather is luring people to the dunes as June begins.