"Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore" Top 5 Page for this destination Indiana Off The Beaten Path Tip by traveldave
Indiana Off The Beaten Path: 49 reviews and 66 photos
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore stretches 25 miles (40 kilometers) along the south shore of Lake Michigan from Gary in the west to Michigan City in the east. Its two separate units protect 15,067 acres (6,097 hectares) of sand dunes that are unique to the south shore of Lake Michigan.
Beginning toward the end of the glacial period of the last Ice Age, a current, called the Longshore Drift, has transported sand southward along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, despositing it at the southern end of the lake. Over the millenia, untold amounts of sand have piled up along the lakefront, creating an area of sand dunes. The tallest, at 123 feet (37 meters), is called Mount Baldy and is located within the national lakeshore.
A movement began in 1899 to protect the dunes from encroaching development, particularly the ports and steel mills that were being built eastward from Gary along the lakeshore. In 1926, Indiana Dunes State Park (not a part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) was created by the state to protect a small area of the dunes. The national lakeshore was finally authorized by Congress in 1966 to set aside an area of ecologically sensitive beaches, sand dunes, prairies, bogs, wetlands, and woodland forests. Historic sites consisting of the Bailly Homestead, the Chellburg Farm, and the Bailly Cemetery are also contained within the national lakeshore. (See my tips on the Bailly Homestead and the Chellburg Farm for more information). Four expansions in 1976, 1980, 1986, and 1992 increased the size of the protected area.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore provides habitat for several endangered species, including two species of mammals, one species of bird, and five species of plants. Surveys have turned up a total of 41 species of mammals, 352 species of birds, 23 species of reptiles, 18 species of amphibians, 71 species of fish, and 369 species of flowering plants within the boundaries of the national lakeshore.
Recreational options for visitors include swimming and sunbathing on the beaches, picnicking, hiking along 45 miles (72 kilometers) of trails that wind through the dunes and other habitats, wildlife watching, and visiting the historic sites.
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