Indiana Dunes is NOW a National Park!

The 15,000-acre Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore that has 15 miles of beach area along Lake Michigan was re-designated by President Donald Trump as America’s 61st national park – the first national park in Indiana. Previously the Indiana Dunes Lakeshore was one of 418 “national park units.” Now it is part of an elite group of 61 parks across the country that Americans make love to visit.

The change was part of a several hundred page omnibus appropriations bill that also included funding for the controversial border wall pushed by President Donald Trump. House Joint Resolution 31, which provides $1.4 billion for Mexican border fencing demanded by Trump, also included a provision long sought by Region leaders renaming the National Lakeshore As A National Park.

The legislation signed by the president also renames the 1.6-mile Miller Woods trail in the new National Park as the Paul H. Douglas Trail, in honor of Illinois U.S. senator who helped establish the national lakeshore in 1966.

The name change doesn’t come with any extra funding, but should help raise the Indiana Dunes recognition and image. The change to a National Park is not expected to result in any immediate programming or facilities changes at the former national lakeshore, but expect a lot of new signs.

The National Park Service will continue operating the park. Indiana Dunes National Park also will continue to operate separately from Indiana Dunes State Park, which is state-owned under the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Between the new national park and Indiana Dunes State Park more than 3.6 million people visited the Dunes in 2018, according to Indiana Dunes Tourism, the official marketing, planning and development organization for the Indiana Dunes area in Porter County.

Tourism officials expect the national park designation will help draw even more visitors to Northwest Indiana to see the park’s woodlands, prairies, savannas, bogs, wetlands and, of course, the Indiana sand dunes, which reach heights up to 192 feet.

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Sue Baxter