Category: Indiana Dunes National Park

The Complete Guide to Camping in Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park is one of America’s newest national parks, having been designated as a national park in 2019. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeast Indiana,…

Indiana Dunes National Park is one of America’s newest national parks, having been designated as a national park in 2019. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeast Indiana, the park covers over 15,000 acres with Indiana Dunes State Park fully enclosed within the national park’s boundaries. We think the best way to experience everything the Indiana Dunes have to offer is by spending a few nights sleeping under the stars in your tent or RV. You’ll get experience this incredible environment first hand!

Indiana Dunes National Park and the surrounding areas (including the Indiana State Park of the same name) have plenty of options to suit all types of campers. From the more rustic Dunewood Campground within the national park, to the campground located within Indiana Dunes State Park, and nearby full service campgrounds, you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keep reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Indiana Dunes National Park.

Dunefield in the Indiana Dunes national park.

Exploring the sand dunes is just one reason to camp at Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

In this Post

Indiana Dunes National Park Campgrounds

The first step in planning your perfect camping trip to the Indiana Dunes is to understand a bit about the geography of the national park and surrounding area. Indiana Dunes National Park is unique in that the park is not located in one contiguous land mass like most national parks. Rather, it exists in several smaller parcels along the shore of Lake Michigan as well as inland. Indiana Dunes State Park is located entirely within the national park boundaries, another unique geographical feature. See the map below to get a better understanding of the geography of Indiana Dunes National Park.

Map of campgrounds in Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park campground and Indiana Dunes State Park. (Click to enlarge)

 

All of this is a benefit for those looking to camp at the Indiana Dunes given that there are campgrounds located within the national park and state park, giving you plenty of options.

The peak season for camping in the Indiana Dunes is from May – September, and the Dunewood Campground located within Indiana Dunes National Park is open seasonally from April 1st – November 1st. The Indiana Dunes State Park campground is open year round, but be sure you’re RV has heat if you’re planning a camping trip in the off season!

Reservations & Permits

Reservations are highly recommended for the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park. While they are not required, the campground is full during the majority of the peak summer season. For that reason, we highly recommend securing your campsite reservation in advance.

Reservations for the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park can be made here via Recreation.gov

You can reserve a campsite at the Dunewood Campground up to 6 months in advance. Availability for the upcoming season is typically released starting in mid-November and campsites can be reserved starting at 10 ET for the date six months out. If you’re hoping to secure a site for a popular weekend be sure you’re ready to book as soon as campsites are made available!

For the campground located in Indiana Dunes State Park reservations are also highly recommended. These sites are open year round and can be reserved through the State of Indiana website here.

Campground at Indiana Dunes National Park

Expect campgrounds at the Indiana Dunes to be full during busy summer weekends. Photo credit NPS.

 

Car camping sites

The Dunewood Campground is the only campground available in Indiana Dunes National Park. Details for this excellent campground are below:

Dunewood Campground

Number of Sites: 67 sites (13 campsites are tent camping only)
Fee: $25/night
Capacity: 8 people per site
RVs: Yes. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

Tent at the Dunewood Campground

The Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

The Dunewood Campground is located in the northern portion of Indiana Dunes National Park and features 67 campsites. From the campground it is an approximate 5-minute drive or 30-minute walk to the Lake View Beach on Lake Michigan and the campground is set back in a beautiful, forested environment. The campground is also close to the Great Marsh Trail and Observation Deck, a unique walking trail that explores the wetland ecosystem.

Map of the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park.

Map of the Dunewood Campground. Map courtesy of the NPS.

 

The majority of the sites can accommodate RVs, although 13 of the sites are set aside for tent camping only. There are no hookups available, but there is potable water and a dump station. Dunewood also features public restrooms and showers.

A unique aspect of the Dunewood Campground is the fact that it can be easily reached by train, not something many National Park campgrounds can attest to! The Beverly Shores train stop is located just a few steps from the campground!

View of Lake Michigan from the Indiana Dunes.

 

Indiana Dunes State Park Campgrounds

If the Dunewood Campground is full or if you prefer to have some additional amenities, the nearby Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is a great option. Check out all the details below.

Indiana Dunes State Park Campground

Number of Sites: 141 sites, 3 of which are reserved for non-profits/groups
Fee: $23 – $30/night depending on hookups
Capacity: 6 people per site
RVs: Yes, many sites up to 55′.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

Campground at Indiana Dunes State Park

The Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is located a short walk from the beach.

 

The Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is centrally located within the state park. Since the state park is surrounded by Indiana Dunes National Park, you’ll be perfectly located for exploring all this area has to offer. Unlike the Dunewood Campground, the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is located just a short walk from the lake shore. There is also a small camp store at the campground selling essentials.

The campground is perfectly located for anyone interested in hiking Mt. Tom, as the trail leaves from the campground.

Reservations are recommended at the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground during the peak summer season.  The campsites can accommodate tents as well as RVs and most sites feature electric hookups. The campgrounds provides plenty of restrooms and also features showers.

View a map of the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground here.

The campground also features three ‘youth’ campsites located away from the main campground. These campsites, known as the Nissaki Youth Tent Area are provided for youth based non-profit groups. These are not reservable by the general public.

Dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park near the campground.

 

Indiana Dunes National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Indiana Dunes National Park. First a few basics:

  • The Maximum group size for individual campsites is eight people. There are no group campgrounds in Indiana Dunes National Park.
  • Ensure you’re tent/RV is on pavement or the tent pad at all times.
  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • You are not permitted to camp in Indiana Dunes National Park for more than 14 days in a 30-day period.
  • No fireworks.

Fires

Campfires are permitted at the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park provided it is within the provided fire grate. Your campfire should never be left unattended and always be sure it is completely out before walking away. It is also important to ensure that wood brought to the National Park is properly sourced, as firewood can often introduce invasive pests.

It is also worth noting that you should not gather any firewood or try to cut down any trees within Indiana Dunes National Park.

Campfire at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Campfires are permitted at Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

Wildlife

Indiana Dunes National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife. The intersection of wetlands, sand dunes, and Lake Michigan creates a diverse ecosystem that is home to birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. For those camping in Indiana Dunes National Park there are a few important considerations related to wildlife in the park. Campers should be aware of the following:

  • Coyotes: The Indiana Dunes are home to a sizeable population of coyotes. While you’re unlikely to encounter these on any given visit to the national park, it is important to keep your food properly stored to avoid providing the coyotes with an easy meal.
  • Raccoons: Similar to coyotes, raccoons will happily feast on any food left unattended at your campsite. Be sure to properly store all food to avoid encouraging wildlife to enter campgrounds.
  • Birds: Indiana Dunes National Park hosts an incredible diversity of bird species. According to the National Park Service over 350 unique bird species visit the park each year!

You can learn more about the wildlife in Indiana Dunes National Park here. 

Pets

Indiana Dunes National Park generally allows pets in the national park. However, there are a few regulations that you need to be sure and follow. If you plan to bring your pet on your Indiana Dunes camping trip, be sure to adhere to the following:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times – this includes on the beach and in the water!
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds
  • Pets are not allowed on the following trails: Pinhook Bog Trail and the equestrian portion of the Glenwood Dunes Trail.
  • Pets are not allowed at the West Beach lifeguard area from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings.

See the National Park Service map below to get a sense of where pets are prohibited in the Indiana Dunes.

Map of pet areas in Indiana Dunes National Park

Map of pet regulations in Indiana Dunes National Park. Pets are not allowed in the red areas. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Indiana Dunes National Park website here.

 

Where to get supplies

Stocking up on camping supplies before your trip to Indiana Dunes National Park couldn’t be easier. The park’s urban location provides for tons of nearby amenities that are sure to have everything you need for your trip. Your best options are listed below:

  • Michigan City, IN: Michigan City is located just a few miles north along the lake shore from Indiana Dunes National Park. You’ll find everything you need here to stock up for your camping trip including grocery stores, liquor stores, and gas stations.
  • Portage, IN: Portage is located south of the national park along I-94. While not the most convenient place to stop prior to your camping trip, there is a well stocked Bass Pro Shops located here. This will be your best bet for any camping equipment you may have forgotten.
  • Dunes Highway: The Dunes Highway (State Highway 12) cuts right through the national park and runs past the Dunewood Campground. At the intersection with Broadway (the entrance to the Dunewood Campground) you’ll find a gas station, small camp store, and the Goblin & Grocer diner. This is the most convenient for basic needs in the national park.

Bird flying near Michigan City, Indiana

 

Camping near Indiana Dunes National Park

Given the popularity of Indiana Dunes National Park and the fact there is only a single campground in the park, it is always possible that you won’t be able to secure a campsite. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary! Check out your best options below:

RV campgrounds near Indiana Dunes

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Indiana Dunes National Park. Check out all of your options below.

RV campground near the Indiana Dunes

 

Lake Shore Camp Resort

Number of sites: 115 campsites
Fee: $37 – $64/night depending on hookups and time of year.
Capacity: Rates are based on five people per campsite.
RVs: Yes, up to 40′.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Lake Shore Camp Resort is located south of  Indiana Dunes National Park in the town of Portage, IN. A 15 minutes drive from the national park, the Lake Shore Camp Resort is convenient for those coming from Chicago, as it sits just of I-94. Here you’ll get access to free WiFi, a nice picnic area, laundry facilities, and a game room.

Lake Shore Camp Resort can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 40′ in length.

Woodland Village Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40/night with discounts for longer stays.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here or call (219) 762-6578
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Woodland Village Campground is located just 15-minutes south of the Indiana Dunes. This site is a bit smaller than some of the other options in the area and get great reviews for the friendly staff. The campground has plenty of amenities including WiFi, laundry facilities, a small camp store, and over the air TV.

The site is well set-up for those traveling in a RV as all of the sites have full electric and water hookups.

Sand Creek Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $90/night depending on hookups.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call (219) 926-7482
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Sand Creek Campground is located south of the Indiana Dunes and is only a 15 minute drive from the national park. Sand Creek offers campsites that can accommodate large RVs with full hookups as well as a few campsites that are tent only.

Amenities include a swimming pool, WiFi, and laundry facilities.

Michigan City Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40 – $55/night depending on hookups.
Capacity: Prices based on 4 people/campsite. Additional people $5/night.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Michigan City Campground is located in, you guess it, Michigan City, IN. The campground is very well located for those interested in visiting Indiana Dunes National Park as the campground is only a 10 minute drive from the park. The campground has tons of options to suit all camping styles including sites with full hookups, sites that can accommodate full size RVs, and tent camping only sites.

Amenities at the Michigan City Campground include a swimming pool, playground, WiFi access, laundry facilities, and a small camp store.

Car camping sites

If you’re after car camping sites near Indiana Dunes National Park you’ll have at least one good option. In addition to the campground listed below, car camping is permitted at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above. Keep reading below to see what your best bet is for car camping near the Indiana Dunes.

Tent near the Indiana Dunes

 

Sunset Hill Farm Campground

Number of sites: 6 campsites.
Fee: $15/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: No.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 219-465-3586 to make a reservation.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Sunset Hill Farm Campground is located south of Indiana Dunes National Park in Valparaiso, IN. From here, it is an approximate 25 minutes drive to the national park. Sunset Hill is perfect for those looking to camp in their tent, as no RVs are permitted. The campsites are more rustic and are all walk-in only. Each campsite has a fire pit and picnic table as well as access to basic toilets. There is no trash service at Sunset Hill, so you’ll need to pack out your own trash.

There is no potable water at Sunset Hill Farm Campground, so plan to bring all that you’ll need.

Free camping near the Indiana Dunes

Unlike many national parks, Indiana Dunes is not located near other public land. This limits your options for free camping near Indiana Dunes National Park as there is no BLM, Forest Service, or other public land that allows dispersed camping in close proximity.

However, there is always the possibility of spending the night in a Walmart parking lot!

While certainly not the most glamourous, the Walmart in Michigan City, IN does allow overnight parking. You’ll need to stay in your car/RV (no tents), but at least you’ll have a place to park overnight!

Check out the reviews on FreeCampsites.net for more information.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Indiana Dunes National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

Waves on Lake Michigan

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