The Dunes Learning Center is Ready for Summer Fun

Visit the DLC to “trade screen time for green time!”

Grae Stockhausen, News Section Editor

Living near a national park has many benefits, so many resources are just minutes away, and the Dunes hold so much knowledge about the land around us. The Learning Center offers many programs for all ages, all centered around the wildlife in the park and its habitats. The Indiana Dunes National Park is ranked fourth place among all National Parks for the most biodiversity (There are 423 National Parks). One of the most popular attractions is the workshops held by the Naturalists and professionals. There are many variations of the workshops, but the most recent that are being advertised are Forest Bathing, Frog History, Conservation, and Identification, and An Intro to Wild Edibles in the Dunes. 

If paying for Park activities isn’t the most appealing, then the next best option would be hiking along the many trails that snake through the park. A total of 14 hiking trails can be found inside the Dunes National Park, from easygoing walks to rugged terrain hikes. There’s a lot of variety in the trails as well, spanning from forest views to wetland wonders. There are also many beach and dune trails that are available for trekking, with scenic views of the Dunes that are so loved all around. 

In addition to that, summer camps are held, one for young kids during the day, then an overnight camp for middle school-aged kids, and then finally, a teen camp. The camps begin in June and end in July, all of them balanced so none of them coincide. The young kids camp allows for young children to connect with nature around them and the animals at Chellberg Farm. They’ll participate in taking care of the animals, nature hikes, and STEM activities. The tween camp does a more mature version of that, going on longer hikes and even going down to the Little Calumet River to learn about the wildlife that occupies the Parks waterways. 

The park is known best for one specific thing and it is one of its biggest attractions: the Dunes! People come from all over the world to see the large sand dunes and trek them, exploring what erosion and the natural ecosystems around us have created. The Dunes also merge into the beach that greets Lake Michigan. 

There are fees to gain admittance to the National Park and, according to the Indiana Dunes National Park Service website, the entrance fee is $25 for a non-commercial family-sized passenger vehicle or $15 per-person for walk-in / bike-in / boat-in. The Indiana Dunes National Park Annual pass is $45 and is good for a family for one year. The State Park uses a different pass and has different fees from the National Park though, because the State Park is owned by the State of Indiana, while the National Park is owned by the federal government. The state park charges a daily entrance fee per car for almost the entire year ($7 for Indiana plates, $12 for out-of-state plates). The state park does sell a state park annual pass that is accepted at all Indiana State Parks according to the Indiana Dunes National Park Service website.