Indiana Dunes National Park Will Require an Entry Fee Starting in March
Visitors to Indiana Dunes National Park will soon have to pay to explore as the park will be implementing an entry fee starting March 31.
The fee for the park, which sits along the shores of Lake Michigan, will start at $15 per person for walk-ins, bikes, and boats, with a maximum of $25 per family, according to the National Park Service. Vehicles will be charged $25 for up to seven days, and motorcycles will be charged $20. Visitors can buy an annual pass for $45.
"This is a positive step to keep the park accessible, safe and vibrant for all, while allowing us to grow and meet the increased needs of our visitors," park superintendent Paul Labovitz said in a statement. "Out of town guests expect a fee at most places they visit and everyone can obtain an annual pass for what might be the best bargain in town. Stepping up our maintenance and public safety is needed as well as expanding our role in bringing new amenities forward."
The new fee will be used to pay for improvements in visitor services, parking, and transportation. The money will also be used to fund the Marquette Greenway Bike Trail, which The Associated Press reported is a planned regional trail that will connect Northwest Indiana's Lake Michigan shoreline communities between Chicago and New Buffalo, Michigan.
Travelers can purchase one of the new entry passes at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, the Paul H Douglas Center, seasonally at the West Beach Entrance Station, or online at recreation.gov. The annual pass will be available to purchase starting March 1.
While most visitors will have to pay a fee, anyone who holds a federal land pass (like an annual pass, senior pass, veterans, military, or gold star family pass, fourth grade pass, access pass, or the volunteer pass) will be exempt.
The Indiana Dunes National Park stretches along 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan, featuring hiking trails and wetlands across 15,000 acres. And it has become increasingly popular: Since Feb. 2019, the park has seen its attendance grow from 1.7 million visitors to more than 3 million visitors, according to the NPS.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.