Indiana state is famous globally as the “Covered Bridge Capital” because there are 32 covered bridges alone in Historic Parke County, which are discoverable through a road trip. Apart from the Indiana national parks, the state is also famous by the name of “great lakes state” since it shares 40 miles of shoreline with Lake Michigan.
The four national parks in Indiana are renowned as outdoor adventure destinations, namely the Indiana Dunes National Park, President Lincoln’s Boyhood Cabin, George Roger Clark, and the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail. Of the four national parks, Indiana Dunes National Park is a must-see destination.
Indiana Dunes National Park and George Rogers Clark National Historical Park are national parks in the term’s true meaning. And, the other two national parks in Indiana, i.e., Lincoln’s Boyhood National Memorial and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, are the two memorial sites in Indiana, recognized for their routes of historical significance or original trails by the National Historic Trails.
Let’s check more details about each of the national parks in Indiana and see how we can spend our day if we plan a trip there.
The Four Noted Indiana National Parks
1. Indiana Dunes National Park:
Of the four celebrated Indiana national parks, this one is an unmissable destination if you are in the state. The national park shares 15 miles with the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Indiana Dunes National Park is spread over 15,000 acres and has a lot to offer.
Your search for rare species of birds will end here, along with 1,100 native plant species and the fun of flying kites on the sandy beach. You will feel enchanted with every step you take in this national park as this place is among the most biologically rich areas in the nation.
The park offers 50 miles of trails over rugged dunes, sunny prairies, mysterious wetlands, peaceful forests, and meandering rivers for hikers. Shall we now check out basic information about the national park to plan our tour accordingly?
Directions To The Park: You can access Indiana Dunes National Park through Interstate 94, the Indiana Toll Road, U.S. Highway 12 & 20, Indiana State Road 49, and several other local roads. To visit the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, you need to take Indiana State Road 49, between U.SD. Highway 20 and Interstate 94.
Operating Hours Of The National Park: This Indiana national park has general areas that are open throughout the year but have specific hours of operation. The standard working hours of the general areas of the national park are Monday to Sunday from 06:00 am to 11:00 pm.
The entrance to the Indiana Dunes National Park is through the west beach. The hours of operation of this portion of the park is Monday to Saturday from 07:00 am to 09:00 pm.
Weather News: Usually, July is the warmest month in the national park, and January is the coldest month. June month witnesses the heaviest rainfall with 4.66 inches of rain on average.
Entrance Fees To The Park:
- West Beach – Standard Entrance Fee $6.00, Senior Pass Entrance Fee $3.00, Access Pass Entrance Fee $3.00, Bus Entrance Fee $30.00.
- Dunewood Campground – Standard Camping Fee $25.00, Senior Pass Camping Fee $12.50, Access Pass Camping Fee $12.50. This campground is 1.5 miles from the beach and boasts 67 campsites made for both RVs and tent camping.
One-half of the site is open for reserve, and the other half is given on a first-come-first-served basis. You will find showers and restrooms at the campground but no water or electric hookups.
Indiana Dunes Visitors Centers:
- Dorothy Buell Visitor Center – This Indiana national park visitor center is open on all days except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The operation hours are 09:00 am to 04:00 pm Central Time (Due to covid-19). At Dorothy Buell, you will view lobby displays, read brochures about Porter County, Dunes State Park, Indiana, and Indiana Dunes National Park. You can also shop in the Eastern National Bookstore and enjoy watching educational displays and two short orientation videos.
- Paul H. Douglas Center For Environmental Education – This visitor center is open from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm Central Time during Summers and from 09:00 am to 04:00 pm during Winters. This center is your gateway to the magnificent Paul H. Douglas Trail via Miller Woods. You will find a natural environment all through the center through its hands-on educational exhibits, animals, lectures, Nature Play Zone, ranger-guided hikes, and crafts.
Popular Activities To Do At The National Park:
- Picnic at the beach.
- Fishing and Paddling.
- Horse Riding on the equestrian trails.
- Camping (Between April 1st to October 31st).
- Snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
Shuttle Bus Services: During the summer period, on weekends, you can take the services of free shuttle buses from the Dunewood Campground to the beaches. You can stop at sites like the Miller Train Station, Marquette Park, Lake Street Beach, and The Douglas Center.
Pet Friendliness: Indiana Dunes National Park is completely dog-friendly. You can take your pet to almost all trails and other parts of the park, besides a few exceptions. For example, you cannot take your pets on Glenwood Dunes Trail’s equestrian part, in the lifeguard area of the West Beach, and the Pinhook Bog Trail.
You can enjoy a free public wi-fi facility at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
2. George Rogers Clark National Historical Park:
Located on Southwest Indiana and beside the Wabash River, George Rogers Clark National Historical Park is one of the small Indiana national parks, which has a few monuments, a picnic spot, statutes, and a visitor center as its main center of attraction. The national park is about an hour tour in total.
Why Was George Rogers Clark National Historical Park Built?
George Rogers Clark National Park was built in the 1920s in memory of an American Colonel named George Rogers Clark, who captured Fort Sackville in 1779 and his army with help from French residents of the Illinois country. The capture of the fort guaranteed the United States a claim to the frontier, which is approximately an area as big as the original 13 states.
The National Park is a memorial built to commemorate Clark’s success for his unmatchable success for the revolutionary war’s 150th anniversary. When you visit this national park’s visitor center, you will discover the fort’s history, how it was built, and how it felt living in the Pullman District. In addition, at the national park, you will be shown a 30-minute short film on the life of George Rogers Clark.
Things To Do At The George Rogers Clark National Park
A short walk around the nearby town of Vincennes will offer you the following things to do at this small Indiana national park:
- Dine at restaurants.
- Camping at Campgrounds.
- The Old Cathedral.
- State Historic Sites.
- Shops to shop.
- Antique Stores.
There are particularly no campgrounds at George Rogers Clark National Park. But, visitors can find campgrounds for RV and tent camping at the Ouabache Trails Park, located in Vincennes.
Space For Pets: Your leashed pets can accompany you on the walkways around the Memorial and the visitor center, but their entry inside any buildings is strictly prohibited.
Operating Hours: The park is open for visitors on all seven days of the week. At the same time, it is closed on most of the federal holidays except Independence Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day.
Timings for the Park District: George Rogers Clark Memorial is from 09:00 am to 04:45 pm on demand.
Weather At The Park: The weather inside the national park is very much typical for the Midwest. Summer months can be hot and humid, and winters quite cool.
Entrance Fees To The Park: For a George Rogers Clark National Park tour, there is no entrance fee charged.
The Visitors Centers To Visit: This Indiana national park has one visitor center with the same name as the national park. This center has a small exhibit area. You will be shown a short 30-minute introductory movie titled “Long Knives,” which tells about the backstory of George Rogers Clark and his military campaign. No drinks or food are allowed at the visitor center or Memorial. Services offered here are charging stations, restrooms, bookstores, and drinking fountains.
3. Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial:
In the southern part of Indiana and Lincoln City, you will find the third Indiana national park, named Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. This is where former President Abraham Lincoln grew from youth to manhood before becoming the 16th President of the United States of America.
Operating Hours Of The Lincoln Boyhood National Park: All visitors are allowed to tour the national park grounds and visit all the outside areas daily, between sunrise and sunset. Once you arrive at the park, there are plenty of things that you can do, such as two miles of trails, watching the sculptured panels on the outside of the Lincoln Memorial Visitor Center, visiting the Cabin-Site Memorial, the Pioneer Cemetery, and the Living Historical Farm. Unfortunately, the park is closed on almost all federal holidays.
Weather At The Park: The climate in Southern Indiana is moderate, with a touch of warmness and moistness. The summers are warmer and winters cooler. It rains the most during Spring.
Visitor Center At The Park: The Lincoln Boyhood park has a Memorial Visitor Center built in 1943 with two memorial halls and a connecting cloister. In the Memorial Court, you will find the works of E.H. Daniels and five sculptured panels that mark significant periods in Abraham Lincoln’s life. Taking a tour of the whole Memorial will take up to 30 to 60 minutes.
There is also an orientation film shown at the visitor center every half an hour from 08:00 am to half an hour before the day’s closing. The Museum artifacts and exhibits speak about Abraham Lincoln’s life.
This national park is all about Lincoln’s family, boyhood, and frontier life in this Indiana national park area. During summers, the visitor center is open on all seven days from 09:00 am to 04:00 pm except for the federal holidays. And, at the time of the Fall season, the timings are 07:00 am to 03:00 pm.
Place For Pets At The Park: Visitors are permitted to bring in their pets inside the park, but with certain restrictions. The pets must be restrained at all times on a leash, which should not be longer than six feet in length.
The pets are only allowed on the 2 miles of hiking trails and roads in the park and barred from entering public buildings.
Things You Can Do At The Park: It will take at least two hours to complete a tour of the whole park. The indoor activities at the park include:
- Watching the Park Film at the Memorial, titled Forging Greatness and Lincoln in Indiana, which is 14 minutes in length.
- Paying a visit at the Lincoln in Indiana Museum, which would take around 15 to 30 minutes.
The outdoor activities include:
- Hike the Trail of Twelve Stones, a type of front-country hiking of 20 minutes.
- Hike the Boyhood Trail, which is another front-country hike of 10 to 15 minutes.
- Visiting the Lincoln Living Historical Fa, you’ll find a re-created homestead with outbuildings, log cabins, field crops, gardens, livestock, and split rail fences.
- For kids of 05 years and above, there is a Junior Lincoln Boyhood Ranger Program.
- Lincoln Spring, which is an obscure waterway.
The entry to the Lincoln Boyhood Indiana national park is free.
4. Lewis And Clark National Historic Trail:
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is nearly 4,900 miles long, starting from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the Columbia River mouth, which is near the present-day Astoria, Oregon. This Indiana national park follows the historic incoming and outgoing routes of the Lewis and Clark Expedition along with the preceding section initiating from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the Wood River in Illinois.
This Trail connects 16 U.S. States and many Tribal lands. Today, visitors are allowed to explore the whole Trail using varied transportation methods and interpretive means, following the approximate route of the Corps of Discovery, i.e. Lewis and Clark Expedition Members.
Places To Visit In Lewis And Clark National Park:
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Visitor Centers and Museums: At Lewis and Clark Historic Trail Museums and Visitor Centers and Cultural Centers, visitors can learn more about the expedition and experience blissful and diversified landscapes and communities on the Trail.
Directions To The National Park: You will find the Lewis and Clark Indiana national park visitor center inside the DOI, National Park Service.
Weather At The Park: The summers are sweltering, so you must drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen when stepping out for a tour of the Trail. The winters are icy, with ice settling on trails and sidewalks. Since this Trail covers 16 U.S. states, you must watch the weather prediction of the state you are planning to visit.
The Final Thoughts
We hope that the above comprehensive guide on Indiana national parks is a one-stop solution and a valuable guide for you if you plan a trip to any of the four national parks and trails. From serenity to beautiful natural landscapes, from magnificent and ancient monuments to rare species of animals, you will find every part of each of the four national parks surprising.