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Indiana Dunes State Park in “Best State Parks”

Indiana Dunes State Park

ABOVE: Indiana Dunes State Park. Photo provided by Indiana Dunes Tourism.

Guest Blogger:
Ken Kosky, Indiana Dunes Tourism

Indiana Dunes State Park has been selected as one of the “Best State Parks” in Midwest Living magazine’s Best of the Midwest 2011 publication.

The publication stated visitors to Dunes State Park can enjoy swimming in Lake Michigan, sliding down the huge Devil’s Slide dune and hiking on great trails.

Dunes State Park is one of four Indiana state parks to be chosen among the best state parks, joining Brown County State Park, Falls of the Ohio State Park and Turkey Run State Park.

“It’s great to see Indiana Dunes get this kind of acknowledgement on a regional level (in the Midwest),” said Brandt Baughman, park manager at Indiana Dunes State Park.

“I feel locals are very aware of what a gem it is, but many people from outside the area are amazed that such a beautiful, unique setting exists in Indiana. We’re very honored to be chosen from among all of Indiana’s great state parks.”

Indiana has 25 state parks and eight reservoirs, Baughman said.

The Best of the Midwest 2011 publication also featured a section called Best of the Midwest Indiana, and it directed people to More Trips to Try, one of which was in Porter County. The Porter County trip involves enjoying the shops and cultural attractions of Valparaiso and visiting the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The guide encourages visitors to dine at Bistro 157 in Valparaiso and Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill and Tavern in Beverly Shores.

Even More Recognition from USA Today

Indiana Dunes State Park has again garnered national attention, this time being chosen by USA Today as one of the best places in the nation to hike.

USA Today last week did a feature called “51 scenic hikes” — and they enlisted local experts to pick one great place to hike in each state and the District of Columbia. In Indiana, USA Today chose Dunes State Park based on a recommendation from Sally McKinney, author of Hiking Indiana.

The USA Today article stated, “East of the Nature Center, choose the wide, sandy path to Indiana Dunes Nature Preserve . Enter black oak and maple forest and find dramatic dune country blowouts amid shifting sand hills. Green grasses and sedge poke up between matted, dry leaves; moss forms a natural carpet. From the crest of high dunes, look out over vast Lake Michigan.”

Brandt Baughman, park manager at Indiana Dunes State Park, said the description fits the park’s Trail 9, one of six trails in the park which together total 16.5 miles.

Baughman was pleased the park was recognized as a hiker’s destination just a short time after Midwest Living magazine named the park one of its “Best State Parks.”

“This is one I can certainly agree with,” Baughman said.

“Our trail system in the state park is certainly phenomenal, among the best I’ve been on anywhere, and I’m glad to see it recognized. It’s such a unique trail system and a diverse trail system. You’re not going to see anything else like it in Indiana and the rest of the Midwest.”

Baughman said although Trail 9 is certainly as great as described, all of the park’s trails have their own unique attractions.

USA Today, in picking 51 scenic hikes, wrote, “From sinuous, scenic paths to arduous, awe-inspiring treks, the country is ribboned with trails that beckon the casual and stalwart hiker alike. USA TODAY asked local experts to name one great place to hike in each state and the District of Columbia.”

Porter County’s parks and attractions have attracted a lot of positive attention this season. In its June edition, Parents magazine picked Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s West Beach as one of the Top 10 Best Family Beaches in the nation.

Visit www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm for more information about Indiana Dunes State Park.

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