Indiana Dunes State Park Plans Action Packed Autumn
Catch up with the fall season and all its beauty during many of the activities planned at Indiana Dunes State Park. Whether you’re looking to experience history first-hand, enjoy some lakefront birding, support Hoosier health, or listen to scary stories, there is a little something for everyone this fall.
The season begins Sept. 6-7 with the park’s “History Comes Alive” weekend, and the landing of the Ouiatenon Brigade along the beaches of Lake Michigan. Portraying the French-Canadian voyageurs of the 1700’s, the brigade prides itself in its authenticity of dress, food and general lifestyle. The group encampment will be located near the Pavilion and available for visitors to experience throughout the weekend. Interpretive Naturalists will also be leading hikes to the encampment from the nature center. In addition, other programs highlighting the park’s early history will occur both days, including an evening campfire storytelling session on the beach and a special shipwreck program on Sunday, Sept. 7 at 2 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 6 is also a chance for visitors to join Hoosiers from around the state in for the Governor’s DNR Day INShape Walk. This two mile fitness walk in the dunes begins at 10 a.m. at the Pavilion and is one of more than 20 happening simultaneously throughout the state. Participants can pre-register on Governor Daniels’ website inshape.in.gov, and bring their registration coupon for free admission to the park.
Two weekends of migratory bird awareness will also take place in September, when the Friends of Indiana Dunes, the Northwest Indiana Migratory Bird Association, and the state park kick off fundraising efforts towards a new bird observation tower in the park. The “Big Sit” Birdathon will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20, and will feature 24 hours of birding to raise money for the new tower. Visitors can fill out pledge forms for each species of bird seen that day, or join other birders in the effort. A special sneak peak will be offered on Friday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. when renowned birder and author Ken Brock will offer a look at the Birds of the Indiana Dunes in the Nature Center auditorium. Pledge forms are available at nimbabirds.googlepages.com, and at the Nature Center.
The feature event of the season will take place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11 and 12 with the “Kids Fall Funfest” and “Northwest Indiana Storytelling Festival.” Join the Friends of Indiana Dunes for a weekend of world-class storytelling and fun for all ages. The “Kids Fall Funfest” will take place from 12 to 4 p.m. both days at the Wilson, and Duneside Shelters. Visitors can get a $1 passport to multiple activity booths at the Friends of Indiana Dunes Welcome Booth and enter to win raffle prizes. The “Northwest Indiana Storytellers Festival” will also take place both days from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Nature Center auditorium. Other activities include free hayrides, live bird shows, live music, and the return of last year’s popular pie eating contest!
“Howl”oween returns to haunt the state park on the weekend of Oct. 25 and 26. Spook your campsite for prizes and dress the goblins up for some trick or treating Saturday night in the campground. Special programs looking at owls, bats, and spiders will occur throughout the weekend and will culminate in special spooky night hikes to various park locations.
With the exception of the “Fall Kids Funfest,” all events are free after paying the standard gate fee; $4 Monday-Thursday, $5 Friday-Sunday for in-state vehicles and $10 daily for out-of-state vehicles. All program times are Central Daylight Time (CDT). For more information about these events or any other interpretive programs at the state park, contact the Nature Center at (219) 926-1390.