Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
The Indiana Dunes, of which the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IDNL) preserves a part, are a relatively recent product of sand deposition, wave erosion, and wind erosion on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. During the warming process that ended the last Ice Age, the lake at several periods rose to levels much higher than the current lake level and laid down sandy shorelines and beaches at points that are now inland from the current coastline. Today's lake waves and currents continue to bring more sand ashore from beds underneath the surface of the current lake. This sand, further sculpted by wind and foot erosion, has become today's Indiana Dunes.
Flora and fauna
The Indiana Dunes area is accessible from Chicago by Interstates 80, 90, and 94; from Indianapolis by Interstate 65; from Detroit by Interstate 94; and from Cleveland and the East Coast by Interstates 80 and 90. U.S. Highways 12 and 20 go directly through the park.
The Indiana Dunes is served by the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend electric railroad, known as the "South Shore Line", from Chicago, Michigan City, and South Bend. There are approximately 12 trains through the IDNL each way on weekends, with 9 trains each way on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
As of January 1, 2006, the admission fee for entering the Indiana Dunes State Park section of the National Lakeshore was $10.00 per motor vehicle. The fee covers the driver and passengers, and there is a discount for motor vehicles with Indiana license plates.
One of the IDNL's beaches, West Beach near Beverly Shores, has a summer parking and entry fee. As of December 2005, the announced parking fee was $6.00 per motor vehicle, $30.00 per bus and $1.00 per pedestrian or bicycle entry. Fees are charged at West Beach from mid-May onward for the duration of the "summer swimming season" (no set end date).
Most inland sections of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore can be visited year-round without an admission fee. Parking fees may be charged during seasonal festivals.
The IDNL contains Dunewood Campground, a 79-site camping ground operated by the National Park Service. As of December 2005, the fee was $15.00 per day.