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  1. #1
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    Default Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore moves closer to becoming a National Park

    http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/g...60a3f7d70.html

    Interesting. I wonder how the Lakeshore will be changed should it become a National Park?

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    Been hearing this as well... I can see it from my window at work.

    If it opened up to backpacking that would be wonderful. Pretty amazing dayhiking places but no (legal) overnight backpacking options.

    I'd be interested to hear if the State Park will be absorbed into the overall national park or if it will remain separate.

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    This is great news as I am formerly from SW Mich and will give me another place to hike when I visit the area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Bill View Post
    I'd be interested to hear if the State Park will be absorbed into the overall national park or if it will remain separate.
    I would be surprised if Indiana Dunes S.P. gets absorbed into the proposed N.P. With it's proximity to Chicagoland it is one of the Indiana DNR's most visited parks, easily in the top 5. So it brings a lot of $ into the DNR's coffers.

    And like you it would be great to have some overnight backpacking options along the lakeshore.

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    Update: It finally happened. Indiana Dunes is now the nation's 61st National Park: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/...f46b2b68f.html

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    The two National Lakeshores in MI, Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear are much nicer than Indiana Dines and each is nearly 5 times larger. I wonder why they don't qualify?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    The two National Lakeshores in MI, Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear are much nicer than Indiana Dines and each is nearly 5 times larger. I wonder why they don't qualify?
    You forgot to get your former governor elected to VP?

    From a visitors perspective... I agree with your assessment of Michigan's parks and general shoreline being much better.

    As a backpacker... clearly no contest as currently there are no legal backpacking options at Indiana Dunes.

    Michigan is still Pure Michigan.
    Indiana is purely crossroads... but where eastern, prairie, swamp, bog, lake, dune, glacial, northern, and southern ecology slams into each other it does make for some interesting stuff.

    From a park history perspective... the area is often credited as the birthplace of ecology. There are also some extremely unique and bio-diverse areas you'd need an ecologist, entomologist, botanist, biologist and perhaps a few other 'ist's' this carpenter is not able to quantify. There are large portions of the park that are not publicly accessible due to the various endangered, rare, or even in a few cases 'this plant grows on the back of one dune in the world' type stuff. How that compares to what's in Michigan's lakeshore on that score I cannot really say. But even being ignorant on the topic it's easy to notice walking through 4-8 different ecosystems here in indiana when you travel the few miles from inland to lakeshore as opposed to the more limited diversity when making the same walks in Sleeping Bear and Pictured Rocks. The Miller Beach and Cowles Bog hikes here in particular are pretty wild that way. There are also lots of 'not lakeshore' like Tolleston Dunes that get overlooked but are pretty neat if less flashy than being 200' above the lake on a windswept dune. The area in general is all glacial till... with ketttle lakes, old bog, and lots of other 'oddities' crammed into a pretty small area that does stretch a good 20 miles in from the shore itself. Been a long time since I got up to Pictured Rocks... and you'd never hear me dismiss a fine stroll through the northwoods... but that's mainly what I remember once you go inland off the shoreline. Beautiful forest for sure... and beautiful lakeshore worthy of preservation and use... but there is something unique even this layman can see here.

    From a cynics perspective... as the article mentions... something about the word "park" changes public perception in terms of increasing tourism.
    After the steel mills closed there isn't much going here along the lakeshore and other than a property tax haven for Chicagoan commuting back each day... most of them consider Indiana that place you gotta drive through to get to Michigan. And most of the other folks in Indiana consider northern indiana 'east chicago' and home of no true hoosiers regardless so I don't even know how many folks in "true" Indiana consider this a park for the state. This region is a bit like the UP in that regard politically. (Or the state of Chicago, within the state of Illinois). Arguably Michigan has always done better promoting itself and I still feel it's one of the best places in the country in summer and fall to visit so it's not an idle boast... but poor ol Indiana is easy to overlook and often discarded. As far as political will goes... if there's money to be made then there's a politician willing to back it. They are pretty generous with the 'dunes region' promotion as far as what fits where... but it would be hard to argue that western michigan doesn't offer the same mix of lakeshore and high end urban offerings either. There are a dozen or more towns that few of us could afford to visit... so in some sense Indiana still remains the poor man's lakefront vacation destination.

    That said... the region is doing much better and has been aggressively promoting it's tourism opportunities as well as cleaning itself up and getting back on its feet.
    As 'done in a day' type visits are more popular in many ways the indiana lakeshore is much better for that style of visitor. There are some pretty amazing hikes of short duration that really transport you quickly out of the midwest. The long sprawling park with dozens of entry points makes this easier too. The Oak Savanna areas are a literal breath of fresh air.

    The proximity (and rail access) from Chicago are probably a factor too I'd guess as it is quite literally in the backyard of the third largest City in the Country and can use all the protection it can get.

    Overall though... call it one down and more to go in my opinion.
    Personally I hope it may encourage or help develop an actual backpacking option... but I doubt it.
    It does give the surrounding area something to be proud of beyond a bunch of closed out mills and economic wasteland.
    As MacBrave predicted... looks like the state park will remain it's own unit. With only about 50 sites and a dozen walk in sites the only National property with camping is Dunewood Campground... so a second campground seems like a more realistic wishlist upgrade to compliment the newly minted "Park" status as these two places were already booked solid before the designation. (Dunewood is first come first served, but that often means people drive there on a wednesday or thursday night to buy up the limited sites for the weekend.) Course we are talking government so that could be years and years away before they expand camping options... but that seems the most realistic as they have a pretty solid visitors center and other facilities in place already. Though I suspect those pushing to put 'heads in beds' would be quite happy if visitors continued to spill over into the nearby hotels and towns rather than confine themselves to the park.

    Michigan's nice... enjoy it. Folks are realizing that fact but it's still a good car ride and harder place to visit even for a relative local like me.
    Nothing wrong with Indiana Dunes getting a little love before someone realizes they can plow it all under and expand Chicago.
    This park was one 30 minute express train away from that being a real possibility within a generation or so... and there's still those who dream of rebuilding the port and surrounding industry to it's former glory.
    Still time before that's a serious threat to either Michigan park.

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    The answer is simple. This has nothing to do with merit and everything to do with politics.

    The only thing that will change is that the NPS will spend millions of dollars changing signs and letterheads. This has no positive impact on the park's budget.
    Be Prepared

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCloud View Post
    The answer is simple. This has nothing to do with merit and everything to do with politics.

    The only thing that will change is that the NPS will spend millions of dollars changing signs and letterheads. This has no positive impact on the park's budget.
    Or they could just go the cheap route: 5c67357509164.image.jpg

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Bill View Post
    You forgot to get your former governor elected to VP?

    From a visitors perspective... I agree with your assessment of Michigan's parks and general shoreline being much better.

    As a backpacker... clearly no contest as currently there are no legal backpacking options at Indiana Dunes.

    Michigan is still Pure Michigan.
    Indiana is purely crossroads... but where eastern, prairie, swamp, bog, lake, dune, glacial, northern, and southern ecology slams into each other it does make for some interesting stuff.

    From a park history perspective... the area is often credited as the birthplace of ecology....
    I got my Biology degree from Valpo just down the road from the Indiana Dunes. We took lots of field trips to the dunes to study the various habitats. Professors can get special permission to get to some of those places that are otherwise off limits. My ecology prof studied at the Univ. of Chicago were the principles of successions were developed over 100 years using the Indiana Dunes as a model, but the same effects are seen in the dunes all around the lakes. Just about every park with a dune has an informational sign about succession.

    One rare plant you can see right on the dunes is that Pitcher's Thistle. It only grows in the Great Lakes Dunes. We have it in our small local dune park. It's more widespread at the Nordhouse Dunes and SBDNL. It looks a bit like Beach Wormwood which will grow in the same location. It helps to see them together so you know which is which.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirsium_pitcheri
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_campestris

    IDNP is definitely too small to allow for any backpacking. For lakeshore backpacking, I did a weekend backpacking trip around North Manitou Island, which is part of SBDLN. The whole island is managed as wilderness except for the park buildings and campground by the ferry dock. We camped on the south side with a view of South Manitou Island across the channel. Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness is also great. Not big enough to put in many miles, but you can hike in and camp anywhere you want. SBDNL does have a backcountry campsite, but it is a short hike in and out, not part of a through hike. I've studied the PRNL maps looking to see where they couldn't put in a long distance hiking trail, but that does not seem to be part of their plan, unfortunately.

    PRNL of course has the 45 mile long section of the NCT that follows the lake from Grand Maris to Munising. What makes this such a spectacular hike is how each day will be different from the others. The first section gives you views of the area away from the lake as well as the giant perched dunes at Log Slide. The only other place like this would be SBDNL. Then the middle third is 12 mile beach which is (you guessed it) a 12 mile beach. Chapel Beach at the west end is one of the most spectacularly scenic beaches you will find anywhere, although for camping I prefer Pine Bluff as it is less crowded, more remote, and campfires are allowed. Then for the last section you hike along the cliffs that give the park its name.

  11. #11
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    Since it went to NPS status CG development will be ensue either in the new NP and/or nearby as it's being touted as an overnight destination.
    Agree PR is nice.

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