Central Beach Exploration

A sharp-lobed hepatica plant displaying purple blooms.

10 Things to Find and Do

 
Trunk and bark of a cottonwood tree with blues of the lake and sky behind it.

Overview

Use this explorers page to think about Central Beach along Lake Michigan's shore. You can explore virtually or by taking a visit to the site. Send in your answers to the following 10 questions, and any additional observations or images by emailing Ranger Julie.

 

Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Explore an area of their neighborhood national park and share their observations with park staff.

  • Use their senses to connect more deeply with the natural world.

  • Begin the scientific method of observation leading to discovery.

 
A restoration fence with an unofficial social trail going around it.
A restoration fence with an unofficial social trail going around it.

Kim Swift

Please be a good visitor!

Stay on the trail, and don’t bypass the restoration fences. The park is working to stabilize the dune and keep visitors safe.

Use Leave No Trace principles.

 
View of Lake Michigan from the edge of Central Beach

#1: As you climb down to the beach, be careful to avoid the chunks of rock. Is this rock natural or manmade? How can you tell?

 
The blue of the sky merges with the blue of the lake

#2: Look into the lake and describe its color without using the words "blue" or "green."

 
A light green wormwood plant casting its shadow on the tan sand.

#3: Find a plant growing close to the shore. Describe it, take a photo and try to identify it! To help with identification, you could try using a free application such as "Seek" or "iNaturalist."

 
Water emerging from the base of a dune by hitting an impermeable clay layer. The seeping water carries sand and creates unique formations.

#4: Find a pattern, small or large. Describe it and make a hypothesis on how it was created.

 
View of Central Beach dunes looking up from the beach. Blue sky frames the immense pile of sand eroding at the shore.

#5: When on the beach, look up to the tops of the high dunes in front of you. If you could stack yourself on top of yourself, how many “yous” would you need to reach the top of the dune? Multiply this by your height in feet to get your estimate in how tall the dune is.

 
Red and yellow columbine in bloom along the trail to Central Avenue Beach

#6: Describe the smell along the lakeshore. What does it remind you of?

 
American Giant Millipede at Central Avenue Beach

#7: Scientists estimate there are more stars in the known universe than all the grains of sand on Earth. But there are more water molecules in 10 drops of water than all the stars in the known universe. Scales are bizarre. If you could shrink to any size to explore Indiana Dunes National Park- what would you shrink to and what would you explore?

 
The beach at Central Avenue with hunks of clay interspersed among the sand.

#8: The lake pushes many things onto the beach. Try to find something natural and something unnatural that has washed ashore. Describe them and hypothesize their origin!

 
Lake Michigan from Central Avenue Beach

#9: Can you spot the Chicago skyline around 35 miles away? Try sketching it (whether it’s there or not!)

 
A view looking west down Central Avenue Beach. The steep dune is littered with piles of fallen sand at its base.

#10: Make a prediction. If lake levels remain high or even continue to rise, what are some the effects you would expect to see here?

 

Share your explorations with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #INDUexplorers and be sure to tag the location in your photos and answers.

Send us your answers and additional observations now

 

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Central Beach Exploration

1. As you climb down to the beach, be careful and avoid the chunks of rock. Is this rock natural or manmade? How can you tell?

2. Look out into the lake and describe its color without using the words “blue” or “green.”

3. Find a plant growing close to the shore. Describe it, take a photo and try to identify it! To help with identifying, you could try using an app that you can download for free on your phone such as “Seek” by iNaturalist.

4. Find a pattern, small or large, and make a hypothesis on what created it.

5. When on the beach, look up to the tops of the high dunes in front of you. If you could stack yourself on top of yourself, how many “yous” would you need to reach the top of the dune? Multiply this by your height in feet to get your estimate in how tall the dune is.

6. Describe the smell along the lakeshore. Does it remind you of anything?

7. A lot of sand or a little sand? Scientists estimate there are more stars in the known universe than all the grains of sand on Earth. But there are more water molecules in 10 drops of water than all the stars in the known universe. Scales are bizarre. If you could shrink to any scale to explore Indiana Dunes National Park- what would you shrink to and what would you explore?

8. The lake pushes many things onto the beach. Try to find something natural and something unnatural that has washed ashore. Describe them and hypothesize their origins.

9. Can you spot the Chicago skyline around 35 miles away? Try sketching it (whether it’s there or not!)

10. Make a prediction. If lake levels remain high or even continue to rise, what are some the affects you would expect to see here?

Share your explorations with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #INDUexplorers and be sure to tag the location in your photos and answers.

Last updated: April 24, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter , IN 46304

Phone:

219 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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