Self Guided

Thanks for bringing your group to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. As you plan your trip, please use our available resources such as our self-guided hike curriculums. For a printed paper copy of the following curriculums, please email us your mailing address, along with the name of requested curriculum, or call our Education Programs Ranger/Specialist, Christine Gerlach, at 219-395-1885.

Though we cannot always provide a ranger-led hike at our education center, please consider working with the education specialist to set up a Douglas Center visit where you can accomplish a self-guided hike inside and outside the facility. Provided below is one of our three new self-guided programs that adhere to visiting the Douglas Center. Once you have selected your trip date and location, please call our scheduling office at 219-395-1885 so we can put your group on our calendar. We want to know that you are coming because it:

  • helps us coordinate the use of different park areas,

  • helps minimize overbooking the use of the environmental education building

  • enables us to inform you about changes to the area(s) you are visiting, and,

  • allows us to direct you to resources you may not know about.


A Day at the Dunes

"A Day at the Dunes" is a curriculum that teachers can use to lead a self-guided hike of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. There are also pre-visit activities and post-visit activities that we can send to you directly upon request.

NPZ kids playing
A group of students play in the Nature Play Zone at the Douglas Center of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore


Visiting the Nature Play Zone at the Douglas Center

The Nature Play Zone is a new endeavor in the national park service. Our mission is to preserve and protect all natural resources. But, here in this small area at the environmental education center, we have set aside a part of the national park for a hands on play area. Here children may play with, manipulate, and use their imaginations with the natural objects found within.


Self-guided Activity Packet for grades 2-8

Teachers can use this set of activities when visitng the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education. Created by Teacher-Ranger-Teacher, Bill McCullom.


You can also send your requests for printed copies of these curriculums to:

Attn: Christine Gerald
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
1100 N. Mineral Springs Rd.
Porter, IN 46304


West Beach Field Trips:

When scheduling a West Beach field trip through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, you can select either a Self Guided or Ranger Guided visit.

In both cases you MUST...

  • Coordinate the transportation, supervision, educational, and recreational opportunities.
  • Fee Waiver: During the summer months (Friday, Memorial Weekend - Monday, Labor Day), the West Beach area of the park is a Federal Fee Area. Groups visiting the area for genuine educational or scientific purposes during this time may obtain a West Beach Fee Waiver if your group meets established criteria. PLEASE NOTE: If your planned educational visit includes recreation at the lakefront, such as swimming, an educational fee waiver CANNOT be granted.

Last updated: June 4, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304


(219) 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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