15 Reasons to Save our Dunes

Photo of West Beach

What does a prickly pear cactus, Fowler’s toad, Monarch butterfly and beach pea have in common? They all call the dunes their home, and they all need your help! These, along with dozens of other sensitive plants and animals that live in the sandy dunes along Lake Michigan have a hard life in the hot arid sand with little protection from trees, and are adapted to the shifting sands of the dunes. However, the rapid movement of sand caused by human footsteps is something they are struggling with. You see, it only takes a few footsteps to squash, bury, or expose the roots of a plant to kill it in the sand dunes—and having people and dogs running around on the dunes can scare the critters away from their food sources and their families threatening their well-being and reproduction success. We are loving the dunes to death by accelerating erosion. So next time you visit—or walk out your back door into the park, please help save the dunes by hiking only on the official trails. Enjoy the views of Pitcher’s thistle, Artic bearberry, Jack pines, Sandhill cranes and more from the 50+ miles of marked trails at places like West Beach, Miller Woods, and Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for more information on 15 reasons to save the dunes!


Check Out These Cool Tats!

Images below are available as temporary tattoos, which can be picked up at either the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center or the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education.

Fowler's Toad Tattoo
Fowler's Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
Monarch Tattoo
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
(En Español)
Coming Soon!
Pitcher's thistle (Cirsium pitcheri)
Coming Soon!
Coming Soon!
Jack pine (Pinus banksiana)
Coming Soon!
The Dunes!
Coming Soon!
Arctic bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Coming Soon!
Beach pea (Lathyrus japonicus)
Coming Soon!
Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis)
Coming Soon!
Six-lined racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata) (not rare, but who doesn't love a lizard?)
Coming Soon!
Piping plover (Charadrius melodus)
Coming Soon!
Nodding Lady's tresses (Spiranthes cernu)
Coming Soon!
Fringed gentian (Gentiana crinita)
Coming Soon!
Horned bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta)
Coming Soon!
Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
Coming Soon!
Hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
Coming Soon!
Snakemouth orchid/rose pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides)

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Last updated: June 8, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304


219 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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