During the summer months, finding a place to park can to be a challenge. Parking areas closer to the beach tend to fill up first. All of the access areas are no more than a block from the beach. All access lots offer restroom facilities and a drinking fountain.
All parking areas in the national lakeshore are free of charge except for West Beach, which has access 596 spaces. Located on County Line Road northwest of Portage, the user fees are $6.00 per vehicle and $30.00 per bus.
Continuing from west to east, the newest beach access point is Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk. Turn on Hwy. 249 North, cross over the Burns Harbor waterway and follow the signs. Allow yourself time to relax at a picnic table at the pavilion while enjoying the waves on Lake Michigan's waterfront. Over 100 parking spaces shimmy up to the pavilion, an award winning, environmentally savvy building which even recycles its rainwater.
The Waverly Road (Porter) access point is north of U.S. 12. This popular beach area shares its eastern boundary with the Indiana Dunes State Park. The lot has 55 parking spaces. This lot usually fills quickly.
The Kemil Road access point shares its western boundary with the Indiana Dunes State Park. A short ¼-mile walking trail along the road will lead you to the beachfront. This lot has an 81 parking spaces. A one mile hiking trail connects to the south side of the lot and showcases various dune habitats.
The Dunbar access point, with a 26 parking spaces, is the smallest lot. The lake is just across the road. Follow Lakefront Drive east to the first stop sign and turn right. This lot is also adjacent to the Century of Progress (1933 World's Fair) which are beign restored under agreement with the National Historic Landmark Foundation.
The closest access point to the lakefront, the Lake View access point, has 40 parking spaces and is usually the first lot to fill. Wayside exhibits describe how Lake Michigan and the sand dunes are formed and what fish are in Lake Michigan.
The Central Avenue access point offers spectacular tall dunes ath the water's edge. Parking here allows for 70 vehicles.
Mount Baldy (TEMPORARILY CLOSED) has 120 parking spaces. Visitors must hike around the side of the park's tallest dune to reach the beach. From the summit trail, visitors have spectacular views.