Fishing & Boating



Fishing is allowed under federal, state and local laws. You need an Indiana Fishing License and a stamp if fishing for trout and salmon. Watch for drop-offs in creeks and along beaches.

Boaters must stay 500 feet away from marked swimming areas, even when beaching. Nearby communities offer boat-launches. Personal watercraft are prohibited.

For additional information about fishing we recommend visiting the following web links:


Sailing & Powerboating

Sailing and power boating are popular on Lake Michigan. There are no marinas, boat rentals or boat launches within the national park. There are services are available through commercial and city facilities in Porter, Lake and LaPorte counties. Check these county tourism links for information.

Porter County:
Lake County:
LaPorte County:



Kayaking is increasingly popular on Lake Michigan since the inception of the Lake Michigan Water Trail and in area waterways like the Little Calumet River and Burns Waterway. Try a new challenge by kayaking the Little Calumet River Water Trail: East Branch. Launching hand-carried, non-motorized boats from any Indiana Dunes National Park beach is permitted with the exception West Beach's lifeguarded swimming area (Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend). Lake Michigan’s water conditions can quickly change from calm to dangerous, so check the weather forecast and always use a certified personal flotation device.



Canoeing is also popular on the region's rivers, lakes, and waterways. Paddling on Lake Michigan can be especially dangerous due to frequent windy conditions and large waves.

Paddling a Great Lake is much different than any other type of water experience, because Lake Michigan is always changing. You have to be very cautious and concerned about the weather. On a calm July day, with little wind and no waves, a novice might feel comfortable paddling in the lake and hugging the shoreline. But out beyond the buoys, everything changes. Currents are stronger; the water is deeper and colder, and large boats are prowling —like really large boats—ore barges and freight vessels coming into the Port of Indiana. You don’t want to get in their way. Only experienced paddlers are encouraged to navigate longer distances of the Lake Michigan Water Trail. If you want to try it, be prepared. Know the weather forecast, and never paddle without a personal flotation device.


Boating Guidelines

  • Swimmers always have the right of way.
  • The use of watercraft in the designated West Beach swimming area is prohibited.
  • The launching of motorized vessels of any type from lands within the Indiana Dunes National Park is prohibited.
  • With the exception of West Beach's lifeguarded swimming area, the park's beaches are approved for launching non-motorized vessels (canoes, kayaks, sailboats, etc.).
  • Specific to West Beach, non-motorized vessels without a mast (no sailboats or windsurfing) may be launched and recovered. Vessels must stay at least 100 yards away from the West Beach swim area on the beach.
  • All vessels must be non-motorized, single hull design, no longer than 18 feet in length and able to be carried by 1-2 people. Boats must be carried on designated, government provided paths, walkways and stairs. Vessels may not be dragged over any dunes. Loading and unloading may not take place along any roadway. All launching and recovery must be accomplished without the use of motorized equipment or vehicles.


Boating recreation at Indiana Dunes National Park can be fun for everyone, but it is very important to always remember to prepare and practice safety while boating on the lake at all times. To learn more about practicing boat safety, please visit the National Weather Services' Boating Safety Tips and Resources page.

Last updated: November 13, 2023

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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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