Dark, starry night over Lake Michigan

Tom Gill

Night skies have inspired us for generations. Nighttime views and environments are among the critical park features the National Park Service (NPS) protects. Night sky protection enhances qualities of solitude and undeveloped wilderness character that animals depend on for survival, park visitors seek for connections, and many cultural-historical parks require for preservation. In this regard, the NPS recognizes a naturally dark night sky as more than a scenic canvas; it is part of a complex ecosystem that supports both natural and cultural resources.
Starry sky over Lake Michigan with a shooting star. Tree silhouettes stand in front of the sky and a yellow glow comes from Chicagoland

Tom Gill

The night sky is a glittering dome peppered with stars, planets, and passing meteors. For millennia, our ancestors experienced a dark night sky. Cultures around the world told stories about the constellations and used the stars as a calendar. Only for the past few generations have humans been denied the chance to stand in awe of the heavens. Artificial lighting and atmospheric pollutants wash out the light of the stars, making them less visable or completely absent.

Although Indiana Dunes National Park is near urban areas, the lakeshore offers unexpectedly dark skies. Lake Michigan's massive footprint to the north keeps the sky near the lakefront much darker than surrounding areas.

Learn how you can help preserve the Night Sky

Star-studded sky with Milk Way above Lake Michigan with tree silhouettes in the foreground. An orange glow is on the horizon, shifting to green and then blue at the top.

Rafi Wilkinson

Where to Enjoy

Visitors can best view stars and the Milky Way on a clear night and moonless nights. While stars can be seen all along the shore, light pollution from surrounding communities does impact Indiana Dunes' night skies—so some areas of the park are darker than others.

Kemil Beach

Kemil Beach and parking lot is open 24 hours a day to allow for experiencing night at Indiana Dunes. It is located between Indiana Dunes State Park and Beverly Shores, the 7th designated Interntional Dark Sky Community in the world.

Things to Remember

  • Overnight camping is not allowed along roadsides or in parking lots.

  • Only Kemil Beach parking lot is 24/7. Porter Beach and West Beach close at 9:00 PM CST while all other parking lots close at 11:00 PM CST.

  • Pets must be leashed at all times

  • Watch your step in the darkness (use a red light flashlight or headlamp; wear closed-toed shoes).

Etching circa 1910 by Earl H. Reed depicting a wetland scene where the moon is reflecting in water, surrounded by tree silhouettes with a bat flying by.
Historic etching by early Dunes artist Earl H. Reed.

Earl H. Reed, Art Institute Chicago

Tips for Stargazing

Use Red Lights Only

Do not use bright white flashlights, headlamps, or cell phones. It takes 20-30 minutes for the human eye to fully adjust to very low light conditions. Bright lights delay this process. You can turn a regular flashlight into a red light by covering it with red cellophane, tape, fabric, paper, or similar materials.

Layer Up

Temperatures drop quickly in the evening. Bring extra layers of warm clothing.

Bring a Chair

You may be on your feet and looking up for long periods of time. A lightweight folding chair will help keep each person in your group comfortable and reduce strain. Do no trample vegetation.

Watch Your Step

Plants, nocturnal animals, and uneven surfaces may be difficult to see at night. Use a red light to check your viewing are for hazards.

Avoid the Moon

Bright moonlight reduces the number of stars you'll see. Check the moon's phase and rise and set times to find the best time to stargaze.


Last updated: September 11, 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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