Driving from Oak Park, 10 miles west of Chicago, we spent less than $50 on the trip, including tolls, Park entry fee($10) and miscellaneous expenses including gas, food, drinks etc.
We drove to the dunes, but taking a train is also an option with the Southshore line train service between Chicago and the dunes. The ticket costs just $6.80 one way.
Climbing the dunes should be fun in the morning. It can get arduous in the afternoon heat.
Take ample food (& water) with you (unless you are a herbivorous mammal). The abundance of green vegetation and sand is contrasted by lack of food joints. The only food joint in the State Park is a snack bar on the 2nd floor of the bath-house/pavilion. It's a fast food place serving burgers, fries, hot-dogs and the like. If you are ravenously hungry, or vying for a more satisfactory meal before you hop on to one of the long trails, better carry food/water along with you.
Eat before you start hiking
Once you start walking along the trails (some of which are 3-5 miles long), you will find no sight of any drinking water, or a place to sit and chat/eat. Why? Read on...
Take cash with you
The camp store and the foood court in the bath-house, accept ONLY cash payments. If you are not carrying your own food and plan to eat at either of these places, you will need cash. Also, it's a good idea to pay the entrance fee by cash.
Map & directions
Hoards of people on the beach, picnic areas and campground, the trails are almost deserted. We wonder if the reason is lack of good maps and/or directions to the trails. Here is a
map of Indiana Dunes State Park
that we found in the gift shop.
Carry handwash and/or hand sanitizer, and possibly a roll of tissues. We found only one restroom in our entire trip that had all the necessities- tissues, water, soap(and yes, lock as well). This decent restroom is the one near the camp site, not very far from the bath- house.
This is a cute little store next to the camp site, not very far from the picnic site. The store mainly provides campers with things they forgot to bring along from home and/or some emergency supplies. You can get ice, hot coffee and other beverages in this store.
They are the reason why you cannot sit/chat/eat anywhere along the trail. The trails themselves are pleasant and one appreciates the proximity to nature. However, the paths follow creek & swamps for the most part. Though not so many as to make the walk impossible, you will still be distracted by these "pricksters" all along the way, making the hike a little less pleasant than it should be. If you do not want to be distracted, use a mosquito repellent. Yeah, the hand sanitizer can be useful if you happen to squat a few of these blood-suckers devouring on your neck.
Some of the steepest dunes of Indiana Dunes can be found in Mt. Baldy. If you are in a mood for watching a beautiful sunset yonder the lake, no better place than Mt. Baldy. Here is our take on the sunset from Mt. Baldy Summit
Beaches, dunes, hiking and biking trails, jungle, the place has a lot of things to do and see. We covered just as much we could in one day, will surely go back! Tell us about your experience with the dunes!