PORTER, Indiana (WLNS/MLive) – This summer, with a brand-new name and freshly minted national park status, Indiana Dunes National Park recorded its highest visitor tally yet.
Though the park has long been popular in the summer months, the new name and status have put it on the map for more people. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center counted 131,662 visitors in the first eight months of 2019, breaking the park’s all-time annual record.
The park saw more than 42,000 visitors in July alone, more than doubling totals from the same period last year, according to our media partners at MLive.
Formerly known as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the 15,000-acre park along Lake Michigan’s southern shore was given national-park designation in February, making it the nation’s 61st national park. It encompasses 15 miles of shoreline and most notably is home to rolling, rugged sand dunes — some that stand nearly 200 feet tall. It is the first national park in Indiana.
The National Park Service reported that in March — the month following the name change — the park saw some of its best tourist totals in decades.
Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz said visitor numbers have been “over the top” since the new designation, according to the Associated Press,
“Now it’s a national park, and so it must be spectacular, right?” Labovitz said. “It’s always been spectacular, but the name seems to resonate. And frankly, we’ll take it.”