National Park Service Proposing First-Ever Entrance Fees for Indiana Dunes National Park

by Jennifer Shea

The National Park Service is seeking public comment on its plans to charge an entrance fee to Indiana Dunes National Park for the first time ever.

The NPS is also looking to charge fees for entrance to six backcountry campsites and a new beachside group campsite, CBS Chicago reports. All the new fees would kick in on March 31 of next year.

The agency will hold a Zoom meeting that is open to the public on the entrance fees next Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m. CST. People can also submit comments by email at [email protected] And they can submit them online here.

The proposed entrance fees are as follows: $15 per person (walk-in/bike-in/boat-in). $20 for motorcycles. $25 for a seven-day vehicle pass. $45 for an annual pass. And $100 for a motorcoach pass.

National Park Service Looking to Offset Uptick in Traffic

Indiana Dunes National Park officials say visitation at the park has gone up sharply the past few years. The new fees would generate funds for maintenance, public safety and other programming efforts.

“The value of public open spaces has been underscored during the COVID pandemic,” Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz said in a statement. “Here at Indiana Dunes National Park, we are looking ahead anticipating what our park needs to tune up existing facilities as well as considering future enhancements and new amenities to better serve our visitors.”

In particular, park officials listed several proposed projects they’d like to undertake. Intelligent transportation technology is one. Another is completing the missing segments of the Marquette Greenway linking Illinois and Michigan.

Fees Would Also Apply to Group, Backcountry Campsites

But the proposed entrance fee is not the only new fee. The National Park Service is also looking to impose fees on a new group campsite in the Dunbar Beach area and on six backcountry campsites. The latter sit about ¼ mile east of the Central Avenue Beach area.

The Dunbar Beach group campsite would cost $100 per night. It accommodates as many as 30 people. Meanwhile, the backcountry campsites would cost $25 per night. They are capped at eight campers.

“Unlike some true backcountry sites, visitors would be required to camp at specific sites at the Central Backcountry,” officials said in a press release. “These wooded camping spots are located on former house sites to reduce the impact to the park’s natural resources. The only services provided are a porta-potty at the Central Backcountry site. And the Dunbar Group Site is within 50 yards of the Dunbar Beach restrooms.”