Indiana Dunes National Park Now Requires Entrance Fee: Here’s How Much It Costs to Walk, Bike, Boat, or Enter Via Motorcycle

by Leanne Stahulak

As of yesterday, Thursday, March 31, visitors to the Indiana Dunes National Park will be required to pay an entrance fee. The national park used to be free to the public.

But last summer, the National Park Service (NPS) proposed that the Indiana Dunes National Park start charging entrance fees. The profit from the fees will stay within the park and be used to fund multiple projects. Per the NPS website, these projects include updating and improving parking information, funding the Marquette Greenway Bike Trail, and helping visitors services.

Funding these projects is especially necessary thanks to more visitors coming to the park. Back in February 2019, around 1.7 million people visited when it was still Indiana Dunes State Park. Since it became a national park, those numbers have shot up to 3 million visitors, even during the pandemic.

The fee you pay when you enter Indiana Dunes National Park varies depending on how you enter. Walking, biking or boating into the park costs $15 per person. But only a maximum of $25 per family. Entering by motorcycle costs $20. And you can purchase a vehicle pass for $25. All of these fees cover visits within one to seven days of purchasing. So if you have an extended weekend or vacation planned, you don’t have to pay every day you visit.

Frequent visitors or locals can grab an annual pass for $45. Mini busses and vans cost $40. And the commercial fee for a Motor Coach (large bus) is $100.

If you’d like to visit Indiana Dunes State Park, not the national park, make sure you enter via State Road 49, at the northern terminus. Per WRTV, the new fees for the national park do not affect the fees for the state park. For the state park, you still pay an entrance fee per car ($7 for Indiana plates, $12 for out-of-state plates).

Indiana Dunes National Park Officials Talk New Entrance Fee

Leading up to the implementation of entrance fees, Indiana Dunes National Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz spoke in a statement about the changes.

“This is a positive step to keep the park accessible, safe and vibrant for all while allowing us to grow and meet the increased needs of our visitors,” Labovitz said. “Out of town guests expect a fee at most places they visit and everyone can obtain an annual pass for what might be the best bargain in town. Stepping up our maintenance and public safety is needed as well as expanding our role in bringing new amenities forward. Thank you in advance for your support.”

Earlier, Lavobitz also commented on the need for outdoor spaces after the COVID pandemic

“The value of public open spaces has been underscored during the COVID pandemic,” Labovitz said. “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.”

Make sure you grab your pass to visit the park here.