Your guide to the National Parks in Indiana!
Indiana is an American state in the Midwestern United States. It is 38th in size and is the 17th most populous in 50 United States. Indianapolis takes place as its capital and largest city. Indiana was adopted in the United States as its 19th state on December 11, 1816.
Surrounded by the charming Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, the Ohio River, and Kentucky to the south and southeast, Wabash River and Illinois towards the west direction, Indiana is a land of beauty.
Indiana, known for its love of basketball and producing stars such as Larry Bird and Louie Dampier, has produced the fifth-highest number of professional basketball players in each region.
Indiana has the second-largest automotive industry and leads the US to grow manufacturing activities.
Indiana is popularly referred to as the ‘crossroads of the country.’ It connects many Midwest states. Serving as a perfect destination filled with farmlands and beautiful landscapes like Lake Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois border Indiana.
Indiana National Parks include 42 National Historic Sites, 30 National Natural Heritage Sites, 486 Heritage Recorded Records, and 199,999 items in Indiana National Park Museum collections. There are 230 National Archaeological Areas to visit in Indiana.
Indiana is home to three national Parks; Lincoln Boyhood Countrywide Memorial, George Rogers National Historical Park, and Indiana Dunes Countrywide Park.
The three parks are spread out everywhere in the country, are hugely special, and tell an exceptional story.
So, let’s take a closer look at the national parks in Indiana.
National Parks in Indiana
1. George Rogers Clark, National Historical Park in Indiana
Located in Vincennes, Indiana, on the banks of the Wabash River at what is widely believed to be the site of Fort Sackville, George Clark National Historical Park is the largest monument outside Washington, DC, and consequently one of the most famous Indiana national parks.
President Calvin Coolidge sanctioned a traditional memorial, and president Franklin D. Roosevelt completed the structure in 1936; subsequently, in 1966, Indiana transferred the site under the aegis of the National Park service.
The George Rogers Clark National Memorial is an architectural marvel constructed in 1931 and 1933. Sackville immortalized an eminent accomplishment of the American revolutionary war when George Rogers Clark and his men were captured in 1779.
With its 170 frontiersmen and additional help from the French residents in Illinois, Clark’s army marched collectively through the cold floodwaters to claim their victory.
The fort’s surrender marked the birth of the United States of America, gaining control of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, in the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
Adjoining the memorial is a visitor center that displays comprehensive programs for visitors; the site is located in the Vincennes historic district.
As we enter, the imposing presence of George Rogers Clark is immediately perceived as soon as one lays eyes on Hermon MacNeil’s statue of a soldier and a country, standing still dressed in military uniform.
The bronze statue of young Clark is seven and a half feet tall. The statue and its marble base together weigh 12 tons. Clark was merely 25 when he had the vision of leading his brave frontiersmen into the state of Illinois.
A man of valor, Clark felt that only a strike in the heart of the British colony would lead to the end of the terrible raids undertaken by the Indians on the border areas.
The caption below Clark’s photo reads, “If the country is not worth protecting, it is to worth claiming”
The walls of the memorial rotunda are etched with seven murals depicting Clark’s journey. The murals, which are oil canvas, are 28 feet long and 16 feet high.
Ezra winter and his 6 assistants worked hard for 2 years to bring out these exceptionally beautiful murals like –
- Kentucky: Entering the great valley
- Cahokia: Peace or war with the Indians
- The Wabash: Through wilderness and flood
- Vincennes: The British barrier to the west
- Fort Sackville: Britain yields possession
- Marietta: The Northwest, a new territory
- St. Louis: The way opened to the Pacific
The park offers an insightful window into history’s most remarkable event hence a tour here can also be undertaken for educational purposes. We easily find guided tours here.
George Rogers Clark Nhp offers excellent opportunities to view the flowing Wabash River and learn & understand more about George Rogers Clark’s important campaign from 1778-1779.
Explorations & things to do
The Wayside Exhibitions at Fort Sackville and the Wabash River further furnish us with important details into numerous features of the park.
Various monuments and symbols, such as the Fort Sackville marker and the USS Vincennes monument, allow visitors to explore more of these aspects of the park’s history.
In addition to these self-guided tours, park staff and volunteers are offering live history programs that share life across the American border in what is now Indiana.
These programs often include exhibitions of landmark weapons. Tourists can also visit the visitor center and fish at the Clark national historical park.
2. Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
Indiana Dunes National Park is a national park situated in northwestern Indiana managed by the National Park Service of the United States.
It was accredited by congress in 1966 as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and delegated as the nation’s 61st national park in February 2019. The park extends to around 20 miles along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.
Geography and natural areas
Along the shores of the fifth-largest freshwater lake in the world, you will find Indiana’s most unique natural habitat, the Indiana Dunes.
It is renowned for its alluring sandy beaches, housing the world’s largest coastal dunes, including Mount Baldy, a 125-foot [125 m] ‘living dune,’ formed by glacial sands and sheltered by native vegetation and feral shrubs.
Indiana Dunes is an excellent place to see flocks of migratory birds, dive into the history of the Hoosier, and enjoy an area full of natural splendor.
Large dunes found across the coast have taken thousands of years to build, and some are 700 feet [200 m] above Lake Michigan.
Indiana Dunes National Park is a repository of nature’s invaluable gifts, starting from 15,000 acres of Indiana dunes, oak savannas, swamps, bogs, marshes, sunny prairies, rivers, and tranquil forests.
Further comprises 15 miles of Lake Michigan with a coastline stretching from Gary to Michigan City. Promptly inland from the beach, the dunes reach a height of approx 200 feet in segments of ridges and deep valleys.
The national coastline conserves an imperative remains of an uncommon expanse of ecosystem formed from the retreat of the last great continental glacier some 14,000 years ago.
The park area depicts at least four major consecutive stages in the history of the Lake Michigan coast, making it one of the most comprehensive records of one of the world’s largest cities, freshwater lakes. More than 1,100 flowering plants and ferns make their home here.
From predacious bog plants to native prairie grasses and from high white pine to rare species of algae, the variety of plants thriving here is exceptional. The park is also world-famous for birds; more than 350 species have been identified here.
The place boasts rich geography filled with creeks and dunes, for example, the dunes creek, east arm little calumet river, salt creek, and trail creek.
As for the climatic conditions, Indiana dunes national park possess a continental type climate with hot & humid summers, the crucial feature of the place is lake Michigan, which influences several weather phenomena of the region.
The list is exhaustive, and the experience is startling:
- Beach-going & Swimming
- Bird Watching
- Fishing & Boating
- Historical Sites
- Horseback Riding
- Interpretive Programs (Calendar of Events)
- Winter Activities
- Guided Tours
Enjoy a year-long outing in Indiana Dunes National Park. Each season has a distinct activity available for visitors to engage in the offer. From swimming in the scorching sun in summer to skiing and ice in winter, get ready to enjoy this unique park.
Mountaineering is sought after throughout the year. Vibrant Wildflowers bloom abundantly along the Little Calumet River in April and May, transforming the whole landscape into an idyllic space.
Summer is the most fun time to build sandcastles on over 15 miles of beaches and watch the beautiful sunset of Lake Michigan. Calumet and Porter Brickyard Bike Trails are excellent in late summer and early autumn.
Fall colors can be enjoyed from late September to October, with the highest color occurring in mid-October. Bird watching is fascinating during spring and autumn migrations. Animal tracks often appear after a recent snowstorm. In addition, adventures also opt for its very famous hiking trails.
Camping and fishing are popular ways to relax on the mounds. Night camping is available from April 1 to October 31 at Dunewood Campground. Fishing the Little Calumet River during the steelhead summer run is a real challenge, and the Portage Lakefront fishery provides fishing in the lake.
Be sure on your next trip to stop by the visitor center and get a chance to enjoy nearly 500 guided tours and activities presented to the visitors every year.
Besides, the Indiana Dunes national park is open year-round so that you can visit it at your convenience.
3. Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, National park in Indiana
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, in Southwest Indiana, commemorates the farm home of Lincoln and his life, childhood, adolescence, and his journey with life’s adversities and his subsequent triumph over them.
The boyhood Memorial is a tribute to one of the most important figures of the American revolution, president Abraham Lincoln.
Before moving to Illinois country in 1830, Abraham Lincoln with his family moved from Kentucky to Indiana in 1816. All his learnings about life, the liberation of knowledge, equality, hard work, honesty, and compassion grew in him during this phase of his life. It molded him into a man set to make history in America.
Thus, the place is named Lincoln Boyhood national memorial as the site symbolizes Lincoln’s early life, struggles, growth, and achievements.
The site has an undeviating link to Lincoln’s boyhood. His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, was buried in the vicinity of the Lincoln Boyhood national memorial.
Nancy Hanks Lincoln died on October 5, 1818, and the gravesite serves to commemorate her life and her importance in the life of Abraham lincoln.
His sister Sarah Lincoln Grigsby was buried in the little pigeon baptist church cemetery, across the street at the lincoln state park.
The park constitutes a lincoln living historical farm, while the lincoln boyhood home was renamed a national historic landmark in 1960.
The site manages tourists in thousands annually. For guidance, you can visit the visitor center, which features a 15-minute orientation video or what is commonly called a park film, describing lincoln’s life in Indiana and about the museum and memorial halls.
Limestone ashlar memorial visitor center is the centerpiece of a one-story memorial building, containing 5 sculpted panels depicting different phases of Lincoln’s boyhood.
On a short distance lies the site of the Living Historical Farm, which was discovered through excavation and is now protected & preserved. The living historical farm remains open seasonally, from mid-spring to early fall.
Things to do
Whether you have a free hour or part of a day, there are many daily activities at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Most visitors should expect to spend at least two hours in the park. Short-term visitors have the option of taking a guided tour of the park.
Start Your Experience at the Memorial Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is the start of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial tour. Park staff and volunteers will be at the front desk to greet and guide you to the park.
You would have got a fair idea of Indiana national parks. It’s not an overstatement to say that Indiana has one of the world’s greatest places, from national parks, state parks, historic sites, sandy beaches, the distinguished lincoln city, rugged dunes, and the vibrant southern shore of Lake Michigan. And the list goes on and on.
It is captivating in its natural landscapes historic trail. It is undoubtedly an intersection point for history, nature, ideas, and revolution.
So, on your next visit to Indiana, make sure you visit at least anyone of the national parks in Indiana mentioned above and stand at the intersection of these great realms.