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Indiana Dunes considers its first-ever entrance fees

The proposed entrance fees include $15 per person for people walking, bicycling or boating into the park, or $20 for motorcyclists.

CHESTERTON, Ind. — A lot of families cool off in the summer by heading to beaches at the Indiana Dunes. But soon, families may have to pay to get into the park.

The National Park Service wants to start charging entrance fees for the first time at Indiana Dunes National Park. 

The park is seeking the public's input on charging both entrance fees and camping fees. 

They say they've had a dramatic increase in visitors and need more money to address the park's maintenance backlog and public safety concerns.

"The value of public open spaces was underscored during the COVID pandemic," said superintendent Paul Labovitz. "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."

The money made from the fees would also provide funding for visitor service-related projects that the park says will "enhance the overall visitor experience."

Labovitz said some changes on the horizon include intelligent transportation technology to provide visitors with trip-planning tools, including real-time parking availability at many or all of the national park's parking lots. 

He also said the park would like to partner in completing the missing segments of the Marquette Greenway Trail that will connect Michigan and Illinois via a multi-use trail. 

The proposed entrance fees are being determined by the type of park. The National Park Service established an entrance fee structure in 2006.

Based on the National Park Service's structure, entrance fees would be: 

  • $25 per private vehicle including passengers. 
  • $20 per motorcycle including passengers.
  • $15 for each person who walks, bikes or boats to the park.  
  • $45.00 for an annual park entrance pass.  

If approved, those fees would start next year. Anyone wanting to comment on the proposed entrance fees can do so during an online public meeting that will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, Aug. 18, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET. 

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