Autumn 2021 Road Trip (Dazzling Dunes Diversion)

“The winds will blow their own energy to you and the storms their energy while cafes will drop off like autumn leaves.“ (John Muir)

Imagine an ever changing climate condition of over one and a half million years ago on the Northern American continent where a massive ice age enveloped much of Canada and what we now know as the Midwestern U.S. region. These destructive glaciers over time began to melt, creating the five “Great Lakes.” Along one edge of this massive glacial region at what now lies the northern Indiana shoreline of Lake Michigan, this slowly retreating ice sheet under warmer conditions left behind a heavily scarred land of massive boulders, rocky rubble and vast piles of sand. Strong winds and moisture coming off this lake then proceeded to reshape this evolving landscape resulting in towering sand dune formations and dense hardwood forest cover along the shoreline interspersed with wet, marsh like conditions further inland.

So I’ve described for you the geological evolution of a most satisfying place we visited on our fall road trip this week at Indiana Dunes National Park. Know that on so many past occasions that we’ve traveled east on the Interstate 80 corridor out of Chicago, I’ve been unmotivated to visit this park. For it’s been hard for me to fathom how any kind of ecotourism could survive in this location with Gary Indiana’s heavy industry presence and Michigan City’s Nuclear Power Facility operations adjacently nearby.

Yet as a result of our brief chat with a park ranger at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center on this Monday morning, such skepticism quickly disappeared. For we decided then to complete our first time visit to the park by taking a short “Dunes and Lake Driving Tour” and easy walk along the eastern portion of this pristine shoreline today. With over fifteen miles of beach extending along east to west within the park boundary, I anticipated a longer revisit next time to the western shoreline and interior environs of the park. In particular, we’d be most interested in the future to walk the designated boardwalk trails throughout the park in order to enjoy birdlife sightings and bask in the seasonal explosion of tree colors in spring and fall. We’ll also most likely find lodging again in Chesterton, Indiana, a charming village nearby the National Park Visitor Center.

A patio view from our motel room on Chesterton, Indiana
Front View of Indiana Dunes Visitor Center
These two paintings in the Visitor Center captured my interest for touring the park.
A welcome sign at the beginning of our driving tour
Autumn’s explosion of tree colors
On the way to the beach
Futuristic homes from the 1933 World’s Fair along the oceanfront
I enjoy photographing the dune growth along Lake Michigan
Notice that Chicago can be seen in the distance
Our walk to the beach began here
Large dune formation along our walk
Notice the environmental threat of the nuclear reactor in the background
Climbing around the dunes on steep incline
Driving inland, the landscape changed from dense forest to swampy undergrowth

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