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Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Park

Top 3 National Parks To Visit in Indiana (2022)

The beautiful state of Indiana might be on top of the most preferred travel and tourism destinations, but it is one of the hidden gems of the United States that one must explore. Popularly known as The Hoosier State, Indiana is home to an abundance of nature, which means it has miles and miles of lush green area dedicated to many state and national parks. There are many mesmerizing rivers, charming green forests and woodlands, and an abundance of historically important sites that the state is home to.

There is something for everyone in Indiana, and there is no shortage of unique landscapes and landmarks to explore. Many people are surprised to learn that the state is sometimes also known as the Crossroads of America, owing to the melting pot of cultures, traditions, and attractions you find here.

Indiana is home to three national parks that attract over two million visitors every year. These parks together are estimated to generate around $115 million in revenues every year.

Top 3 National Parks To Visit in Indiana

Here is a complete guide on the top 3 national parks in Indiana that you must visit.

1. Indiana Dunes National Park

Perhaps the most famous national park in the entire Midwest of the US is the Indiana Dunes National Park. This is a beautiful national park that includes nearly 15 miles of the stunning southern shore of Lake Michigan, and there is so much to do here that if you want to complete everything, it will probably take you over a week’s worth of time. From flying a kite along the beach to searching for some rare species of birds, there are over 15,000 acres of space in the park to ensure you can do whatever your heart desires. This translates into 15,000 acres of rugged dunes, meandering rivers, lush green forests, wildlife-filled wetlands, golden sandy beaches, and picture-perfect prairies, there is something for everyone at the Indiana Dunes National Park.

The Indiana Dunes National Park is located in northern Indiana, just 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the city of Chicago, making it a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city to spend a weekend hiking, swimming, lazing around on the beach, or just relaxing amidst nature.

There are many things to do at the Indiana Dunes National Park. The first thing many visitors like to do is to enjoy the many beaches that the park is home to. There are 15 miles of shoreline on the southern edge of Lake Michigan located inside the park, and this means that you will be able to find an empty spot for yourself or enjoy amongst the crowd as your heart desires. One of the most popular beaches here is the West Beach, and on a hot summer’s day, you will find it challenging to find a place for yourself as many locals come here to enjoy the day. The vast expanse of golden sand, public restrooms, concession stands, and a lifeguard on duty have made this a famous beach.

If you are not a beach person, you can think about hiking around the park to explore it up close. The Indiana Dunes National Park has over 50 miles of trails that are worth exploring. The presence of many loop trails and junctions has made it easy, even for the most newbie hiker, to pick a trail and not get lost. Hikes in the park range from 20 to 30 minutes, with some of the challenging ones offering all day treks.

You can also spend time checking out the many wildlife on the hike. If you are a bird lover, head out to the Heron Rookery Trail, which is home to a wide variety of birds. This is one of the most scenic trails, especially in spring when the trail gets taken over by a riot of colors from the many wildflowers blooming on the forest floor.

Another trail that you must check out if you have time is the Glenwood Dunes Trail, which will take you to two ancient dune ridges. The trail takes you through a beautiful forest path, and you will find yourself enjoying the view at every turn and corner.

You can also explore these trails on a bike, which is available for rent at the park. If you are looking for a challenging trail, you can try out the Prairie Duneland Rail Trail or the Oak Savanah Rail Trail.

You can also indulge in boating, kayaking, powerboating, and sailing on Lake Michigan. In the winter, cross-country skiing is a popular activity at the park, and the trails get busy with many visitors coming to enjoy winter sports here. For those who want to spend the night at this beautiful national park, overnight camping remains open from April 1 to October 31.

2. George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

The George Rogers Clark National Historical Park is another very famous national park in the Midwest region, owing to it being the site of one of the greatest achievements of the American Revolution. This is a national park that is rich in history, unique attractions, and many exciting stories. When you visit the park, you will get to learn many details about the famous George Roger Clark and his march from Kaskaskia to Vincennes (which is today the site of this historical park). The tales tell of how Clark and his men claimed victory over Fort Sackville and other nearby territories, which went on to ultimately become the states of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin that we know today.

This famous journey took Clark 18 days to complete in February 1779 during a bitterly cold winter month. There were 170 American and French men who made this journey along with Clark to reach Fort Sackville.

Today, this historical park is named after Clark. The George Rogers Clark National Historical Park is sprawled out over 9.8 hectares (24.3 acres) and is home to an impressive monument to Clark, many smaller statues, and a Visitor Center where you can find out all about this remarkable feat. The park is located along the beautiful Wabash River in the southwestern part of Indiana.

However, unlike the Indiana Dunes National Park, there is not much to do here apart from checking out the monuments and statues. Nevertheless, before indulging in any activities, you should begin the trip by visiting the Visitor Center, where you can find out about the story of George Rogers Clark and his men and the military campaign they undertook. This is a half an hour movie that is shown here detailing the entire story. There is also a separate exhibit area at the Visitor Center, and the staff is well equipped to answer all your queries.

From the Visitor Center, take a short walk to reach the biggest national monument located outside of Washington DC in the US, which is the George Rogers Clark Memorial. As you come closer to the monument, you will see 16 majestic granite columns standing around in a circle with a bronze statue of Clark inside. The memorial also has seven murals that showcase the story of the entire expedition. There are many other statues also in the park that honor the brave men of the war.

3. Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Park

The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Park is another historically important national park in Indiana. Spread over 200 acres, the park is also known as the Lincoln Living Historical Farm. Located in Lincoln City, the park preserves the farm site where Abraham Lincoln grew up. He lived here from the age of 7 years till he turned 21. The park remains open throughout the year, and some of the highlights include the Lincoln living historical farm, a visit to Abraham Lincoln’s mother Nancy Lincoln’s grave, and numerous hiking trails.

If you are a history buff, this is the perfect place to visit to learn more about the life of Abraham Lincoln, one of the most famous presidents of the United States. You get to see the place where he spent the majority of his childhood and reached adulthood. Start your visit by visiting the Visitor Center, where you can see the park video on Lincoln’s early life. Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, was also a famous figure in the history of America, and her grave is located at the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Gravesite in the Pioneer Cemetery inside the park. As you reach the Visitor Center, you will find five panels sculpted by famous artist E. H. Daniels that depict Lincoln’s life. The panels were chiseled with Indiana limestone.

The reason why Lincoln’s farm is known as the Lincoln Living Historical Farm is that it is still a working farm today. You can find crops being grown, cattle being managed, and many more things that go on a real farm happening here. Children find it an absolute joy to visit here to check out the many farm animals that live here. In fact, the park rangers who work at the work carry out the chores dressed in clothing from the 1820s era to complete the look and feel of the place. The farm remains open from mid-April to mid-September, but it may close earlier if the weather is bad.

Of course, the main focus at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Park is the living historical farm, but you can also enjoy other activities here. You can check out Lincoln Spring, where the Lincoln family used to get their fresh water from. The park is also home to over two miles of hiking trails, the most popular one being the Boyhood Trail that connects the Living Historical Farm to the Pioneer Cemetery.

The second trail is the Trail of Twelve Stones, which loops back again to the Pioneer Cemetery and makes a wonderful short walk of about a mile.

The park slows down significantly in the winter months, but it still remains open, and you can visit it to see how the winter frost brings out a different, beautiful charm to the entire park. The park is a sight to behold no matter what the season.

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