Century-long efforts to turn the beaches of northwestern Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline (yeah, beaches in Indiana) into a national park have been realized. The brand new Indiana Dunes NP boasts 15,000 acres home to more than 1,100 native plant species, 50 miles of hiking trails, pine forests, rare prairies, cross-country ski trails, equestrian trails, plenty of kayaking, birdwatching, you name it. Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, was pushing for national park status for the area back in 1916. It’s already a well-visited area and has been a national lakeshore since 1966 when it fell under protection after being slated for a huge shipping port. The NPS charmingly announced the designation on their twitter page recently with a simple handwritten cardboard sign.

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