Saturday, November 28, 2020

Indiana Dunes National Park

Three new National Parks in one road trip was pretty good.  But the more I looked at the map, the more I realized I could squeeze in more.  So after a brief dip a few hours south after putting Cuyahoga Valley in my rear view mirror, I headed back north and a bit west to spend an afternoon at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Purple Loosestrife, Indiana Dunes National Park
Visit a national park on a Saturday and you're bound to run into crowds.  I struggled to find parking and had to revise and re-revise my plans a few times.  Eventually I just pulled into a neighborhood, found an arguably legal spot near what was arguably a trailhead into the Ogden Dunes area, and set off.

First photo opportunity was this Purple Loosestrife on the edge of a pond.

Indiana Dunes National Park
And speaking of the edge of a pond, it seemed that whomever built this little platform misjudged where precisely that edge would be during rainy season.

Indiana Dunes National Park
I didn't take the opportunity to rest on the bench, but I did think the scene was worth a portrait snap along with the landscape one.

Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Park
The park was previously a National Lakeshore, and I'm always impressed by lakes that are so big you can't see the other side.  In that regard, Lake Michigan qualifies.

Large Milkweed Bugs, Indiana Dunes National Park
Some days, Large Milkweed Bugs are the best wildlife sighting you have.  This seemed like it was going to be that kind of day.

Butterfly Milkweed, Indiana Dunes National Park
Next stop was the Tolleston Dunes Trail for a proper hike.  Weather conditions had grown overcast, which was sort of ideal for shooting wildflowers like this Butterfly Milkweed.

Tolleston Dunes Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park
The trail runs through some beautiful -- and globally rare -- black oak savanna.

Pinewood Bracken, Indiana Dunes National Park
This turning Pinewood Bracken stood out from all the surrounding greenery.

Red-spotted Admiral, Indiana Dunes National Park
I really wanted this Red-spotted Admiral to face me, but I'm not disappointed with the shot I got.

Common Milkweed, Indiana Dunes National Park
The Great Marsh Trail was next up, where Common Milkweed was plentiful.

Great Marsh Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park
The marsh seemed straight out of a textbook, lush and chaotic with life and death in equal abundance.

Buttonbush, Indiana Dunes National Park
Buttonbush doing its best coronavirus imitation.

Great Marsh Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park
Have I mentioned yet just how marshy the marsh is?  It's legitimately a cliche.

Mount Baldy, Indiana Dunes National Park
Final stop: Mount Baldy -- a sand dune that's literally taking over its neighboring parking lot.

Mount Baldy, Indiana Dunes National Park
Visitors aren't allowed to hike the dune unaccompanied.  And I decided to abide by the restriction and take my pictures from the base.

Mount Baldy, Indiana Dunes National Park
This bit of ecological succession is something I don't often get to see.  It has a unique beauty, like most natural processes.

A whirlwind tour to be sure, and the parking situation was a persistent nuisance, but I'm definitely glad I made the time to visit!