Located along the southern edge of Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes is the United States’ newest National Park. Formerly Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Park contains some of the most abundant plant diversity in the United States.

a wild lupine meadow

The Park is only about one hour from Chicago, but its niche habitat in an otherwise busy world makes it all the more special. Fifteen miles of Lake Michigan’s shoreline, and 15000 acres overall, comprise the Park’s area.

Essentially, the Park comprises of sets of sand dunes— some of which are thousands of years old. Plant succession (the process of an ecosystem’s community changing overtime) has set the stage for multiple types of habitat built on top of these dunes.

notice the different layers of sand and soil— and the roots between the layers holding things together

From oak savannahs to wetlands to strict sand dunes themselves, there is an abundance of different habitats found within the Park. Due to the unique landscape and history, the science of ecology owes a lot to the area, as the dunes themselves serve as a founding place in the field of plant succession.

For more information about the Park, you can visit its website here.

To learn more about ecological succession, you can visit this page from Penn State University.

All photos by me.

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