My youngest and I love to camp, usually just in the back of my car to make it easier, and lately we’ve been picking random places to visit and combining them with an overnight camp. This past weekend we headed to Elkhart, IN, to visit the RV Hall of Fame and Museum. While we both enjoy tent camping (when we’re not sleeping in the back of the car), we’re both also big fans of RVs. We’ve done some RV camping in conjunction with The North Face Endurance Challenge Series in Wisconsin, so we know the benefits and drawbacks.
One of the things we also try to do is to have a back-up plan, in case our mood changes or things don’t go as planned. While we’ve visited the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore several times, we’ve never taken the time to truly explore it. So, our plan was that, if we didn’t feel like driving to the Museum, we’d hang out at the Dunes and earn the Little Worker a Junior Ranger Badge. That program is a great way to learn about the individual state and national parks.
At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, there are 2 campgrounds, 1 for the National Park and 1 for the complementary State Park. The State Park campground is closer to the lake, has electricity, and takes reservations, while the National Park campground is pretty much the opposite. Guess which one fills up faster? The State Park. Either one was fine for us, so after the ranger at the Visitor Center told us the State Park was full up, we drove over to the one run by the National Parks, Dunewood Campground.
Funny enough, it felt practically empty, kind of surprising on the last weekend it was open for the year, and on a beautiful day. Rain was forecast overnight, so maybe that kept some people away, but we didn’t care and were happy to have our pick of the litter pretty much.
The campground has 66 campsites across 2 loops: 53 conventional drive-in sites; 13 walk-in sites (wheelchair accessible sites are 15, 30, 41, and 55). Each loop is centered by a toilet and shower structure; kind of unique in my experience, the showers are individual rooms outside of the bathrooms, so they are open to all, rather than being segregated by sex. A lot more useful, in my opinion. There was also a large wash-up sink to clean dishes, a really nice touch. Everything was very clean and modern feeling, quite a departure from some of the facilities we’ve had to use over the years. An amphitheater is the only amenity (besides the RV dump station), which is kind of nice in this over developed world, in my opinion.
The Douglas Loop has sites for tents or RVs, as well as walking sites for a more primitive experience. We chose a site with only one neighbor (well-screened by a hill and vegetation), that was also convenient to the bathrooms and water. For the most part, the sites felt pretty private, some more than others, so the campground accommodates both people who want a little more seclusion and those that don’t mind meeting their neighbors (or have a group spread across multiple sites).
Within walking distance of the campground are a convenience store and competing pizza food trucks, so if you’re not up for cooking dinner, plenty of options are available.
By opting for the Dunewood Campground, you’re foregoing reservations and electricity, along with better access to Lake Michigan, but the simplicity and beauty of this wooded campground more than make up for it.
Dunewood Campground is located about an hour to an hour and a half outside of Chicago: