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Walk off Thanksgiving Calories at Indiana Dunes Parks |

Individuals, couples, and families looking for an alternative to shopping the day after Thanksgiving can “go outside” at Indiana Dunes.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is waiving entrance fees at all DNR facilities, including Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Friday.

Additionally, State Park visitors who upload photos of their Black Friday adventure to social media sites, check in using the DNR’s Nature Pass app, or participate in a scavenger hunt are eligible for prizes including State Park annual passes, guided tours and gift certificates for camping and inn stays.

Controlled burn in Indiana Dunes National Park

“Having the opportunity to spend time outdoors at any of your DNR properties any time of the year makes you a winner, but we’re happy to waive the entry fee and offer these great prizes that will enhance your outdoor experience if you choose to decide outside on Black Friday,” said DNR director Dan Bortner.

At Indiana Dunes State Park, a naturalist is scheduled to lead a moderate-level two-mile hike from the Nature Center to the Beach House Blowout and back, starting at 10 a.m. Friday.

No registration is required for the hike. Those with questions about the hike can contact the Nature Center at 219-926-1390 or search “Opt Outside” at

A separate expert-led hike is scheduled for Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at nearby Indiana Dunes National Park in Portage.

This hike starts at West Beach and is up to 3.5 miles, with easy turns back to the parking lot for 1 or 2 mile hikes. The hike is moderate, with 270 steps and some loose sand sections.

During the walk, co-sponsored by Save the Dunes, regional experts in birdwatching, botany, insects, geology and ecology will highlight and explain the natural features along the way.

“Wow man. What a scene. You can’t imagine what we’re seeing out here on any given day,” said Hobart Patrol Officer Tommie Tatum.

For more information about the afternoon hike, call Indiana Dunes National Park at 219-395-1882 or visit the park’s website at

Admission to the national park is $25 per car for a one to seven day pass. A $45 annual pass is also available. Entrance fees can be paid at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center or online.