The new Diana of the Dunes Dare follows the West Beach Dune Succession Trail route, honoring the legacy of Indiana Dunes advocate Alice Mabel Gray, a.k.a. “Diana of the Dunes.” Born in Chicago, Alice later abandoned her professional career in the early 1900s to live on her own in the wild of the dunes for more than nine years.
“The story of Alice Mabel Gray is a remarkable one,” says Kimberly Swift, Chief of Education at the Indiana Dunes National Park. “Alice was an intelligent and free-spirited woman who traded her working woman’s life for a more meaningful existence in the Indiana Dunes’ wilderness. By completing the Diana of the Dunes Dare, people will follow in her footsteps and see for themselves why she loved the natural wonders of the dunes.”
Starting from the parking lot, hikers can climb the newly named Diana’s Dune. Count the steps along the way! At the first wayside, you can pause on top of the great staircase and let the breeze surround you as it heightens your senses. At this boundless vantage point, you can choose your view. You can gaze 36 miles into the distance to see the towering might of Chicago, the birthplace of our gallant advocate Alice. You can choose to see the abrupt line of contrast of where industry and nature collide. Or you can turn your regard to the delicate, diverse rolling beauty of the dune succession and its fragility.
At the second wayside, you can get nestled on a bench in the dune swale as you contemplate the dynamic and complex landscape. You may hear the immense roar of the waves to the north or notice the quietness of an interdunal pond just at the foot of the jack pines. If you read the landscape, as Diana did, you can understand its message. The jack pines would have told Diana that she is close to the water. Jack pines are pioneer plants that are one of the first to root at the forefront of the shoreline because they do not like to compete with the mighty inland oak forest to the south. Diana listened, understood, and became harmonic with nature in these very dunes. As a matter of fact, this dune is designated in her honor as Diana’s Dune.
Along the beach to the bathhouse – Listen to the rhythms of the waves and let yourself sync with nature. Feel the sun on your soul and contemplate the many calls of the gulls and hear the singing sands dance along the shoreline. Let the diverse harmony of the dune landscape sculpt your affirmations. Dare to become a positive force in protecting these ecosystems much like Diana did. Vow your pledge of preservation and protection to the social media world by stopping by the selfie station and hashtagging #dianadunesdare.
The Indiana Dunes National Park offers 15,000 acres, 50 miles of trails and 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline to discover. As always, visitors are urged to follow all posted signage for safety. For more information about the Indiana Dunes or the Diana of the Dunes Dare, go to IndianaDunes.com or call 219-926-2255.
Your State Nature Passport is a great tool to give you ideas of places to go, and you can get rewarded for your exploring! Check-in and explore participating locations throughout the state to earn great prizes! The more you visit, the more you win. This program is 100% free, but property entrance fees apply when you visit. Learn More.