Are you looking for a new challenge? Do you have what it takes to climb the three highest sand dunes in Indiana?
If so, I invite you to take The 3 Dune Challenge, an all-new initiative spearheaded by Indiana Dunes Tourism.
To complete The 3 Dune Challenge, you must hike a special 1.5 mile course at Indiana Dunes State Park, climbing Mount Jackson (elevation 176 feet), Mount Holden (184 feet) and Mount Tom (192 feet). Some parts of the trail feature 40-degree slopes, making each step that much more, well, challenging. In the sandy vertical climbs, it's common to take two steps forward and slide one step back.
But if you conquer the 3 Dune Challenge, we invite you to stop by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, just a mile south of the state park, to buy a shirt and pick up a free commemorative sticker or decal and postcards.
We know there are many people who have lived in the region for many years and have never hiked the dunes and enjoyed the dramatic views from atop the highest peaks. We also know there are runners, fitness buffs and families who will drive from places like Chicago, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne for the 3 Dune Challenge.
That's why I and the team at Indiana Dunes Tourism — in partnership with the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Friends of Indiana Dunes — created The 3 Dune Challenge.
Just as people drive around with "26.2" stickers on their vehicles to commemorate that they've completed a marathon, we hope to see "3DC" or "I Conquered The 3 Dune Challenge" decals everywhere.
And, most important, when the dune conquerors come to our visitor center, our staff will encourage them to stay for dining, shopping and other entertainment in our communities.
We're excited to give people one more great reason to have fun and spend their money right here in Northwest Indiana. Already, 3 million people visit the dunes each year and experience other attractions while here, like Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Valparaiso's downtown dining and shopping, Bass Pro Shops in Portage, Broken Wagon Bison Farm in rural Porter County and Chesterton's European Market.
In Porter County alone, the travel and tourism industry contributes more than $348 million to Porter County's economy each year — saving each household $1,335 in taxes.
So, grab your friends and family and come do the 3 Dune Challenge when it kicks off May 31.
Just remember to be realistic about your hiking ability. If you get tired, stop for a break or take a shortcut back to the starting point. And there are plenty of other easier trails to enjoy.
To learn more about the 3 Dune Challenge or other nature trails, stop by our visitor center, at 1215 N. Ind. 49 in Porter, visit www.indianadunes.com or call (219) 926-2255.