The country’s 61st national park, and Indiana’s first, the area was previously known as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and park staff are overjoyed at the new designation. The park’s official twitter account announced the news on February 15, along with a photo of staff members proudly standing beside a homemade park sign.
Amy Howell, director of communications for Visit Indiana, told CNN Travel, “This is a big recognition. It will put Indiana on the map more than it already is, for people who don’t know where it is.” Howell hopes the park will draw more visitors to Indiana Dunes and encourage them to explore the surrounding area as well. “It has more plant and animal species than Hawaii,” she said, “and I don’t think people realize that’s in Indiana.”