As the weather warms, folks are beginning to return to the shores and waters
of Lake Michigan to recreate.
Which means it’s a good time to remind everyone that conditions on Lake
Michigan can change quickly from calm and inviting to rough and dangerous
with little or no warming.
“Beachgoers should remember that north winds create dangerous conditions.”
the National Park Service (NPS) said in a statement released last week.
“Steep, uneven waves have quickly overcome even the most experienced
swimmers. People are easily knocked off of sandbars into deeper water. High
waves are the No. 1 cause of drowning in the park. Breaking waves and
whitecaps on the lake are an indication that it is too dangerous to swim.
Wave conditions of over three feet are the leading cause of drowning along
the beach. Do not become a statistic, when the waves are crashing on the
beach, stay on the beach.”
“Each summer, many children become lost on the beach,” NPS said. “Small
children can easily succumb to the dangers of the lake, even on calm days.
Parents should keep children within arm’s length at all times. The use of U.
S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation devices is always a good idea.”
This summer, NPS rangers will be patrolling Lake Michigan, watching for
unsafe and unlawful boating. Operating a boat in an unsafe manner or while
under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts everyone on the lake in danger.
Persons operating a boat under the influence are subject to arrest, fines
and jail time.
All boaters are responsible for being familiar with all applicable
regulations and safe boating practices. A good place to start is by visiting
if you have questions about ensuring your vessel is safe. The public is
advised to read and understand buoys and markers deployed in the lake.
NPS has regulations pertaining to safe boating within the Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore. The boundary of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore extends
300 feet into Lake Michigan and includes the areas in front of the towns of
Beverly Shores, Porter, Dune Acres, and Ogden Dunes. Powerboats may not be
launched from the beach, but they may stop and anchor outside of buoyed
areas. Hand-powered boats (kayaks and canoes) may be launched and recovered
from any beach except the swim area at West Beach. Boats and other items
left after dark are subject to removal.
While personal watercraft (jet skis, waverunners, etc.) are legal to operate
on Lake Michigan, their operation within the National Lakeshore is a
violation of federal law. For more information about park regulations and
maps of the National Lakeshore, please visit