Mount Baldy (sand dune)

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Mount Baldy
Indiana dunes.jpg
View of the dune
Map showing the location of Mount Baldy
Map showing the location of Mount Baldy
Location of Mount Baldy in Indiana
Coordinates 41°42′32″N 86°55′41″W / 41.7089°N 86.9281°W / 41.7089; -86.9281Coordinates: 41°42′32″N 86°55′41″W / 41.7089°N 86.9281°W / 41.7089; -86.9281
Range 41°42'33"N 86°55'47"W
Elevation 126 feet (38 m)
Age Holocene

Mount Baldy is a sand dune located in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It is on the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is 126 feet tall. It is a wandering dune that moves or shifts every year, and is called a "living dune."

Mount Baldy is accessible from U.S. Route 12 (also known as Dunes Highway) between the town of Pines and the western border of Michigan City, Indiana. It is a tourist attraction locally and regionally, drawing weekend and summer visitors from Chicago. Prior to the dune's closure, on a clear day one could see Chicago's skyline from its top. North of Mount Baldy is a swimmable beach which is also part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.


Due to its popularity with visitors, the marram grass which had stabilized the dune was largely destroyed, and the dune has begun advancing southwards, threatening to overrun its parking lot. Accordingly, the National Park Service has rerouted trails and planted grass in hopes of slowing the dune.


In 2013, unexpected sinkholes, later called anomalies, began appearing in the sand, one of which swallowed a small child. It took three hours for the boy to be rescued from the 11-foot (3.4 m) pit. The geological process that is producing the sinkhole anomalies is under study, but appears to be related to the burial and decomposition of fungus-ridden black oak trees.[1] In 2016, scientists concluded that such sinkholes or anomalies in the moving or living dune are caused by the burial of trees that eventually decay leaving a hollowed out shaft beneath unsteady ground, named a "dune decomposition chimney." The dune remains closed to visitors except with very limited ranger tours, until perhaps 2017.[2][3]