Redesignation makes Indiana Dunes the US’s newest national park, ending a fight for recognition lasting 103 years
Wild and rugged – though the link to Spielberg’s similarly-named action hero ends there – Indiana Dunes has been designated America’s newest national park, marking the end of a 103-year-long effort instigated by the US National Park Service’s first director Stephen Mather.
The first national park in the state of Indiana, the area is already popular with tourists and day trippers from Chicago, with more than two million visitors a year exploring the 50 miles of walking trails through one of the country’s most biodiverse protected areas. Covering 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, its vast sand dunes, forests, marshes and prairies are home to over 350 species of bird and 1,100 native plants.
This bid to revive UK roadside stays – by the Soho House chain – offers a smart take on the classic US motel but with swish rooms and quality food
The words “motel and diner” conjure up many images – US highways, neon, palm trees, Edward Hopper, cherry pie and coffee refills – but rarely rural Oxfordshire. Yet here I am, turning off an A road near the pretty village of Buckland at a big red sign for Mollie’s Motel & Diner.
The location is not the only unusual thing about Mollie’s. It may be next to a BP garage but the reception area’s glass cabinets filled with Hershey’s chocolate and popcorn, shelves of design books, objets d’art and plants, and Scandi-style chairs feel a million miles from a petrol forecourt. If I had booked via the app, as the billboards advise, I could have gone straight to the room using my phone as a key. Instead, I wait at check-in behind families with accents as crisp as their shirts, who look like they’ve just popped over from the nearest Cotswolds village.