The Indiana Insider Blog

Patoka Lake Marina – Great Fall Trip!

Patoka Lake Floating Cabins – Better to Stay on the Shore than Along the Shore

When Douglas Karr sent a message on Twitter asking who would want to stay in a floating cabin at Patoka Lake Marina (@PatokaLake on Twitter) the following Saturday and write a review about the experience, my head was saying, “I’m going to be asleep this weekend.” It was midnight Wednesday. I was more or less asleep in an Orlando, FL suite, preparing to take a quick nap before working the final day of a hectic business convention.

Luckily, my instincts answered his tweet.

Still half-asleep from a week on the road, I started out early Saturday morning on the four hour road trip south through the rain from my Duneland home in Valparaiso to Birdseye, IN. And even though taking Interstate 65 South to Interstate 64 West is quickest for most people in the state, I suggest the picturesque route through the Hoosier National Forest (Google Maps link) via classic towns such as Paoli and French Lick.

Living most of my life near Lake Michigan, it takes a bit for me to be impressed by what others call a lake. That being said, I’ll admit I appreciated my first glimpses of the crafted lake.

The entrance into Lake Patoka is followed by long, hilly, windy roads which helped me feel immersed into the wooded wonderland and detached from reality. I got to the Lake Patoka Marina just in time to catch the 2pm Fall Foliage boat tour. Not only did the two-hour sightseeing ride give me unfettered views of the majestic lake, its 126 miles of shoreline, and its spirited wildlife, but the tour also came with a quick history of how Lake Patoka came to be.

A project with its roots dating back to the 1940s, Lake Patoka was designed by the US Army Corp of Engineers as a flood control measure and only begun to be filled in 1980. Covering the parts of the counties of Crawford, Dubois, and Orange, Lake Patoka peaks out at around 9,000 acres of water in the summer. 17,000 acres of nature preserves surround the lake. Over 220 slips are available for boats including water power boats and house boat with spots near the marina to anchor sail boats. There are 11 spots along the lake where fishermen and boaters can put in their crafts. Vast spaces for traditional and modern campgrounds are available. Long biking and hiking trails can be found crisscrossing the grounds. Permit hunting, picnic grounds, a modest beach with breathtaking views, an annual pro-am Disc Golf tournament, and a professional bass tournament help compliment the regularly scheduled events which compose the Lake Patoka experience.

Are There Cabins Along the Lake for Rent?

The question most people have is, “are there cabins along the lake for rent?” Since the lake was designed by the US Army Corps of Engineer, nobody is allowed to build near the lake. But they are allowed to dock along its shores – Which is how the ingenious idea of floating cabins came into existence.

Right now there are 7 floating cabins with plans for more. The floating cabins are designed with the dining room and kitchen towards the shore and a split level for bedrooms the point towards the center of the lake. Well-equipped with amenities, the cabins come with electricity, modern appliances, water and sewage, and flat panel TVs with HD antennas. My favorite part of the cabins is that they are docked in wide slips which double as wrap-around decks right along the water. With nice outdoor seats, a picnic table, and a gas grill, sitting along the dock of the lake as the sun went down was one of my favorite treats of 2009.

Things to Do Around Lake Patoka

For those who need a night back in reality during their stay, the New French Lick Resort and Casino is 15 minutes away and Louisville is 45 minutes down the road. There are also many charming eateries and shops because, oh yeah, you’re on the edge of the Hoosier National Forest.

Sping to Fall

Patoka Lake will be re-opened in the Spring of 2010. I hope I’m invited back to see the place as it starts its year. Otherwise, I might sneak down unannounced. I need to sit in that chair along the water, again.

If you get a spare weekend and want to find a beautiful place to take a clean breath of air, take a look at Patoka Lake just outside Birdseye, Indiana.

I thank Indiana Office of Tourism Development‘s @VisitIndiana, Douglas Karr, as well as Harvey Edwards from Patoka Lake Marina (@PatokaLake on Twitter) for the opportunity to try on Lake Patoka for an evening. It was a rejuvenating experience I’ll never forget and I look forward towards my next excuse to sneak down.

portfolio-shot-best.jpg (Small)Nat Finn is a Chicago-area Social Media Hunter / Gatherer / Copywriter from Valparaiso, IN. A reformed athlete, Finn now maintains his blog “How to Publish a Book of Blues. Hopefully.” ( as well as other sites when he’s not working his 9-5.

Tagged as:

, ,

Written by : While we have many regular contributors on the Indiana Insider Blog, from time to time we will feature posts written by other authors. Today's post was written by one of our Indiana Insider Guest Bloggers.