One of the best investments my family has made is a $36 drop in the bucket for an annual state park pass. While we fortunate to have several gorgeous state parks within an hour drive of our house, I’m willing to bet just about everyone in the state has a park within a reasonable drive. (The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a handy map if you’re curious.)
Camping at Indiana State Parks
My family typically visits state parks for two reasons, camping being our favorite. We’ve camped at many of Indiana’s state parks, and we’re always impressed with the cleanliness, service and quality of the campsites themselves. If you’re looking for recommendations, some of our favorite spots are McCormick’s Creek, where the sites are deep within the trees so you feel as though you’re sleeping in a forest; Monroe Lake, where several of the tent sites are right along the water; and O’Bannon Woods.
Hiking at Indiana State Parks
We also love to hike. Indiana has some gorgeous landscapes and you’ll find them particularly stunning along countless trails across the state. (I always think a beautiful view is even more special when you’ve worked hard to get there.) You’ll find well-maintained and well-marked trails. Be sure to pick up a brochure at the gate to each park. These brochures will outline the difficulty level of each trail, which is always helpful to know in advance. Our favorite parks for hiking include Brown County State Park, Shades, Clifty Falls, and Indiana Dunes.
Other Activities at Indiana State Parks
But there are many more recreation opportunities at these great public resources. Fishing is always popular and many parks offer great spots for this. I always like to stop by the nature centers when available. It presents a chance to learn more about the wildlife you may encounter. Swimming is also a treat, whether it’s in a natural body of water or one of the public pools found within the parks. And if you work up an appetite or need a warm bed to cap off your visit, many parks have lodges and/or restaurants.
State parks also provide good a home base for further exploration of this great state. We’re hoping to head to Spring Mill State Park later this month for our first trip to this popular park. And while there, we’ll explore more of Lawrence County, an area I’ve only passed through previously.
How many state parks have you visited? What new parks do you plan to get to this summer?