Indiana State Parks Activities
The Hoosier State is home to some of the best camping sites found in the United States. At Brown County State Park, situated in the bustling city of Nashville, pitch your tent in one of the largest campgrounds in the state. The park’s surrounding natural landscapes and abundance of amenities make it a favorite among residents and out-of-town visitors alike.
McCormick’s Creek State Park is also a great park to camp at, featuring a limestone canyon, a flowing creek, and cascading waterfalls. The park has over a hundred sites to choose from that come with electrical hookups and shower facilities. Those who want a rustic camping experience while enjoying the benefits of modern plumbing will surely love this park!
Those who want to wake up to incredible views of the Ohio River should head over to the camping sites at Clifty Falls State Park, which boasts of rugged canyons, huge waterfalls, and a historic railroad tunnel. Families, in particular, are huge fans of camping at this park!
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If you’re an avid hiker visiting Indiana, then you have plenty of options to choose from. Trails at Shades State Park are extremely popular, taking hikers up creeks through Shawnee Canyon and across wooden bridges. The park’s trails also feature the Devil’s Punch Bowl, the Silver Cascade Falls, and Prospect Point, all of which make for an afternoon hike that you won’t forget!
Hiking at McCormick’s Creek State Park is also a must for everyone! The trails found here meander towards the river where hikers can see the McCormick Creek Falls. If you’re feeling a bit tired, feel free to plunge your feet in its icy waters to refresh yourself!
Those who prefer a hike with a bit more flavor will love the trails found at Charlestown State Park, which travel out to the Rose Island Loop where hikers can discover an abandoned amusement park from the 1920s. The park also offers hand-cranked recorded stories to those planning to take this trail, making it feel as if you were going to a huge outdoor museum.
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The 25-mile Adventure Hiking Trail at O’Bannon Woods State Park is a favorite among backpackers looking for a challenge! The entire route takes between two to three days to cover and features incredible views of the Ohio River, as well as its surrounding valleys. Elevation changes, sinkholes, and caves can also be expected while on this trail.
Summit Lake State Park is one of the best fishing destinations in Indiana. The park features three boat ramps, which visitors are free to make use of. Those planning to fish here are encouraged to follow the White Ibis bird species, which the park has thousands of, in order to score amazing catches.
Another great yet underrated fishing hole in the state is Potato Creek State Park, made for anglers looking for bass, catfish, and crappie.
Deer hunting is offered by several state parks in Indiana, including Charlestown State Park, Tippecanoe River State Park, and Chain O’Lakes State Park.
At Turkey Run State Park, paddle your canoe on the state’s most scenic river, Sugar Creek. Surrounded by lush greenery with plenty of wildlife roaming about, this boating spot is an excursion to remember!
The lakes found at Shakamak State Park also make for a great boating experience. The park recently built several kayak launches to make their recreational activities more accessible and enjoyable to visitors.
Day Use Areas
If you’re looking for an unforgettable picnic trip, then the stunning countryside of Indiana should be at the top of your list! At White River State Park, take your meal among lush forests and waterfront knolls. Within the park lies the Indianapolis Zoo, the White River Gardens, and Victory Field so you’ll have plenty of attractions to check out once you’ve finished your food.
On the other hand, Brown County State Park is the perfect autumn picnic destination due to its beautiful foliage. Enjoy a hearty stew bubbling over a crackling fire in one of the park’s stone shelters. There are also plenty of picnic tables and standing grills scattered all over the rolling hillsides of this park.
At Spring Mill State Park, enjoy your food amid historical buildings, shacks, stanchions, and stone walls. This park brims with history, making it the go-to destination for history buffs and enthusiasts from all over the country.
Brown County State Park has some of the best biking trails in Indiana that vary in difficulty and skill level. The 1.2-mile North Gate Trail and the 3.5-mile North Tower Loop are perfect for beginners and newbies to the sport while Bobcat Loop and Hobb’s Hollow are reserved only for expert bikers. The latter two trails feature rough terrain and plenty of challenges so extreme caution must be taken by those choosing to take this on!
The 4-mile Shadow Run Loop at Versailles State Park is an easy route made for those looking for a laidback ride through the park’s lush forests. Those who want to take their skills to the next level, however, can choose to go on the park’s single-track Cliffside Trail, which flows above Laughery Creek.
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Indiana Dunes State Park is the best Bird-watching hotspot in the state where glimpses of Snowy Owls, Boreal Chickadees, and Hoary Redpolls may be enjoyed through your binoculars. Many Birders prefer to visit the park during the autumn season when several rare species make temporary homes within the many habitats inside the park. The park’s diverse environments make it the go-to destination for Bird-watchers visiting Indiana!
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Many consider Indiana Dunes State Park to be the best swimming hole in the state with its beautiful sandy beaches and cool waters. The beach tends to get crowded in the summertime, though, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your visit.
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One of the best golf courses in the entire country is found in Indiana! The Fort Golf Course at Fort Harrison State Park features 18 holes, 7,148 yards, and a par 72 design amid tree-lined fairways and rolling hills. Golfers who want to perfect their shot while taking in the state’s beautiful scenery will undoubtedly love this course.
Turkey Run State Park offers guided rides on the many equestrian trails found within. Keep in mind, though, that the saddle barn is only open from April to October and costs $18 for a three-mile ride.
Guided trails on horseback are also popular at Fort Harrison State Park. Children, in particular, love exploring the beautiful scenery of Indiana while riding their own horse!
Equestrian camping sites may be found at Brown County State Park, which also offers guided tours and pony rides for young kids. Enjoy a scenic ride through a picturesque and unforgettable landscape!
If you’re interested in exploring a few caves, then be sure to stop by O’Bannon Woods State Park where the Wyandotte Caves can be found. Inside this pair of caves are rare formations and Washington Avenue, a long and massive passageway known all over the country. The park offers visitors two guided tours: one for cave explorers of all skill levels and one for those daring enough to take on a more challenging route.
Wolf Cave at McCormick’s Creek State Park is also a must-visit, featuring plenty of passageways and an underground stream. Be advised, though, that the cave is considered by many to be a “tight squeeze.”
Restaurants and Dining
Those who want to sample fresh local ingredients and the region’s specialties may do so at Narrows Restaurant in Turkey Run State Park, which features all-American and family-friendly meals, such as the Hoosier Tenderloin and Sugar Creek Catfish Filets. The restaurant also has outside seating available so diners can enjoy the beautiful views of the park while eating their meal.
The Canyon Inn Restaurant at McCormick’s Creek State Park is also a dining experience to remember. The restaurant menu features the best of Indiana’s produce and a glass-enclosed porch gives diners an incredible view of the surrounding natural landscapes and the roaming wildlife.
If you’re visiting Indiana, be sure to stop by George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, located in the town of Vincennes on the banks of the Wabash River. The park is situated on the site of the former Fort Sackville, whose capture solidified the United States’ claims to the frontier, which encompassed nearly all of the original 13 states.
Indiana has a host of winter activities that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone! Go for a hair-raising ride down the Toboggan Run at Pokagon State Park where you can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Lines here tend to get long, though, so be sure to get there early.
Potato Creek State Park offers winter visitors the opportunity to build a bluebird nesting box, which they can choose to bring home with them or donate to the park. These comfy little boxes are perfect for those who want to provide a safe habitat for these little creatures.
Winter hikes at Clifty Falls State Park are extremely popular with hikers exploring the snow-covered rock formations of Clifty Canyon. This hike takes around 90 minutes to complete but the views definitely worth it.