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waterfall in the woods at a state park near bloomington indianaFor those who live around the city of Bloomington, Indiana’s 24 fantastic state parks afford them huge opportunities to connect with nature.

Presenting over 700 miles of trails, the region is a terrific one to explore. And with 15 exceptional beaches, 160 playgrounds, 17 marinas and some 75 launching ramps you are not likely to bore easily here.

If you are into fishing, hiking, biking, swimming or water sports like kayaking, canoeing and SUP, you will be spoiled for choice.

Whilst campers can choose between options that include 7700 campsites, 150 cabins and over 200 shelters.

So with all these chances for outdoor recreational activities pretty much on your doorstep, the only question remains as to where you are going to go.

Map of State Parks Near Bloomington Indiana

Here is a map of the state parks in Indiana covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near Bloomington

Showcased below is an overview of 5 excellent state parks near Bloomington you should make a point of heading to.

All of these public recreational spaces can be accessed within a two hour and 20 minute drive from the city. So they make very good options for day trip destinations.

However, should you want to stay overnight at any of them, they all offer various camping facilities as well.

1. Shakamak State Park

Location: 6265 IN-48, Jasonville, IN 47438

Just over an hour’s drive east of Bloomington resides Shakamak State Park.

Boasting three scenic man-made lakes which collectively hold 400 acres of water, this is a top spot for fishing, row boating, kayaking and SUP.

For those who love swimming, there is a new family-friendly aquatic center onsite that provides a safe environment to do so, while there are also plenty of opportunities for hiking through the surrounds.

Visitors can also enjoy the use of tennis courts, a basketball net, playground and boat dock, as well as various nature programmes.

Overall, about two-thirds of the campsites are situated within a wooded area, which provides welcome shade in the summer and stunning colors in fall. Some 222 accommodation options available, which comprise 131 sites with electric hook-ups, as well as 22 cabins, 12 cottages, 8 full hookup and 42 non-electric sites.

There is also a group camp, 4 shelters and 2 Rec buildings. While, you will find toilets, a dump station, drinking water and a concession stall that sells basic items you might also need.

2. Shades State Park

Location: 7751 S 890 W, Waveland, IN 47989

Located a 90 minute drive north of Bloomington is Shades State Park.

Incorporating some 3,082 acres, it is a place of much solitude and serenity. Known for its excellent hiking opportunities, several trails will take you to stunning sandstone cliffs that lord over Sugar Creek. As well as a number of shaded ravines that lie within the heart of the park.

Sugar Creek itself is not safe for swimming. However, it is a noted spot for canoeing, and a nice spot in which to picnic.

One of the other main attractions of the park is the Silver Cascade waterfall which, although fairly small, is unique in that it is a convex waterfall. Be sure to head to Lover’s Leap, near Sugar Creek, in order to get a fantastic view of it from an observation deck that was built over the cliff.

Overall the park offers 101 non-electric sites for camping, as well as 5 youth tents and 3 shelters. All of which provide a fantastic base for stargazing at night.

Shades State Park also has a playground for kids. While you can access drinking water, a dump station and a retail concession stand here too.

3. Mounds State Park

Location: 4306 Mounds Rd, Anderson, IN 46017

Located an hour and 40 minute drive from Bloomington, the Mounds State Park is an area of massive cultural significance for Native Americans.

Incorporating an area of 102 hectares, this park is renowned for ten ceremonial mounds. Which are thought to have been constructed by the prehistoric Adena people some time around 160 BC, as a gathering place for religious ceremonies.

While this fascinating landmark is the undoubted drawcard of the park, it also boasts a number of excellent hiking trails. Some of which take you to scenic white river spots, which provide comely places to swim.

In terms of camping options there are 75 electric sites on offer, as well as several youth tent areas. You will also find a dumping station and camp store here too.

4. Summit Lake State Park

Location: 5993 N Messick Rd, New Castle, IN 47362

Around a 2 hour drive northwest of Bloomington lies the Summit Lake State Park.

Spread across some 2680 acres, this spectacular park is centered around a shimmering lake, which provides wonderful opportunities for beaching, swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, SUP and picnicking.

If you love wildlife observation and bird watching this is an excellent place to come, as the area is a well known spot for both. Expect to see the likes of black tern, the bald eagle, sandhill crane, American bittern, least bittern, king rail and osprey, as you hike through its many trails.

There is also a spacious campground here which offers 120 electric campsites, as well as a beach bathhouse and two big sized open shelters that can be reserved for private functions.

5. Mississinewa Lake State Park

Location: E 500 S, Peru, IN 46970

At 2 hours 20 minutes, Mississinewa Lake State Park is the furthest destination from Bloomington on this list. But it is well worth the drive north there.

One of three exceptional Upper Wabash flood-control reservoirs that reside within the north-central region of Indiana, this park is a haven for those who love swimming, fishing, boating and hunting.

As it is surrounded by a picturesque landscape of forest, farmland and prairies, it is also an excellent spot for hiking and wildlife watching too.

There is a massive campground here which accommodates more than 400 sites for tents and RVs, as well as cabins.
Mississinewa Lake also offers a range of other amenities, including volleyball and basketball courts, as well as a Frisbee Golf Course and horseshoes.

You will also find playground equipment. As well as a couple of fishing piers and a marina with 4 separate boating ramps too.