There is a state park within just one hour of anywhere in the state of Indiana. Sandy lakeshores can be found at Indiana Dunes, cascading waterfalls at Clifty Falls, and narrow slit canyons at Turkey Run. Brown County is filled with rolling hills that contain beautiful colors during the fall season.
1.Brookville Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park
Brookville Lake -Whitewater Memorial State Park is home to the Brookville Reservoir, situated in the Whitewater River Valley’s historic east fork. Remnants of mounds formed by prehistoric Native Americans can still be seen in the valley. The area is well known by some throughout the world for having a significant amount of Ordovician fossils. The Brookville Lake area also consists of two State Recreation Areas: Quakertown State Recreation Area and Mounds State Recreation Area. These feature over twenty-five miles of trails for hiking, two beaches, over four hundred campsites, and opportunities for boating, as well as sport and recreational fishing.
3056 Quakertown Ramp Rd, Liberty, IN 47353, Phone: 765-647-2657
2.Brown County State Park
Brown County is often referred to as the “Little Smokies” as it resembles the Great Smoky Mountains, encompassing almost sixteen thousand acres of fog-shrouded ravines, ridges, and rugged hills. The largest park in Indiana, Brown County State Park is particularly popular during the fall months when the leaves change color, offering almost twenty miles of roads lined with fall foliage and scenic vistas that overlook the uninterrupted forest. Seventy miles of horse trails, a saddle barn, interpretive services, trails for mountain biking and hiking, large campgrounds, and the Abe Martin Lodge can all be found in the Brown County State Park.
Nashville, IN 47448, Phone: 812-988-6406
3.Cagles Mill Lake
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Cagles Mill Lake was constructed in 1952 as the first flood control reservoir in the state of Indiana, protecting the White and Eel river watersheds. The 1,400 Cagles Mill Lake is fed by Mill Creek, home to the picturesque Cataract Falls. The Potawatomi, Shawnee, and MIami once inhabited the area during the 1800’s. Visitors can learn about the legends and history of the area at the Nature Center, while the Aquatic Center feature a water slide, water bubblers, and a zero-entrance swimming pool. The Aquatic Center is only open from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
1317 W. Lieber Rd, Cloverdale, IN 46120, Phone: 765-795-4576
4.Cecil M. Harden Lake
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The Cecil M. Harden Lake recreation area includes the Historic Mansfield Roller Mill and the Raccoon State Recreation Area. An array of plants and animals can be seen on the grounds. THe Historic Mansfield Roller Mill has been preserved and is a working example of the turn-of-the-twentieth century industrialization of the state of Indiana. The 1880’s flour mill demonstrates to visitors using machinery from the time period how corn and wheat were processed into cornmeal and flour. Other activities visitors will find at Cecil M. Harden Lake include fishing, picnicking, hiking, basketball courts, an archery range, a playground, and camping.
1588 S. Raccoon Pkwy, Rockville, IN 47872, Phone: 765-344-1412
5.Charlestown State Park
The Charlestown State Park was once a mostly undeveloped section of the extensive Indiana Army Ammunition plant. The state park is easy to access off of State Road 62 and features scenic vistas of the Ohio River and Fourteen-Mile Creek Valley, as well as deep ravines and rugged hills. Bird watchers will find plenty to see in the Charlestown State Park with seventy-two different bird species, including the occasional bald eagle, black vultures, and bluebirds. Charlestown is one of Indiana’s two state parks that includes campsites with full hookups. Other activities include hiking trails, fishing, and a playground.
12500 Indiana 62, Charlestown, IN 47111, Phone: 812-256-5600
6.Clifty Falls State Park
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The Clifty Falls State Park has entrances on both State Road 56 and State Road 62 near Madison, Indiana. The waterfalls in the park change with the seasons and weather, ranging from bridal-veil mists to roaring plunging cascades to frozen titans. The waterfalls of the Clifty Falls State Park are usually at their best during the spring and winter. The rugged Clifty Canyon provide exciting scenery and hiking opportunities throughout the year. The stony bed of Clifty Creek is full of fossil remnants, however, collecting fossils is prohibited within the park. There are collecting locations nearby though.
2221 Clifty Dr, Madison, IN 47250, Phone: 812-273-8885
7.Falls of the Ohio State Park
The Falls of the Ohio State Park is located along the Ohio River’s banks in Clarksville. Its fossil beds are more than 385 million years old and are the world’s largest exposed Devonian fossil beds. The state park includes an excellent interpretive center that overlooks these fossil beds and features immersive and interactive exhibits. Some of the popular activities within the Falls of the Ohio State Park area picnicking, bird watching, fossil viewing, hiking, and fishing. During the months of August, September, and October, the river is typically at its lowest, providing better accessibility to the park’s fossil beds stretching 220 acres.
201 W. Riverside Dr, Clarksville, IN 47129, Phone: 812-280-9970
The 1,700-acres Fort Harrison state park that is open year-round, and is particularly popular during the winter season since the park is home to some of the area’s largest sledding hills. The park features two national historic districts, access for fishing at Fall Creek, picnic sites, and trails for jogging and walking. Fort Harrison is also home to the Museum of 20th Century Warfare, which displays exhibits about the history and lives of soldiers who once occupied the ground of the old Fort Harrison. The state park is a green oasis within the urban landscape of Indianapolis.
6000 N. Post Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46216, Phone: 317-591-0904
9.George Rogers Clark National Historical Park
The George Rogers Clark National Historical Park is the site where the British surrendered to the American Colonel George Rogers Clark on February 25 of 1779. The capture of the fort assured claims to the frontier for the United States, an area that was almost the size of the nation’s original thirteen states. The visitor center presents a movie lasting around thirty minutes about the western campaign of George Rogers Clark, as well as an audio program. Various exhibits explore Fort Sackville, the different cultures that were involved in the story of Clark, and additional facets of the Northwest Territory conquest.
401 S. 2nd St, Vincennes, IN 47591, Phone: 812-882-1776
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Hardy Lake is the state of Indiana’s only state reservoir that was not constructed for flood control. This means the level of the lake remains stable throughout the year, which positively affects the wildlife around the lake, fishing, and the shoreline’s appearance. The multi-use facility offers camping, skiing, boating, swimming, hiking, and other activities. Great fossils, caves, rocky bluffs, and limestone surround Hardy Lake on all sides. The area is also home to a raptor rehabilitation center, and is the only DNR property to have one. This center provides care for injured birds of prey and education for visitors.
5620 N. Hardy Lake Rd, Scottsburg, IN 47170, Phone: 812-794-3800
11.Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
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The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore runs along fifteen miles of Lake Michigan’s southern shore and offers quite a bit to visitors, whether it’s looking for rare bird species during bird watching, flying kites along the sandy beach, or simply enjoying the sunshine. Hikers can explore approximately fifty miles of hiking trails that traverse through serene forests, across winding rivers, through sun-soaked prairies and mysterious wetlands, and over rugged dunes. Visitors can sunbathe and swim during the summer season, and do some snowshoeing and cross-country skiing during the winter months. Fishing and camping are popular activities in the park as well.
1215 N State Rd 49, Porter, IN 46304, Phone: 219-395-1882
12.Lincoln State Park
The Lincoln State Park allows visitors to explore the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln, the United States of America’s sixteenth president. A young Abraham Lincoln learned several life lessons among the area’s thick forest and rolling hills. Now a state park, the area includes ten miles of trails for hiking, an interpretive center to help discover what life was like for early settlers in the southern region of Indiana, the historic home of Colonel Jones, and two scenic lakes. The whole family or small groups can stay on the grounds in one of the group cottages, cabins, or campgrounds.
Indiana 162, Lincoln City, IN 47552, Phone: 812-937-4710
13.McCormick’s Creek State Park
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The McCormick’s Creek State Park provides visitors a chance to explore scenic waterfalls, flowing creeks, and an amazing limestone canyon, all within the first state park in the state of Indiana. Hiking trails feature native wildflowers, spicebush, and a variety of forest trees. These trail include an accessible trail located near the nature center and a trail that traverses the Wolf Cave Nature Preserve. The Canyon Inn, situated within the grounds of McCormick’s Creek State Park offers a great spot to relax, while history can be found in the historic Statehouse Quarry, the fire towner, and the shelter houses.
250 McCormick's Creek Park Rd, Spencer, IN 47460, Phone: 812-829-2235
The Mississinewa Lake is one of the Upper Wabash area’s three reservoirs for flood control and provides great opportunities for boating, hunting, and fishing within north-central Indiana. Along with the park’s campground consisting of more than four hundred campsites and cabins for families, Mississinewa Lake was the first of Indiana’s state properties to introduce seasonal camping, which allows guests to retain their campsite for the entirety of the season. The farmland, prairies, and forests that surround the lake offer an attractive habitat for a broad array of wildlife, providing bicyclists, bird watchers, and hiker with opportunities for wildlife viewing.
4673 S. 625 E, Peru, IN 46970, Phone: 765-473-6528
15.Mounds State Park
Mounds State Park near Anderson, Indiana is made up of ten unique earthworks that were constructed by the Adena-Hopewell people, a group of prehistoric Native Americans. The Great Mound, which is the largest earthwork in the park, is thought to have been built around the year 160 BC. These mound were once used as a place of gathering for religious ceremonies. The park’s Nature Center is open daily from 9:00am until 4:00pm and features interactive games, animal display, a room for wildlife viewing, and more. Interpretive programs and naturalist-led hikes are offered year-round during the weekends.
4306 Mounds Rd, Anderson, IN 46017, Phone: 765-642-6627
16.O'Bannon Woods State Park
The O'Bannon Woods State Park, which was formerly known as the Wyandotte Woods State Recreation Area, in the south-central regional of Indiana along the Ohio River. The park is nestled within the Harrison Crawford State Forest, which encompasses twenty-six thousand acres. O’Bannon Woods was the site of one of the country’s few African-American units of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The grounds also contain a working, uniquely restored haypress barn, featuring a pioneer farmstead and oxen for power. The Corydon Capitol State Historic Site and the Wyandotte Caves are located near the O'Bannon Woods State Park as well.
7234 Old Forest Rd SW, Corydon, IN 47112, Phone: 812-738-8232
17.Ouabache State Park
The Ouabache State Park near Bluffton, Indiana is a park that is easy to pronounce but can be difficult to spell. The name of this park is pronounced like “Wabash” and is the French spelling of the Indian word. The Wabash river forms the park’s southwestern boundary. Kunkel Lake is located within the grounds of Ouabache State Park and offers visitors excellent opportunities for some fishing. Throughout the summer season, naturalists are in the park to provide guests with information about the park’s natural wonders. There is also a lodge-like recreation building available year-round for special events and gatherings.
4930 E. State Rd 201, Bluffton, IN 46714, Phone: 260-824-0926
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Patoka Lake is a park consisting of twenty-six thousand acres of water and land and is an excellent example of lake ecology. The lake itself encompasses 8,800 acres and provides a habitat for bald eagle nesting sites and freshwater jellyfish. Osprey and river otters have also been reintroduced at Patoka Lake. A variety of Interpretive Services are available at specific times in the park, including programs featuring an Eastern screech owl, bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, the Moery Cabin, and additional cultural and natural history features. Other programs include cooking with Dutch ovens, kayaking, and other skills used in the outdoors.
3084 N. Dillard Rd, Birdseye, IN 47513, Phone: 812-685-2464
19.Pokagon State Park
The Pokagon State Park got its name in acknowledgement of the rich heritage of the region and state’s Native American heritage. Leopold and Simon Pokagon were the Potawatomi people’s last most notable leaders. Framed by Snow Lake and Lake James, the Pokagon State Park offers plenty of opportunities for scenic sunsets, fishing, swimming, and boating. It is also the winter wonderland of Indiana’s state park system, offering cross-country ski rentals, a twin-track toboggan run, ice fishing, and sledding during the winter season. The one-fourth-mile toboggan run is open during the weekends from Thanksgiving through February, with extended Christmas holiday hours.
450 Lane 100 Lake James, Angola, IN 46703, Phone: 260-833-2012
Prophetstown is the newest state park in Indiana near West Lafayette, Indiana where the Wabash River meets the Tippecanoe River. The landscape of the park was shaped by human hands, fire, moving water, and glacier ice. In cooperation with The Farm at Prophetstown, guests of the park can learn about the farm lifestyle of the 1920’s, walk through restored prairie spanning across nine hundred acres, and discover Native American culture. Prophetstown is also home to an Aquatic Center, featuring a lazy river, aquatic activity area, zero-entry pool and play area for children, body flume, and a 30-foot slide.
5545 Swisher Rd, West Lafayette, IN 47906, Phone: 765-567-4919
21.Shades State Park
The Shades State Park is a peaceful state park a little less than twenty miles southwest from Crawfordsville, Indiana. It a particularly popular park among canoeists and hikers. The stunning sandstone cliffs overlook Sugar Creek and several shady ravines provide a backdrop for adventures through the paradise for nature lovers. No camping is offered within Shades State Park, however, camping can be found at the nearby Turkey Run State Park. The Pine Hills Nature Preserve is also located within the grounds of the park, offering spectacular topography for visitors who enjoy rather long hikes.
7751 S. 890 W, Waveland, IN 47989, Phone: 765-435-2810
22.Summit Lake State Park
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Summit Lake State Park attracts visitors with its good fishing and expansive views. The expansive park covers over 2,680 acres and includes a rather large lake. Facilities within the park include two open shelters capable of being reserved, a beach bathhouse, three boat ramps, and 120 campsites with electricity. The Summit Lake offers a great wildlife observation and bird watching area. The area has been a significant spot for waterfowl thanks to its numerous prairies and wet meadows. In the park’s southwest corner are is the mostly undisturbed Zeigler Woods, the first nature preserve in Henry County.
5993 N. Messick Rd, New Castle, IN 47362, Phone: 765-766-5873
23.Turkey Run State Park
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Turkey Run State Park near Marshall, Indiana is home to several geological wonder across the beautiful grounds as visitors hike down the famous trails. Situated on State Road 47, the state park provides an opportunity to take in scenic views down Sugar Creek, walk through aged forests, and explore the deep sandstone ravines. As visitors step into one of the several ravines, it’s as if they have taken a journey through time, as the sandstone gorges are representative of 300 to 600 millions years of the handiwork of nature. Visitors can also explore the Colonel Richard Lieber Cabin.
8121 E. Park Rd, Marshall, IN 47859, Phone: 765-597-2635
24.Versailles State Park
The Versailles State Park lets visitors drive over scenic rolling hills through southeast Indiana in the second largest of Indiana’s state parks. The history of the area is deeply rooted in the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Civil War. The 230-acre park lake provides abundant fishing, and visitors can rent canoes, kayaks, and rowboats to take out on the lake as well. Versailles State Park is also home to trails for mountain biking and hiking, as well as over twenty miles of trails for horseback riding. The scenic overlooks are great spots to view herons and aquatic wildlife.
1387 U.S. 50 East, Versailles, IN 47042, Phone: 812-689-6424
25.Whitewater Memorial State Park
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The Whitewater Memorial State Park is a section of the Brookville Lake-Whitewater Memorial State Park Complex. Thanks to the Brookville Reservoir, the Whitewater Lake that spans two hundred acres, and several recreational facilities, the park makes for an excellent getaway for families. Opportunities for camping, fishing, swimming, flat-water boating, and shoreline hiking are in abundance around the man-made Whitewater Lake. Whitewater Memorial State Park contains nine mile of horse trails with trail access both from a horsemen’s campground and for day users. The saddle barn in the park offers sleigh rides, guided trail rides, and hayrides, weather permitting.
1418 S. State Rd 101, Liberty, IN 47353, Phone: 765-458-5565
25 Best Indiana State & National Parks
- Brookville Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park, Photo: wavemovies/stock.adobe.com
- Brown County State Park, Photo: KengYang/stock.adobe.com
- Cagles Mill Lake, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- Cecil M. Harden Lake, Photo: Hank Erdmann/stock.adobe.com
- Charlestown State Park, Photo: Claude/stock.adobe.com
- Clifty Falls State Park, Photo: Keith Klosterman/stock.adobe.com
- Falls of the Ohio State Park, Photo: simonwhitehurst/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Harrison, Photo: pixelleo/stock.adobe.com
- George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, Photo: SNEHIT/stock.adobe.com
- Hardy Lake, Photo: Janina Dierks/stock.adobe.com
- Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Photo: Steve Gadomski/stock.adobe.com
- Lincoln State Park, Photo: EdNurg/stock.adobe.com
- McCormick’s Creek State Park, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- Mississinewa Lake, Photo: mizzick/stock.adobe.com
- Mounds State Park, Photo: okostia/stock.adobe.com
- O'Bannon Woods State Park, Photo: bobmachee/stock.adobe.com
- Ouabache State Park, Photo: in_his_image/stock.adobe.com
- Patoka Lake, Photo: Alberto Masnovo/stock.adobe.com
- Pokagon State Park, Photo: alyssamaephoto/stock.adobe.com
- Prophetstown, Photo: sbgoodwin/stock.adobe.com
- Shades State Park, Photo: Wirepec/stock.adobe.com
- Summit Lake State Park, Photo: JT Fisherman/stock.adobe.com
- Turkey Run State Park, Photo: Michael Carroll/stock.adobe.com
- Versailles State Park, Photo: johnsroad7/stock.adobe.com
- Whitewater Memorial State Park, Photo: Iakov Kalinin/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Refocus Photography/stock.adobe.com