The Midwestern state of Indiana, also nicknamed the Hoosier State, is known for its motorcar race, the Indy 500 and delicious sugar cream pies, but it also has a vast amount of nature to explore. There are 24 state parks in Indiana, from lakeside parks to waterfalls and parks based around historic forts.
There are so many places to visit within the Indiana state park system, so depending on where you go, you’ll want to add at least a couple of these state parks to your Indiana to-do list.
- Indiana State Parks
- 20 State Parks In Indiana To Explore
- 1- Falls of the Ohio State Park
- 2- Charlestown State Park
- 3- Brown County State Park
- 4- Clifty Falls State Park
- 5- Ouabache State Park
- 6- Fort Harrison State Park
- 7- O’Bannon Woods State Park
- 8- Lincoln State Park
- 9- Spring Mill State Park
- 10- Mounds State Park
- 11- Prophetstown State Park
- 12- Summit Lake State Park
- 13- McCormick’s Creek State Park
- 14- Whitewater Memorial State Park
- 15- Pokagon State Park
- 16- Indiana Dunes State Park
- 17- Turkey Run State Park
- 18- Shades State Park
- 19- Versailles State Park
- 20- Tippecanoe River State Park
- 20 State Parks In Indiana To Explore
Indiana State Parks
20 State Parks In Indiana To Explore
1- Falls of the Ohio State Park
This state park sits is on the border between Indiana and Kentucky, set along the Ohio River.
This park is centred around incredible geological fossil beds dating back 390 million years and are the world’s biggest exposed Devonian fossil beds.
One of the first things to do when heading to the park is to check out the visitors/interpretive centre, which has a lot of immersive exhibits where you can learn more about local geology.
It’s a fascinating state park to explore, and the views of the river and across to Kentucky are beautiful.
Falls of the Ohio State Park is at 201 W. Riverside Drive, Clarksville, IN 47129.
2- Charlestown State Park
Charlestown State Park is just upriver from Falls of the Ohio State Park again on the banks of the Ohio River.
It takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes from Indianapolis to drive to this state park.
This state park is part of the 15,000 Indiana Army Ammunition plant.
The park offers scenic vistas of the Fourteen Mile Creek Valley and the Ohio River.
Bird lovers will enjoy this park as there are around 72 species of birds, including bald eagles, black vultures and bluebirds.
There is also a full hookup campsite, hiking trails and opportunity to fish and a playground for kids.
Charlestown State Park is at 3000 State Park Drive, Charlestown, IN 47111.
3- Brown County State Park
Nicknamed the ‘Little Smokies’ because it resembles the Great Smoky Mountains, Brown County State Park is a beautiful Indiana state park.
This state park is directly south of Indianapolis, around 1 hour’s drive along I-65.
The park is the largest in Indiana at 16,000 acres. The park is defined by its rugged hills, ravines, and ridges.
If you are searching for fall foliage colours, check out this state park.
The park is home to Abe Martin Lodge, which offers dining and cabins as well as an indoor water park.
There’s also a large campground and plenty of hiking, biking and horse-riding trails.
Brown County State Park is at 1801 IN-46, Nashville, IN 47448.
4- Clifty Falls State Park
This state park outside of Madison and close to the border with Kentucky in southern Indiana is a fabulous place to escape to nature.
The park is known for its seasonal waterfalls, which change depending on the rainfall.
Head there during spring or winter for the best chances of seeing cascading and frozen falls.
Clifty Canyon provides excellent hiking opportunities.
Although you can see a vast array of fossils, their collection is prohibited in the park.
Clifty Falls State Park is at 2221 Clifty Dr, Madison, IN 47250.
5- Ouabache State Park
Head to eastern Indiana just outside Bluffton and you will find Ouabache State Park, which has a French name pronounced “Wabash”.
During the 1930s, Ouabache State Park was considered the “Greatest Wildlife Laboratory in the U.S.” because they raised pheasants, quails, rabbits and racoons there.
Through work conducted by the CCC, the area was transformed into a wildlife management, recreation and forestry area.
Within the park is Kunkel Lake, an excellent spot for fishing, and in summer, you can enjoy the lake’s beach area.
Ouabache State Park is at 4930 IN-201, Bluffton, IN 46714.
6- Fort Harrison State Park
Fort Harrison State Park is in Indianapolis and is an excellent choice to escape to nature when you don’t have the time to drive to far-flung places in the state.
The park is 1,700 acres (688 ha) and is especially popular in winter when locals grab their sleds and hit the hills.
Despite the popularity of Fort Harrison State Park in winter, it’s a park that’s worth visiting year-round.
If you love fishing, head to Fall Creek, grab a picnic and relax on the grass.
This Indiana state park is excellent for walking, jogging, and hanging out with friends.
The Museum of 20th Century Welfare is in the park and has several exhibits about the history and life of soldiers who used to occupy Fort Harrison.
Fort Harrison State Park is at 6000 N Post Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46216.
7- O’Bannon Woods State Park
O’Bannon Woods State Park is another top Indiana state park once called Wyandotte Woods State Recreation Area, but it’s now classified as a park.
The park is also within the Harrison Crawford State Forest, which covers 2,400 acres (971 ha).
You will find this spark in the south-central area of Indiana along the Ohio River and if you have a boat, a canoe access ramp allows you onto the Ohio River.
On the park site, there is also a restored hay press barn with a farmstead and oxen used for power.
O’Bannon Woods State Park is at 7234 Old Forest Rd, Corydon, IN 47112.
8- Lincoln State Park
Lincoln State Park is the perfect spot for exploring the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln, the U.S.’s 16th president.
You will find this state park in Lincoln City in southern Indiana.
The park’s 10 miles of hiking trails, two lakes and an interpretive centre will keep you busy exploring and learning more about the first settlers in Indiana.
The state park also has a campground, cabins and cottages.
If you love history, tour the Colonel Jones Home, which was the home of a merchant and Civil War officer who once employed Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln State Park is at 15476 County Rd 300 E, Lincoln City, IN 47552.
9- Spring Mill State Park
Spring Mill State Park is around 87 miles south of Indianapolis along I-69 and IN-37.
If you love nature but also like experiencing culture, this is a great park to visit.
Cave springs within the park led to the founding of an industrial village during the 1800s.
Early settlers in the area took advantage of the water source and started using it for gristmills, a wool mill and a distillery.
Visitors can learn more about the park at the park’s four interpretive facilities.
There’s the Pioneer Village, Grissom Memorial, the Nature Center and the Twin Caves Boat Tour.
All of these sites are connected through hiking trails.
Spring Mill State Park is at 3333 IN-60 E, Mitchell, IN 47446.
10- Mounds State Park
Mounds State Park is near Anderson in central eastern Indiana, around 50 minutes’ drive outside central Indianapolis.
This park is home to 10 fascinating earthworks built by prehistoric Indians, the Adena-Hopewell people.
The largest of the 10 earthworks, the Great Mount is believed to have been constructed in 160 B.C.
The mounds were used for religious ceremonies and it was at these earthworks where astronomical alignments could be viewed.
As well as viewing the earthworks, there is also a nature centre with a wildlife viewing room, animal displays and interactive fun.
Mounds State Park is at 4306 Mounds Rd, Anderson, IN 46017.
11- Prophetstown State Park
Prophetstown State Park is the newest of Indiana’s state parks.
Near West Lafayette, where the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers meet, this is a great state park for nature lovers.
The park’s landscape was formed many years ago by glaciers.
Native Americans then lived and hunted along the two rivers for thousands of years.
This state park is in partnership with the Farm at Prophetstown.
Visitors to the park can discover what living and working on a 1920s farm was like.
You can experience Native American culture while strolling around the 900-acre (364 ha) restored prairie.
The park’s aquatic centre features a fun 30-foot tube slide, body flume, floating river, and an aquatic basketball area.
Prophetstown State Park is at Park Entrance: 5545 Swisher Road Office, 4112 IN-225, West Lafayette, IN 47906.
12- Summit Lake State Park
Amazing views, a day out on the water and fishing attract most people to Summit Lake State Park, 60 miles (96.5 km) northeast of Indianapolis.
The park is around 2,680 acres (1085 ha) and Summit Lake is at its heart.
The lake has a beach, a bathhouse and three boat ramps.
There is also the opportunity to camp with 120 campsites.
While exploring the water, look for wonderful birdlife like waterfowl in the surrounding prairies and wet meadows.
Summit Lake State Park is at 5993 N Messick Rd, New Castle, IN 47362.
13- McCormick’s Creek State Park
McCormick’s Creek State Park is around a 25-minute drive outside of the city of Bloomington.
The park is home to picturesque waterfalls, limestone canyons and many walking trails where you can admire beautiful wildflowers, spice bushes and forest trees.
There’s also the Wolf Cave Nature Preserve and a nature centre where you can learn more about the area.
For the park’s historical attractions, head to the Statehouse Quarry, where there’s an old fire tower and a shelter house.
McCormick’s Creek State Park is at 250 McCormick Creek Park Rd, Spencer, IN 47460.
14- Whitewater Memorial State Park
On the eastern shores of Whitewater Lake is Whitewater Memorial State Park in eastern Indiana near the Ohio border.
The 200-acre (81 ha) lake at the heart of this state park is a wonderful attraction for outdoor enthusiasts.
The park also provides access to Brookville Reservoir and a chance to hike around the lake, go boating, swim, fish and camp close to the water.
If you are into horse riding, check out the horseman’s campground and then explore the nine miles of riding trails.
Whitewater Memorial State Park is at 1418 S State Rd 101, Liberty, IN 47353.
15- Pokagon State Park
Pokagon State Park sits in the northeastern corner of Indiana, around 50 minutes north of Fort Wayne.
Pokagon State Park got its name from the rich Native American heritage in the area.
The park is actually named after two of the Potawatomi people’s most esteemed leaders, Leopold and Simon Pokagon.
On the park’s west side, there’s Snow Lake and Lake James.
Fishing, swimming and boating are popular activities in the park, but the place becomes a magical cross-country skiing area when winter comes.
There are also twin-track toboggan runs, ice fishing and sledding.
Pokagon State Park is at 450 Ln 100 Lake James, Angola, IN 46703.
16- Indiana Dunes State Park
Indiana Dunes State Park is in northern Indiana on the shores of Lake Michigan, around an hour’s drive from Chicago via the I-90 E.
This park covers over 2,000 acres (809 ha) of space and is the perfect place to disconnect from everyday life and enjoy nature, with three miles of dune-lined shores to explore.
From Lake Michigan to the flora and fauna on the dunes, this is a wonderful landscape that feels far removed from other places in Indiana.
You can explore this state park on foot or by bike but be sure to spend time running up and down the dunes. Hike Trail 9 is frequently cited as the best hiking spot in Indiana.
Indiana Dunes State Park is at Porter, IN 463034.
17- Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run State Park is just outside of Marshall in central western Indiana.
This park is all about the beauties of the soft named Sugar Creek.
The park is open from 7 am to 11 pm, leaving you with plenty of time to explore the 14 miles of hiking trails in the park.
If you are a horseriding enthusiast, head out along the dedicated trails.
There are also several picnic sites in the park, so be sure to bring some food.
Some shelter houses have BBQs and electricity, so you can make more out of your lunch or dinner in the park.
There are so many things to do in this state park, including visiting the nature centre, swimming pool and ball courts.
The scenic Sugar Creek is the perfect spot for canoeing, kayaking, tubing or fishing.
Turkey Run State Park is at 8121 Park Rd, Marshall, IN 47859.
18- Shades State Park
Southwest of Crawfordsville is Shades State Park, which is less frequented than other Indiana parks and a peaceful getaway.
The sandstone cliffs of Shades State Park look out over Sugar Creek and create some incredible ravines.
Pine Hills Nature Preserve is the perfect place to appreciate nature within the state park.
Shades State Park is just a 20-minute drive from Turkey Run State Park, so it’s perfectly feasible to do one park in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Shades State Park is at 7751 S 890 W, Waveland, IN 47989.
19- Versailles State Park
Versailles State Park is Indiana’s second-largest state park, close to the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, around 77 miles (123 km) from Indianapolis.
The park has a unique geological and historical story to tell. Fossils have been discovered in the park, showcasing the ancient sea that once covered the region.
The site was also somewhere that Morgan’s Raiders travelled through during the Civil War, and the town of Versailles was also briefly under Confederate control.
There’s a 250-acre lake where you can rent canoes, kayaks and rowboats.
Whether you set out on foot, on horseback or on your bike, there are plenty of trails to enjoy.
You can see herons and other aquatic creatures within the park.
Head there in the fall to enjoy the Versailles Pumpkin Show the last weekend in September.
Versailles State Park is at 1387 US-50, Versailles, IN 47042.
20- Tippecanoe River State Park
Tippecanoe River State Park is 85 miles (136 km) west of Fort Wayne in northern Indiana.
Naturally, the most popular part of this park is the river for canoeing and kayaking.
The trails throughout the park are another fun activity.
There are nine miles of trails dedicated to hiking and the other 14 miles are a combination of hiking and biking trails.
There are also opportunities to camp with primitive, electric and camper cabins.
Tippecanoe River State Park is at 4200 N US Hwy 35, Winamac, IN 46996.
For more amazing US state parks to visit, read:
- 13 North Dakota State Parks
- 7 South Dakota State Parks
- 20 Illinois State Parks
- 20 Texas State Parks
- 20 Colorado State Parks
- 20 Florida State Parks
- 20 Florida Keys State Parks
- 20 Arizona State Parks
- 20 Indiana State Parks
- 20 Minnesota State Parks
- 20 Connecticut State Parks
- 20 Washington State Parks
- 20 West Virginia State Parks
- 20 Michigan State Parks
- 20 Ohio State Parks
- 20 Oregon State Parks
- 20 New Mexico State Parks
- 20 Kentucky State Parks
- 17 Nebraska State Parks
- 20 Montana State Parks
- 20 Mississippi State Parks
- 21 Massachusetts State Parks
- 20 New Hampshire State Parks
- 20 New Jersey State Parks
- 20 Iowa State Parks
- 20 NC State Parks
- 20 Maryland State Parks
- 20 Nevada State Parks
- 20 Kansas State Parks
- 20 Arkansas State Parks
- 20 Wisconsin State Parks
- 20 South Carolina State Parks
- 20 Tennessee State Parks
- 20 Georgia State Parks
- 20 Hawaii State Parks
- 20 Virginia State Parks
- 20 Missouri State Parks
- 20 Oklahoma State Parks
- 20 Utah State Parks
- 20 Idaho State Parks
- 20 Louisiana State Parks
- 20 Vermont State Parks
- 20 Wyoming State Parks