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Enjoy Spectacular Indiana Parks and Recreation Sites
Indiana parks and recreation options are almost endless. With more than 25 state parks to choose from, you may want to extend your stay. White River State Park in Indianapolis is a must-see for the Indianapolis Zoo. Visit Fort Harrison State Park, less than 15 miles from downtown, and hike the Harrison Trace Trail. Prophetstown State Park near Lafayette offers historic Native American sites, hiking and scenic picnic spots. Pokagon State Park near Kendallville is a popular destination for hiking and biking, and Lake James is perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing.
Chain O’ Lakes State Park, near Fort Wayne, boasts 11 lakes and 10 miles of hiking trails. Cross-country skiing is a fun pastime in winter. Ouabache State Park offers a nature center along the Wabash River. Enjoy fishing and boating at Kunkel Lake or examine exposed fossil beds at Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville. Nearby Lapping Park is a great spot for tennis, basketball, and jogging trails. Lincoln State Park, near Evansville, is a summer favorite of both locals and visitors. Enjoy boating and fishing, hike the James Gentry Trail, or have a picnic in a scenic spot along the Weber Lake Trail.
Brown County State Park
Nestled in the rugged hills south of Indianapolis, is Brown County State Park. This Indiana state park remains the largest in the state. This expansive park, known as the Little Smokies, encompasses almost 16,000 acres of land. The park's narrow ridges and steep slopes were created by ice age glaciers 20,000 years ago.
Although wonderful to visit any time of the year, Fall brings a beautiful array of rich browns and golden yellows to the trees in the park. Enjoy driving along the park's twenty miles of tree-lined roads as you breath in the fresh air.
Lace up your hiking shoes for trekking along the trails or bring your mountain bike for an afternoon of mountain biking. Horseback riding is also a favorite activity in the park.
David Rogers Memorial Park
Built as the first LaGrange County Park, David Rogers Memorial Park honors the memory of this pioneering doctor of northern Indiana. Be sure to visit the former Rogers Children's Home, which preserves the park's former orphanage, and the grave and monument of Dr. Rogers located in the center in the park.
Don't forget to explore the pioneering theme of the park, including the six authentic relocated pioneering log buildings. At the end of August, Howe guests won't want to miss the David Rogers Festival, which is a living history celebration of 1845.
Eagle Creek Reservoir
Featuring over 1,400 acres of water, 3,600 acres of land and every outdoor activity a great outdoorsman can dream up, Eagle Creek Reservoir is among the largest park of its kind in the country. This park, located on the northwest side of Indianapolis, offers a marina, shooting range, over 10 miles of trails and a host of other outdoor activities.
Visitors to the Indianapolis area can experience the reservoir and park, endowed to Purdue University by J.K. Lilly. While the reservoir is an attraction in itself, it has played host to several notable events such as the World Rowing Championships and the Pan American Games, definitely a must see attraction in the Hoosier State.
Fort Harrison State Park
Originally created as a military installation to honor former President Benjamin Harrison, Fort Harrison, located in Indianapolis, now rests on 1,700 of its original 2,500 acres as a state park. Fort Harrison, also known as Fort Ben, was opened in 1996 as a state park after it was demilitarized in 1991. TheFort in Indiana is still home to horse stables, paved trails and a creek for canoeing that runs through the park.
In addition to the numerous outdoor activities available in the park, the Fort Golf Resort is also on-site. The golf resort includes an 18-hole golf course, driving range, resort shop and 3 former officer homes available for tour as state historic sites. Fort Harrison combines nature, outdoor activities and a step back into the history of the Indianapolis region all in one destination.
Fox Memorial Park
Covering 170 acres, Fox Memorial Park is located in northern Indiana in the city of La Porte along Hoelocker Driver, McClung Drive, Truesdell Avenue, and Clear Lake Boulevard. Originally established in 1911 on only 15 acres, Fox Memorial Park is best known for Concerts in the Park from June to August.
Operated by La Porte Department Parks & Recreation, Fox Park features batting cages, walking trails, concessions, Ron Reed Ball Fields, and the 100-acre Clear Lake. Other recreational spots include the Thrills ‘n’ Spills Skate Park, playgrounds, picnic shelters, fishing, and boating.
Jimmy Nash City Park
Offering literally dozens of ways to entertain you and the family, Martinsville is a premier destination southwest of Indianapolis. One of the most exceptional places to visit during your next stay in Martinsville is the Jimmy Nash City Park. You can find it north of downtown, north of State Route 37.
Built in 1942, the Jimmy Nash City Park covers 113 acres. You and the family can enjoy a full day here – there's a pool with two twisty slides, more than two miles of hiking trails, and four tennis courts. The Family Pavilion is ideal for a picnic or cook-out, and the playground is great for kids.
Maple Wood Nature Center
This peaceful nature preserve is an excellent retreat for northern Indiana guests staying near Howe. Enjoy miles of hiking trails winding through northern hardwood forests, wooded swamps, and wet prairies. Finish your visit with a picnic on the center's grounds.
Don't forget to visit the interpretive center, where you can learn more information about the trees, birds, and wildflowers that inhabit this park. If you're visiting during the third weekend of March, don't miss the Maple Syrup Days Festival.
Mounds State Park
A great spot for history buffs, Mounds State Park is found in central Indiana just east of Anderson and northeast of the greater Indianapolis area. The major attractions of Mounds State Park are the 10 mounds created by the prehistoric Adena and Hopewell people.
Be sure to visit the Great Mound, the most popular of the prehistoric earthworks, and take your time in the Visitor Center for some interpretive background information on the area, along with games and a wildlife viewing room.
During your time at Mounds State Park, you may also tour the onsite Historic Bronnenberg House, head to the White River for canoeing and fishing, or take advantage of picnic areas and hiking trails.
Pokagon State Park
Whether it’s a winter wonderland or the warm summer sun you are looking for, it can be found at Pokagon State Park. During the winter months the park plays host to cross country skiing, ice fishing, and tobogganing, while the summer months allow for hiking, fishing, and boating.
The best of both worlds converge on this gorgeous, scenic park nestled in Northern Indiana between the Snow and James lakes. Pokagon State Park is located near the state’s border with Michigan near the town of Howe. Named after the Native Americans who inhabited the lands near Pokagon many years ago, the park is well conserved in its natural beauty for visitors to enjoy the lands where the Potawatomi tribe lived.
From horseback rides to paddle boarding to a picnic at sunset, Pokagon State Park offers year round enjoyment.
Enjoy a day on the lake during your next stay in French Lick. Make plans to visit southern Indiana and head for this charming town which yields easy access to Patoka Lake. You'll find a wealth of excellent recreation at Patoka Lake – tow your own boat, or check out a variety of rentals offered like houseboats, pontoons, and jet skis.
The entirety of Patoka Lake is nearly 8,800 acres – 25,800 acres if you count all the parkland and shore-based recreation areas surrounding the lake. You'll find 10 boat launching ramps, ice fishing during the winter months, and an archery range. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, much of the lake is open for swimming.
Set in central Indiana, Cataract Falls is set just southwest of the Indianapolis metropolitan area – near the city of Brazil in Cloverdale. Divided into the upper and lower falls on Mill Creek, Cataract Falls is Indiana’s largest waterfall – coming in at 86 feet.
The Cataract Falls are located within the Cataract Falls State Recreation Area in Owen County. The park is open year ‘round from dusk until dawn – with office hours from 9 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. The Cataract Falls State Recreation Area and Cagles Mill Lake feature picnic area, a .5-mile nature trail, and plenty of wildlife viewing.
Portage Lakefront Park & Riverwalk
Located on Lake Michigan, the Portage Lakefront Park and Riverwalk offers 57-acres of beautiful beach and waterfront. An enclosed pavilion offers visitors the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes at all times of the year. A great spot for bird watching, experiencing nature and fishing the breakwater provides safety and stability to accommodate all ages.
Northern Indiana’s border with Lake Michigan provides the perfect setting for the Portage Lakefront Park & Riverwalk. The park not only serves to enjoy the beauty of the lake, it also serves as a conservation area to protect the delicate ecosystem of the Indiana Dunes. Abundant wildlife and gorgeous scenery are sure to be found in the city of Portage at this site.
Raccoon Lake State Recreation Area
Nestled into the winding shores of Cecil M. Harden Lake, Raccoon Lake State Recreation Area is located an hour from Indianapolis in Rockville, Indiana. Managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the central Indiana recreation area is a popular swimming, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving destination.
Between sunrise and sunset, divers who show Basic Certification or higher are invited explore the depths of the water kept fresh by Big Raccoon Creek. Hobbyists also find the recreation area’s beaches ideal for metal detecting, while two boat launches draw visitors looking spend a day on the water.