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Best Camping in Indiana: 10 Places to Check Out This Season

Best Camping in Indiana

These are the best camping spots in Indiana.

The Hoosier State of Indiana does not get a whole lot of love from many outdoor enthusiasts. The state may look rather dull to outsiders, but there are plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities waiting for anyone who knows where to look. Sandy beaches, beautiful rock formations, chances for canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, hiking and more await those that go camping there.

Today we will give you a rundown of some of the best camping spots Indiana has to offer. We are going to focus mainly on state park and federal campgrounds rather than larger, privately-owned KOA RV parks and camping areas. Simply because the camping experience is always better when there is more of a wilderness feel involved.

Any one of these places would make for an incredible short weekend getaway for residents and for people from neighboring states like Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio too.

Charlestown State Park, Charlestown

This southern Indiana park is perfect for anyone looking to spend some time boating on the Ohio River or exploring just over the border into Louisville, Kentucky. I went tent camping here many years ago and had a great experience. It is quiet, shady, and has plenty of picnic tables. The park offers 132 electric sites and 60 sites with full hookups for RV camping. The birdwatching here is excellent, and the park offers many hiking trails. Be sure to check out the trail that leads down to the ruins of the Rose Island theme park. It is slowly being reclaimed by nature and there are some excellent photo opportunities to be found within.

Turkey Run State Park, Marshall

When it comes to Indiana campgrounds, Turkey Run is widely considered THE best in the whole state. You will understand why once you start exploring the rest of this 2,382-acre wilderness paradise. This area truly looks nothing like the rest of the state. Hiking trails snake through and past beautiful ravines, gorges, and rock outcroppings, many of them host beautiful waterfalls in the spring months. The park has several historic cabins and homes, and even a covered bridge over Sugar Creek. As if all that was not enough, the park also hosts horseback riding, a nature center, a swimming pool, tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, and cabin rentals. The campground has 213 electric sites, a camp store and a convenient dump station. Once you go once, you will probably want to come back. The location is convenient too. This park is only about three hours from Chicago and an hour and a half from Indianapolis. Be sure to check out nearby Shades State Park while you are here, it also offers excellent camping.

Indiana Dunes State Park/National Park, Chesterton

This park is a great two-for-one experience on the shores of Lake Michigan. Because you can camp in the state park and then explore Indiana Dunes National Park which is located right next door. There are miles and miles of challenging hiking trails along the lakeshore going up and down the tall dunes between the two parks. In the winter months, cross-country skiing is quite popular. The state park has 140 electric sites offering 50-amp services. The National Park has 66 sites in total at their Dunewood Campground. Campers looking for a more traditional experience will appreciate tent camping at that ground's 13 walk-in sites. The rest of the sites are set up for use by RVs. No matter which of these grounds you choose, this is a great place to spend the weekend cooling off in Lake Michigan, biking, or hiking the tall dunes for some spectacular views of the lake.

Clifty Falls State Park, Madison

If you love hiking and waterfalls, Clifty Falls may be the best campground for you. This park offers tons of fun adventure year-round, but most people like to visit in the spring when the waterfalls are often at their heaviest flow. However, there is something to be said for taking in their frozen majesty in winter too. Many of the trails in Clifty Falls are quite challenging but lead to some truly spectacular views. If you are feeling adventurous, try hiking to the 1852 railroad tunnel. It is a partially completed railway tunnel that was never completed. Now it serves as a home for bats to hibernate during the long winter months. The park also has tennis courts, a swimming pool, and waterslide for the kids. They have 106 electric sites and 63 non-electric sites available.

Brown County State Park, Nashville

At a staggering 15,770 acres, Brown County State Park is Indiana's largest. As a result, it is also one of the most popular recreation areas in the state too. Camping opportunities are plentiful as a result. There are over 500 electric campsites across the multiple campgrounds and more than 100 non-electric sites. This is a good option for fishermen since the park borders the 3,100-acre Lake Monroe. Bass, crappie, bluegill, walleye, and crappie are plentiful there. This park also offers swimming pools, plentiful hiking trails, and some of the best mountain biking trails in the state. This park is conveniently located just outside of Bloomington and less than an hour from Indianapolis.

McCormick's Creek State Park, Spencer

The oldest state park in Indiana celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. The hiking trails are rugged, but beautiful, taking visitors through deep, creek-filled ravines and past beautiful waterfalls. This park is also host to a nature center, horseback riding opportunities, tennis courts, and plenty of nice places for a picnic. The park has a decent number of campsites too. There are 32 primitive sites and 189 electric sites just waiting for your visit.

Hoosier National Forest, English

The Hoosier National Forest has a little bit of everything that outdoor enthusiasts can love. This place has a staggering 266 miles of hiking trails that will take you through beautiful gorges and old stands of timber. Many of them are open to mountain biking and horseback too. Be sure to check out the Hemlock Cliffs Trail for some spectacular views or the Birdseye Trail for a 12-mile round trip challenge. If hiking is not your thing, no worries, Patoka Lake's waters beckon anglers with big largemouth and walleye. In the fall months, the deer hunting is excellent. If you are looking for somewhere to camp for free, be sure to check out Hoosier's dispersed and backcountry camping opportunities. For those who do not want to rough it that much, there are plenty of developed, pet-friendly campgrounds perfect for RV users.

Pokagon State Park, Angola

At 1,250 acres, this park is a little smaller than some of the others on this list. Pokagon has convenient access to several lakes that were carved by glaciers tens of thousands of years ago. It makes the park a popular spot to setup for fishermen. If you do not own a watercraft of your own, the park rents pontoon boats, paddleboats, and rowboats. The park is also home to several light to moderate hiking trails that will take you through rolling grassland fields and old stands of hardwoods. This park also has a historic inn for those who do not like to rough it. For the rest of us, there are 200 electric sites and 73 non-electric sites. Kids will love the toboggan slide and rentals.

Salamonie River State Forest, Wabash

This smaller park flies under the radar a bit in the north-central part of the state. Part of the reason it is lesser known is probably because it is only 850 acres. The people who do know about it enjoy the park's trails, which take visitors through a variety of terrain. There are some beautiful waterfalls to be found here. Horseback riding is also extremely popular in this park. Fishermen should check out Hominy Ridge Lake. It may only be four acres, but a chance at a big bluegill, catfish or bass is possible. There is only one campground here and it is a primitive one with sites doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Get there early if you want one.

Tippecanoe River State Park, Winamac

If you are looking for a paddler's paradise, look no further. This northern Indiana park is situated on the Tippecanoe River and you will be treated to miles of unspoiled wilderness while paddling through the park's boundaries. There are liveries in the area that will rent you equipment if you do not own your own. For those who hate the water, check out the park's 23 miles of hiking trails. Tippecanoe has rental cabins available and plenty of campsites to go around. If you are a horse owner, this is the park for you. Tippecanoe has 56 primitive sites specifically for use with horses. There are also 10 campsites for canoe camping, and 112 electric sites. No matter what style you enjoy, there is something for everyone in this lesser-known park.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

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Best Camping in Indiana: 10 Places to Check Out This Season