Indiana is known mostly for basketball and the Indy500, but locals know a secret. Beyond the vast cornfields and between the urban areas lies a huge network of beautiful nature and serenity. With over 24 state parks in Indiana, you are never more than an hour’s drive from impressive landscapes, historical landmarks, and excellent campgrounds ready to welcome you and your family.
Know Before You Go
The Indiana State Parks system is run primarily off the entrance and other permit fees that it collects throughout the year. The fees for entry are inexpensive, however you may have another option if you are planning to visit several state parks on one trip or if you visit often in any given calendar year.
You can buy permits and entrance passes online that last for the entire year at a reasonable rate. Fishermen will need a state license before they cast their reels. And boaters (motorized or just paddle) will also need to have a permit to operate on any of the lakes or reservoirs in the state park system.
Sign up for the Indiana State Nature Passport online to make the most of your time exploring the great Indiana outdoors. This free program covers more than 80 outdoor locations to visit. Check in once you arrive to start earning towards prizes like sunglasses, a hat, or even a backpack. For Indiana locals or those in nearby states, this is an excellent program to encourage a deeper dive into the landscape.
The Best Indiana State Parks for RV Camping
Ready to get down and dirty camping in the best Indiana state parks? Here are some of the best state parks across Indiana to visit first.
Often voted the number one best Indiana state park, Turkey Run will surprise you with its sandstone cliffs, stunning hiking trails, and quiet groves of hemlock trees. This is the Midwest at its finest.
Rent a kayak or canoe to paddle the iconic Sugar Creek. For those hoping to relax without any effort, you can even go tubing here and float peacefully downstream. But Turkey Run’s main attraction is the excellent hiking trails.
Most trails require descending 70 steps to the suspension bridge that will take you across to Rocky Hollow-Falls Canyon Nature Preserve. Here you’ll find the deep canyons that make Turkey Run State Park an unforgettable place to camp and some of the last remains of the original forest that covered all of Indiana.
RV’ers can have their pick of 213 electric campsites in the park that range from sunny to shaded. They do fill up quickly, so plan to reserve early, especially for weekends. For additional space, Turkey Run Canoe and Camping has additional campgrounds and is just down the road.
Located in Southeast Indiana, Clifty Falls State Park is named for one of the large waterfalls in this gorgeous park. Take the Four Waterfall Challenge and hike a 4-mile loop to see Clifty Falls, Little Clifty Falls, Tunnel Falls, and Hoffman falls on one memorable hike. Snap photographs of the checkpoints along the way and show your proof at the nature center to receive a special Challenge sticker to commemorate the experience.
These falls change dramatically with the seasons and the weather. Visit in the winter to see these falls frozen still and gleaming in the sunshine. Spring is the other best time to visit as the snow melts and extra rainfall swells the waterfalls into roaring, high volume falls.
Other times of the year will see the falls slow to a more delicate misty stream or somewhere in between. Hike to see the waterfalls of course, but the canyon hikes also have their own allure. While most trails are short, the terrain offers a good challenge for hikers of all levels.
When the hiking is through, retire to one of 106 electric sites that are perfect for RVs. In summer, the park has a swimming pool with a waterslide to help you cool off and have a different kind of outdoor fun.
Brown County State Park
Many people refer to Brown County State Park as the Little Smokies because the area resembles the Great Smoky Mountains. Here, expect to find 16,000 acres of hills, ridges, and foggy ravines laid out before you. The very best time to visit is in the fall when these hills are alive with the fiery foliage of autumn. Take in the picture perfect views along the 20 miles of tree-lined park roads that draw visitors from all around.
Mountain bikers also take note! Bike Magazine has named the mountain bike trails in Brown County as some of the best trails in the state and even the continent! There are plenty of trails to hike for those who are interested. Climb the 90-foot-tall fire tower to get some of the best views the park has to offer.
Make yourself comfortable in one of the 400 electric sites within the park. If you’re bringing in an RV or towing a trailer, you must use the west entrance due to clearance and weight restrictions at the north entrance. And once you get comfortable at camp, make a brief excursion to the nearby town of Nashville, Indiana for cute eateries, arts and crafts, unique shopping, and entertainment.
McCormick’s Creek State Park
Indiana’s first state park is best known for its scenic landscape. Here you can find yourself hiking through limestone canyons, past scenic waterfalls, and alongside a lovely flowing creek. The forest trees are as diverse as the native wildflowers in spring. The best way to take it all in is with a leisurely stroll down the more than 10 miles of hiking trails through the park. The trails are generally easy to moderate and extremely well marked for even the youngest campers to enjoy.
In the summer, take in cultural events and shows at the park amphitheater or enjoy some fishing in the nearby White River. For a fun experience for everyone, grab your headlights and head to Wolf Cave to explore. It takes around 10 minutes to get to the other side of the cave and can get pretty wet inside, especially after large rainfall.
The campground at McCormick’s Creek State Park has 189 electric sites and a dumping station to make it very easy to set up and plug in an RV or trailer. You can reserve a spot online through Reserve America to ensure your place in this fun, family-friendly state park.
Indiana Dunes State Park
Easily one of the best state parks in northern Indiana, Indiana Dunes State Park has more than 2,000 acres including 3 miles of beach along Lake Michigan. Real sand beach! Bring the whole family for the kind of vacation you don’t normally find this far inland, but unfortunately no dogs are allowed on the beach.
The sand dunes that give the park its name stretch up to 200 feet in the air. If you think you can handle it, try the three dune challenge that has you climb the three tallest sand dunes. You’ll cover more than 550 feet of elevation gain in just a mile and a half. Don’t forget to claim your challenge sticker once you’ve completed it.
Stay at one of the 140 50 amp electric sites in the park. And if you’re looking for more to do — you don’t have to look much further. Directly to the east and west of the park is Indiana Dunes National Park, an even larger natural area with more beach, more wooded hiking trails, and generally just more to explore in this interesting landscape.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to the best Indiana state parks for RV camping. Now all that’s left to do is to get an RV rental!
Home on the Road in Indiana
Indiana has no shortage of beautiful natural areas stretching across this often overlooked state. When you’re ready to see a different side of the Midwest than flat farmland, there is no better way to take in the sights than in an RV. Bring a bit of home to the canyons and forest in a spacious, easy-to-drive RV rental from Cruise America.
Conveniently located in the heart of Indiana just north of Indianapolis, you can visit or make a reservation online today to begin your trip. Hit the road in style and with the security of the Cruise America service team at your service 24/7 while you hike, bike, and paddle your way across this beautiful state.