People often associate flat, wide-open prairies and farmland with the Midwest. However, Indiana’s Brown County State Park defies those stereotypes with 16,000 acres of green hills, ridges, and dense forest. It’s often referred to as the “Little Smokies” because of how closely it resembles the Great Smoky Mountains.
Just over an hour south of Indianapolis and 1.5 hours from Louisville, Kentucky, the area is an ideal destination for RV camping near Brown County State Park. The small, bustling artist community of Nashville, Indiana, is also just a few miles away.
With four distinct seasons and an abundance of things to do in Brown County State Park, one of the best ways to take advantage of it all is renting an RV.
Brown County State Park Facts
Indiana isn’t widely known for being rugged, so it should come as no surprise that some Brown County State Park facts go against pre-conceived Midwest notions.
Brown County State Park was established in 1929 by Brown County commissioners.
Brown County is Indiana’s largest state park at 15,776 acres.
Much of the park’s landscape was formed by the melting of glaciers.
Rare, endangered yellowwood trees are native to the park.
Wildlife species that call the park home include wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and timber rattlesnakes.
Abe Martin Lodge is named the fictional character Abe Martin, who was created by humorist-cartoonist Kin Hubbard.
Best Brown County State Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
Whether you prefer rustic camping or you’re more of a “glamper,” you’ll find a perfect fit among RV parks near Brown County State Park.
Brown County Campground
Amenities: If the goal is to try Brown County State Park RV camping, why not camp inside the park? Staying at one of the Brown County State Park RV sites lets you relax and connect with nature.
Many of the sites within the campground are pet-friendly. They offer electricity hookups, water fill stations, BBQ grills, picnic tables, shower facilities, and dump stations, plus easy access to convenience stores.
Capacity: 488 campsites across several Brown County State Park RV campgrounds
Price: Starting at $23 per night
More information: Brown County Campground
Brown County / Nashville KOA
Amenities: Brown County State Park RV camping doesn’t get much more scenic than this. The pet-friendly campsite is heavily wooded and surrounded by rolling hills, giving campers a sense of seclusion. Yet, dozens of amenities let guests feel right at home.
Each site has cable and Wi-Fi, plus there’s a large pool, basketball court, walking path, and dog park. The state park and Salt Creek Golf Retreat are across the street, and charming Nashville is just two miles away. Please note that this Brown County State Park RV campground is closed from November to March.
Capacity: 43 campsites, including 13 exclusively for monthly stays
Price: Starting at $72 per night
More information: Brown County / Nashville KOA
Friends O’ Mine Campground
Amenities: Formerly called Westward Ho Campground, Friends O’ Mine is under new management as of May 2020. It’s unique among RV parks near Brown County State Park because it has a private fishing lake, the four-acre catch-and-release Small Fry Lake. Note that swimming isn’t permitted, but Friends O’ Mine does have a pool.
Guests also have access to Hidden Fairy Trail, a lakeside walking path, as well as a camp store. All sites have fire rings and picnic tables, and there are 24-hour shower facilities. The award-winning Brown County Winery is across the street, and the state park is just three miles away.
Capacity: 91 campsites
Price: Starting at $45
More information: Brown County’s Friends O’ Mine Campground & Cabins
Bill Monroe’s Music Park & Campground
Amenities: At 55 acres, Bill Monroe’s is one of the largest places for RV camping near Brown County State Park. As the name implies, it’s also known for hosting several bluegrass festivals throughout the year.
Whether or not you come for a music festival, Bill Monroe’s offers a lengthy list of amenities. The campground’s focal point is Pastor Baggett Lake, which guests can fish (catch-and-release only) or explore in non-motorized boats. There’s a playground, laundry facility, shower house, camp store, water hydrants, and dump stations. Visitors also get free admission to the onsite museum and gift shop.
Capacity: 400 campsites. Note that in the off-season (November - March), this site offers dry sites only.
Price: Starting at $35 per night
More information: Bill Monroe’s Music Park & Campground
eXplore Brown County Campground
Amenities: For an adventurous stay while you’re RV camping in Brown County State Park, consider eXplore. The park offers hiking and mountain biking trails, zipline tours, paintball and arrow tag, u-drive ATV tours, and a lake for canoeing and catch-and-release fishing.
All RV campsites are within walking distance of the showers and restrooms. There’s also a playground and shaded picnic shelters throughout eXplore. Game rentals, including cornhole and horseshoes, are available for visitors to the campground.
Capacity: 16 campsites (6 with full hookups). Note that water isn’t provided from November through April, but fill hydrants are accessible year-round.
Price: Starting at $25
More information: eXplore Brown County Campground
Best Time To Visit Brown County State Park for RV Camping
Brown County State Park offers year-round opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxing and taking in the scenery. Summer and fall are the most popular seasons, but there’s no shortage of activities regardless of when you choose to visit.
Although temperatures typically hover just above freezing, there are still plenty of things to do in Brown County State Park in the winter. The Department of Natural Resources hosts its Winter Hike Series throughout the season. You can also try snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, or ice fishing in Ogle Lake or Lake Strahl.
Winters in Brown County are cold! Temperatures can range from 22 degrees to 54 degrees. While this season can be icy, the park’s snowfall and precipitation are relatively mild. Snowfall in Brown County State Park peaks at 6.7 inches in January.
As snow melts, Brown County State Park comes to life. The trees bloom, wildlife species start to stretch their legs, and there’s a distinct excitement in the air. Hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, and boating are all popular activities for people with an RV rental for Brown County State Park.
Spring is the rainiest season, with an average of five inches of rainfall. In the later spring months, rainfall begins to decrease, with as little as three inches in August. Temperatures are mild, averaging in the 50s in March and steadily warming to the mid-70s by May.
Brown County State Park RV camping is popular in the summer, so crowds are generally heavier. The weather is ideal, with typical daytime highs in the 80s and overnight lows in the 60s. Only a few days each year top 90 degrees. The region generally gets little rain in the summer, although it can be relatively humid.
All park facilities are open in the summer so that visitors can take advantage of trail and pony rides at the Saddle Barn, lighted tennis courts, an Olympic-sized outdoor pool, and picnic shelters and playgrounds.
Many people consider autumn the best time to visit Brown County State Park, claiming it’s one of the best spots to see fall foliage in the Midwest. There’s even a dedicated Brown County Leaf Cam to monitor the color change!
Peak color is typically in October, although it can be as early as late September or as late as November. Crowds generally are at their highest in the park in October. Fall visitors can expect mild temperatures, with average highs in the 50s and 60s and lows in the 30s and 40s.
Things To Do in Brown County State Park
Brown County State Park offers a wide range of activities ranging from relaxing to adrenaline-pumping.
Seven Vista Challenge - This is a popular activity for many people with an RV rental for Brown County State Park. The park has seven roadside vistas where you can stop and see panoramic forest views. Be sure to snap a photo in each of the life-size picture frames.
Hiking - There are over 18 miles of trails in the park, ranging from easy to strenuous. The leisurely Ogle Lake Trail and 2.2-mile Fire Tower trails are musts.
Horseback riding - With 70-plus miles of trails and options for guided rides or pony rides year-round, there’s something for every horse lover in the park.
Nature Center - The Park Nature Center offers interactive exhibits, guided family-friendly hikes, and nature-focused events.
Photography - Brown County State Park offers many scenic areas to take photos. You may even come across some wildlife while camping.
Brown County State Park Hiking Trails
Brown County State Park boasts a network of hiking trails that cater to hikers of all skill levels, making it a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Here are some of the best hiking trails that showcase the park's natural beauty:
1. Hesitation Point Trail and the West Lookout Trail
These interconnected trails offer a relatively short but rewarding hike for those seeking stunning vistas of the park's landscape. The Hesitation Point Trail leads you through a lush forested area and ascends to the Hesitation Point Overlook, which provides breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Continuing on Trail #8, also known as the West Lookout Trail, will lead you to another fantastic overlook where you can admire the vibrant fall foliage or a tranquil sunset.
2. Ogle Lake Trail
For a leisurely hike that winds around the picturesque Ogle Lake, the Ogle Lake Trail is an excellent choice. This trail is perfect for families and novice hikers, offering a peaceful stroll through woodlands and meadows. As you hike, you'll be treated to glimpses of the serene lake, making it a tranquil setting for picnicking and wildlife watching. The Ogle Lake Trail is especially enchanting in the fall when the trees surrounding the lake burst into an array of autumn colors.
3. Strahl Lake Trail
If you're looking for a moderate hike that combines beautiful forested terrain with a scenic lake view, Trail #3, also known as the Strahl Lake Trail, is a great option. This trail takes you through woodlands and along the shores of Strahl Lake. The reflective waters of the lake offer an opportunity for quiet contemplation and photography, particularly during the fall when the leaves are at their most vibrant.
4. The Fire Tower Trail
For a more challenging hiking experience, the Fire Tower Trail is a must. This trail takes you to one of the highest points in the park and rewards your effort with breathtaking panoramic views. The highlight of the trail is the Fire Tower itself, which you can climb for an even more spectacular vantage point. During the fall, this trail becomes an explosion of color, with the surrounding forest turning into a vibrant tapestry.
5. The Taylor Ridge Trail
For seasoned hikers seeking a rugged and secluded adventure, the Taylor Ridge Trail offers a more remote and challenging experience. This trail takes you through dense forests and features steep ascents and descents, making it a thrilling trek. The payoff is solitude and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the wilderness. In the fall, the trail is particularly stunning, with the changing leaves providing a rich backdrop to your journey.
Remember to check trail conditions and obtain maps or information at the park's visitor center before hiking. Whether you're seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging backcountry adventure, Brown County State Park's hiking trails provide an array of options to explore the park's natural beauty year-round, with autumn being an especially magical time to hit the trails.
Fall Foliage Viewing
Nestled in the heart of Indiana, Brown County State Park stands as a vibrant testament to the breathtaking beauty of autumn. As the leaves transform from their vibrant greens to a mesmerizing palette of reds, oranges, and yellows, this park becomes a hot spot for fall foliage lovers from all around the region. With its rich history, diverse ecosystems, and abundant recreational opportunities, Brown County State Park offers an unparalleled autumn experience. When you go Brown County State Park camping, be sure to visit during the fall to take in the spectacular autumnal colors.
Tips on Visiting Brown County State Park
If you’re ready to pack up your RV and take a road trip to Brown County State Park, great! There are just a few things to know before you do.
GPS sometimes directs visitors to the wrong campsites. Stop by the park office if in doubt.
RVs and vehicles with trailers are required to use the west entrance to avoid the low-clearance, low-weight limit historic covered bridge at the north entrance.
May is typically the rainiest month to visit, and February is the least rainy.
Fishing in both Ogle and Strahl Lakes requires a state fishing license, which can be purchased at the park office. While visitors can fish all year, the roads to both lakes are sometimes inaccessible due to heavy snowfall.
For those interested in an RV rental, Brown County State Park campgrounds are open year-round, but most have reduced services during winter.
RV Rental for Brown County State Park
Photo Credit: Instagram User @f_o_n_z
What better way to enjoy Brown County’s natural beauty and outdoor recreation than from the comfort of a Cruise America RV? RV camping near Brown County State Park allows you to explore everything the area has to offer at your leisure, without sacrificing any creature comforts.
Contact Cruise America 24/7 to find out which pet-friendly RVs are most suitable for a trip to Brown County State Park. With over 100 convenient rental locations throughout North America, it’s fast and simple to pick up your dream camper. Happy road-tripping!