During these difficult days, I have been greatly impressed with the hospitable mindset of our Hoosier state parks and our Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
For many months this spring, during the early onset of COVID-19, parks were open free of charge for anyone who needed to escape the madness and traverse to the wilderness for healing and wellness. Even though payment for entry is now back to normal, the cost of $7 per car, or $50 for an annual pass (good for every state park), is affordable for everyone.
Our state parks, state forests, wildlife areas and preserves are a golden resource for Hoosiers during every season of the year. Add in our national forest, national historic park and national wildlife refuge, and we have an almost unlimited supply of adventure. With more than 600,000 acres of land to explore, you have the opportunity to visit and revisit, always find something new to enjoy.
For those who enjoy hunting and fishing, Indiana has many wildlife areas in which to choose, and many county parks and city/town parks exist, numerous into the thousands.
Many thanks goes out to Mr. Richard Lieber and the early pioneers of the state parks system, who envisioned the parks should be kept as natural as possible, and readily available to enjoy. The first state park to open in Indiana was in 1916, with much construction on subsequent parks during the Great Depression. The goal of having at least one state park within an hour’s drive for every Hoosier was met when Prophetstown State Park, near Lafayette, was established in 2004.
For more than 50 years, I have personally enjoyed many of our state and county parks, mostly by hiking and canoeing. My parents regularly drove to central and southern Indiana from near the Michigan state line, with camping gear and supplies in tow, for weekends of fun with friends and extended family. I passed that same experience to my children while they were growing up.
When you travel to one of our beautiful natural resources, what will you discover as your place of respite and wellness? Could it be the peaceful woods with abundant species of trees? Lakes and channels that connect into a vibrant ecosystem? Waterfalls or rivers? Maybe a cave system, traversed by boat or path? Skiing and shoe showing? Rugged, moderate or easy trails? Gorges, sand dunes or bird sanctuary? Wild flowers? Canyons, open prairies or wildlife? We have it all in our beautiful and prosperous Hoosier state, and all within as easy days drive, or less.
For more information on state and local parks and wildlife areas, visit the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, or IndianaFestivals.org.