What a glorious calendar that reveals July 4th falling on a Monday, leaving us all in a position of a 3-day-weekend. Oh freedom, indeed! What to do with those 3 days becomes the next question. While Indiana may not be the outdoor mecca that other states offer, it has quite the offering for the camper, camper-wannabe, or wherever else you may fall on the spectrum.
If you consider yourself a “car camper” (someone who likes to park onsite or has a camper) or are just putting your feet in the camping world, there are many great parks to take advantage of. Most sites are available for a small fee but allow you the opportunity to pull your car in and unload on site. You can also enjoy the advantage of storing food and other environment sensitive items without fear of animals or rain. Bathrooms (with showers!) also typically to be available with these sites, but you will want to check with the specific park you choose.
McCormick’s Creek State Park is an excellent choice. Located just southwest of Indy (and slightly northwest of Bloomington), McCormick’s Creek is nestled in the hills and greenery of Southern Indiana. The Park has many amenities, including horses/horse trails, bike and hiking paths, a nature center, pool, recreation center, and more, all under a beautiful canopy of trees; it is not hard to find a camping site with a vast space of wooded area behind it. For those not quite ready to rough it, the park also offers cabins and an inn.
Another great choice is Starve Hollow State Recreation Area. Starve Hollow is also located south of Indianapolis, in Vallonia, Indiana. It is a local favorite, but draws visitors from all over the state and tends to be fairly calm and peaceful. Starve Hollow lake is a central feature and provides a great view for campers, as well as boating and fishing. Electric and non-electric sites are available, as well as running water and bathrooms.
For a more primitive experience (carrying all your supplies on your back, making use of a more “natural” bathroom, cooking by fire, etc.) check out Morgan-Monroe State Forest. The forest is just south of Indy on State Road 37; follow signs for entry.
The forest is dense and beautiful, full of those things you most hope for when retreating to nature. Sites are located all along the hiking trail, though you may have to hunt to look for them. About a 15 minute hike in will reveal a great spot on a hill, shaded by pine trees, the floor of the forest laden with needles which creates a bit of a soft carpet. You can have as many as 20 people, depending on sleeping arrangements, staying here and it is secluded enough from the trail that you won’t be disturbed by passersby.
The forest contains several lakes for exploring on day hikes. Fellow visitors–hikers and campers alike–tend to be very friendly. Note: take out whatever you take in. Leave no trace. This is definitely a favorite among locals and everyone makes a good effort to keep it healthy.
One thing to keep in mind is that you may not be the only one who decides to go camping for the holiday. You will, however, greatly enjoy life at a slower pace. So go ahead! Celebrate your independence with more than just fireworks. Get out and enjoy your time away; you may find you have a harder time than usual going back to work on Tuesday.