100 Years of Indiana State Parks

To celebrate Indiana’s 100th birthday in 1916, citizens were gifted the Indiana State Parks system. A 100 years later, our state parks are some of the finest in the nation and serve millions of visitors per year.

Indiana's State Parks offer citizens so many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, picnicking and so many more pastimes are available to visitors. With minimal entrance fees, state parks offer affordable recreation for families from all walks of life.

Colonel Richard Lieber is credited as the father of the Indiana State Park System. In the book “Hoosiers and the American Story,” Lieber is quoted as saying, “Our parks and preserves are not mere picnicking places. They are rich storehouses of memories and reveries. They are guides and counsels to the weary and faltering in spirit. They are bearers of wonderful tales to him who will listen; a solace to the aged and an inspiration to the young.”

This week, the Indiana General Assembly passed a concurrent resolution honoring the 100th anniversary of the Indiana State Parks system. The resolution recognized State Parks for “contributions to the health, recreation, and outdoor education of Indiana’s citizens and guests, and its commitment to the conservation of the State of Indiana’s unique natural and cultural resources held in trust in those state parks.”

According to a press release issued by the DNR, State Parks division director Dan Bortner said, “I am very appreciative of the General Assembly taking time out of its busy schedule to recognize the partnership that began a century ago when they created the Indiana State Parks system. While time has passed, the affection Hoosiers have for these special places has not, and that was evidenced by the warm reception we experienced today.”

I have so many precious memories from time spent at Indiana State Parks. I caught my first largemouth bass from the boat ramp at Potato Creek State Park. My love affair with paddling canoes began with a trip down Sugar Creek while camping at Turkey Run State Park. Running down the steep dunes at the Indiana Dunes State Park, hoping to make it all the way to the water without tumbling face first into the sand from too much speed. Wildlife watching with my young daughters at O’Bannon Woods State Park helped me instill an appreciation of nature in my children.

Camping is the highlight of most of these properties, but each state park has its own special attributes and attractions. Visitors can expect each park to be held to the highest standards of cleanliness, accessibility and amenities. Tent campers and RV enthusiasts will find Indiana State Parks welcoming and enjoyable.

With incredible state parks spread all across the state, it can be difficult to distinguish a few as superior to the rest, but there are some very unique state parks in Indiana. One of Indiana’s premier state parks is the Indiana Dunes. It is located on Lake Michigan and features an unparalleled beach along the lakeshore. The park offers miles trails through the dunes and costal habitat. Indiana Dunes State Park is truly a unique destination that draws people from all over the country.

Indiana is often called a fly-over state, leaving folks from the coasts to wonder why they would want to visit. One trip to any of our scenic and accommodating state parks will answer that question, and will surely leave camping enthusiasts eager to explore more of Indiana’s amazing state parks.

For more information or to make reservations for camping at an Indiana State Park, visit http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/