National Forests & State Parks
There’s no better way to experience all four seasons than by getting outdoors, surrounded by nature. Southern Indiana is home to thousands of acres of National Forests and State Parks in our region, with ample opportunity for hiking, fishing, birding, camping, and exploring.
Hoosier National Forest is 203,000 acres with more than 260 miles of trails to explore, multiple campgrounds, and two rentable cabins. To the south, Harrison Crawford State Forest is an idyllic destination for hiking, with 20 marked trails throughout the forest ranging from less than a mile to 25 miles in length.
Those interested in birding should take a trip to Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, known for hosting more than 260 species of birds in its 8,000-acre network of shallow water wetlands, prairie, and levees. For a combination of land and sea, Patoka Lake has 26,000 acres to explore. The park hosts a full calendar of educational programming about the environment and outdoor skills, while the 8,800 acre lake provides habitat for freshwater jellyfish, bald eagle nesting sites, River otters, and osprey, plus all manner of water recreation.
Spring Mill State Park is a mesh of nature and culture. Home to the Twin Caves and their springs of never-freezing water, early settlers of the 1800s started a mill that could be open year-round. Today, visitors to Spring Mill State Park can explore the restored Pioneer Village, take a boat tour through Twin Caves, stop in the nature center, or learn about the life and legacy of local astronaut Gus Grissom at the Gus Grissom Memorial Museum.
Whether you want a leisurely stroll or a rigorous hike, these gorgeous forests and parks are the perfect way to explore the region, catch a breath of fresh air, and learn a bit more about Southern Indiana’s roots.