Brown County State Park is Indiana’s largest state park and its acres are full of activities. If you want to know just what you can get up to in Brown County State Park, this post is going to help you find out.
All You Need To Know About Brown County State Park, Indiana
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My husband, Jack, and I have tried to visit Brown County State Park several times over the many years we have lived in Indiana, but something always seemed to come up that would cause us to cancel our trip. Finally, early last summer, we were able to spend three nights and two whole days exploring Indiana’s largest state park.
In this post, I am going to share what we got up to during our time in the park and end with a list of additional activities available in Brown County State Park.
Hike The Trails
Brown County State Park has a dozen trails of various lengths, meaning there is a trail for everyone regardless of hiking ability.
We hiked a good portion of Brown County State Park’s hiking trails during our stay. Our favorite hike by far was the one where we combined several different trails, including the one that takes you through Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve and around Ogle lake.
It took us several hours to complete, but we did frequently stop to take in the scenery. We saw so many cool things on the hike that it was tough picking which photos to share. In the end, I picked a few highlights, such as the heart-shaped log, the toad that blended into the ground cover so well that I almost stepped on him, and the incredible rays of sunshine bursting through the forest.
Visit The Nature Center
The nature center isn’t large, but it is full of educational displays for all ages; definitely take the time to visit if you should go to the park.
I learned a lot about Indiana from visiting the Brown County State Park nature center. For instance, I had no idea our State animal was a bison!
Take In The Views At Each Of The Seven Vistas
You don’t have to hike to enjoy the views at the park’s vistas. Most have several parking spots right in front of them, making the views accessible to all.
Without even knowing Brown County State Park’s nickname, I turned to Jack after taking in the views at the first of 7 vistas and said, “Man, I feel like I am in the Smokey Mountains.” It turns out the park’s nickname is “Little Smokies”.
Stay for Sunset
If you can only do one thing at the park, take in a vista sunset–they are incredible! Which vista you will need to be at for the best view will depend on the time of year you visit, so make sure to go into the visitor center and ask a park ranger where they think will be the best spot to watch it during your stay.
Make sure to bring a blanket to sit on as you wait for the evening show in the sky. Here is our favorite kind of blanket for laying on the grass; we keep one in our trunk at all times. It’s super handy for so much more than picnics.
The Brown County State Park campground books up fast during the prime camping season so book early. We booked roughly a month and a half in advance and felt extremely blessed to get one of the very last campsites, even if it wasn’t an ideal one. Our neighbors we very close on either side, there were no trees, and in order to park our trailer, my husband had to ask the campers across the road from us to move their vehicle out of the way.
This is not how all the spots in the park are. We did our usual campground walk and found out that the loop called Raccoon Ridge Campground has wooded sites with much more room and privacy.
Learn from us; book several months in advance and book a site in the Raccoon Ridge Campground. That said, we still had a great time camping. People were friendly, the grounds were well taken care of, the bathrooms were clean, and the sites were decently level.
You might notice that you can either see a gravity recliner or see me sitting in one in every picture of our campsite. We love how comfortable and versatile these chairs are. You can sit upright around a campfire or recline and read a book in the shade. They are also great for napping. Ours are very similar to this set and even though they do take up a fair amount of storage space in our travel trailer, we wouldn’t camp without them. They are a great gift for campers.
See The Views From The Lookout Towers
There are two lookout towers that you can climb up in within the park: North and West.
We didn’t get to the North Tower, but we did take a hike to the West Tower and enjoyed the valleys’ views through its windows.
That cup in my hands in the bottom photo is my current favorite travel mug that keeps my coffee hot for hours and my sweet tea cold all day. Other benefits are its reasonable price and the fact that I can fit it easily into the cupholders in my daypack for hiking.
More Activities To Enjoy Inside Of Brown County State Park
Ride the miles of mountain biking trails
This is something we are planning to come back to the park to do. The park has 25 miles of world-class mountain biking trails that are said to be some of the best in Indiana.
Stay at Abe Lincoln Lodge
The lodge includes a small indoor water park and a restaurant.
Go for a swim in the Olympic sized pool (additional cost) (inquire about times)
It opens Memorial Day weekend and closes Labor Day weekend.
Take your horse for a ride on the trails or take a paid guided ride on one
Brown County State Park has over 70 miles of horse trails, plus a horseman campground.
Climb the 90 Foot Fire Tower (not always open, inquire about times)
We wanted to do this, but it wasn’t open for climbing during our stay. Hopefully it will be the next time we visit.
Rent a shelter for a family get together
The park has a total of eight shelters that can be reserved for a fee.
Enjoy fishing in the summer
Non-motorized boats are allowed on Ogle Lake, such as kayaks or canoes. However, on our hike around the lake, all the people fishing were fishing from the shoreline.
Go ice fishing in winter.
Weather permitting, you can ice-fish in Brown County State Park, although I couldn’t find a lot of information on this activity.
Play a round of tennis
The park has two tennis courts that are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Take the kids to the playground
There are playgrounds for the kids near several of the shelters as well as in the campground loops.
Are you looking for an alternative to busy and expensive campgrounds and one-night Walmart stops on the way to your destination? Check out our post about our first time using Boondockers Welcome.