Summer. What a wonderful time of year to be outside experiencing the natural resources and countless outdoor recreational opportunities of Indiana.
Camping in state parks, hiking, biking, bird watching and picnicking are just a few pastimes people enjoy during the season. But for me, the greatest outdoors enjoyment of summer is floating on a river.
The Blue, Whitewater, Driftwood, Tippecanoe, Patoka, White, Flatrock, Vermillion and Sugar Creek are just a few of the many rivers and creeks flowing through Indiana’s wild and scenic landscape.
Paddlers flock to these waterways each summer. Each of these rivers offers breathtaking scenery and sporting pursuits many don’t expect to find in the Midwest.
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Canoeing is a leisurely way to enjoy the outdoors and get a little excise at the same time. Indiana is home to many wonderful waters perfect for a summer float trip. Many of our state parks are located adjacent to rivers. Most have local canoe rentals.
Here is a list of five state park paddling destinations you should enjoy:
West Fork of White River
McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana’s first state park, is rarely mentioned as a paddling destination. This is perplexing because the park is bordered by the West Fork of the White River.The West Fork is generally bigger than most paddling streams, but when water conditions are in check, it offers paddling bliss. The West Fork is never crowded, showcases incredible scenery, is wildlife rich and has fantastic fishing.Tippecanoe River State ParkA true Indiana canoeing destination, Tippecanoe State Park even has its own canoe campground and launch ramp.
Located just north of Winamac, this state park focuses on the river. The Tippecanoe is a mild river offering a relaxing float through a rural part of the north central region of the state.
Walleye, white bass and a number of species make the Tippecanoe River a top float fishing destination.
Turkey Run State Park
Mention canoeing and state parks in the same sentence, and most informed paddlers immediately think of Turkey Run.Located just south of Crawfordsville, Turkey Run straddles Sugar Creek, which is perhaps the most scenic yet busiest stretch of paddling water in the state.It is easy to understand why generations of Hoosiers have made Turkey Run a must paddle destination.
The limestone bluffs along much of the shoreline are gorgeous, the foliage is incredible, and the fishing isn’t half bad, either.
Turkey Run State Park offers 213 electric campsites. It also is home to Turkey Run Inn, which offers rooms and cabins. Shades State Park is located just down the road and offers primitive camping.
O’Bannon Woods State Park
The Blue River doesn’t attract the attention it should, because it is located so far south. But this picturesque piece of water is worth the drive. As the Blue winds through the Harrison-Crawford State Forest, you are reminded of what southern Indiana looked like before civilization made its way down river.O’Bannon Woods State Park is nestled inside Harrison-Crawford State Forest. The Blue is home to some of Indiana’s best smallmouth bass fishing. There are 281 electric, 47 horseman, and 25 primitive campsites at O’Bannon.
It is located just miles from Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital.
Ouabache State Park
Ouabache (pronounced Wabash) is how the early French explorers transcribed the Miami Indian word for “river.” The Wabash River flows through the park. When you’re done paddling, be sure to climb the 100-foot tall fire tower to witness a bird’s-eye view of the area.The state park offers electric camping, hiking and biking trails, a pool and boat rentals on Kunkel Lake.See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears occasionally in The Tribune. Send comments to email@example.com.