Tag Archives: camping



O’Bannon Woods State Park

7234 Old Forest Road SW, Corydon

Why We Love It: Just outside of Corydon, O’Bannon is our current go-to. Campsites are shaded and never overcrowded, and there’s a connected horse campground. There are plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails as well as a rustic pioneer village with a still-functional hay press that, on certain days, is powered by the park’s two resident oxen. The nature center houses lots of live reptiles and amphibians, and often a park ranger will allow folks to meet a snake or two. The park is also home to a fantastic pool and splash park with two huge water slides and a separate toddler pool. Pool admission is just a few dollars and the attendant is happy to stamp your hand so that you can come in and out throughout the day.

Spring Mill State Park

3333 State Road 60 E, Mitchell

Why We Love It: The campground at Spring Mill offers a variety of sites, from sunny and grassy to completely wooded, with an area of its own for primitive camping. Just outside the campground is an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a diving area. This park is one of our favorite places to hike and explore; we love the trails, the caves and the creeks. There’s a beautiful stone inn with a restaurant, a nature center and, near the front of the park, a memorial to astronaut Gus Grissom with space capsule on display. But our favorite part about visiting this park is certainly the pioneer village. It’s big, picturesque and fascinating to tour, complete with working grist mill, saw mill and pioneer museum.

Charlestown State Park

12500 IN-62, Charlestown

Why We Love It: Charlestown offers a sufficient campground and good trails for hiking, some with great views of the river. We always enjoy hiking down to the entrance to Rose Island, the site of the old, abandoned amusement park. But what we like best about camping in Charlestown is the proximity to our home in Henryville. Let’s say we have a fairly open weekend but an important local commitment on Saturday afternoon. The location allows us to fit in both.




Eli, Molly and Brahm pose in front of the old grist mill while on a camping trip at Spring Mill State Park.

By Adam & Kristin Kleinert

We love camping. We grew up enjoying camping trips with our families, and we’ve camped with our own crew since our eldest was just a few months old. We don’t go as often as we’d prefer, but it’s been a cherished family pastime and, now that we think about it, a catalyst for family bonding.

At the risk of sounding overly nostalgic, camping has been a venue for really getting to know our children. A number of factors play into this occurrence, beginning simply with the act of leaving our home and setting up “new” quarters together. The scarcity of electronics (sometimes, heaven forbid, even phone service) coupled with the absence of the usual chores that hang over our heads at home allow our natural focus to shift. We listen to one another, we chat and discuss, we philosophize. Giggles are plentiful and there’s lots of time to be silly.

In addition, there’s the slight sense of adventure. While we’re not scaling cliffs and battling fierce animals, we do spend a great deal of our time hiking, exploring and discovering. Over the years, we’ve seen so many beautiful trails and vistas, gorgeous creeks and streams, fascinating caves and historical sites. The kids have built fairy houses, climbed rocks, watched birds and chipmunks, and petted snakes and toads. We’ve judged contests over who jumps the highest and runs the fastest. We’ve huddled together during downpours and found our way back to camp after taking long detours on the wrong trail. While our experiences aren’t exactly Homer’s Odyssey, they’re our own adventures, and we love that we enjoyed them together.

Campgrounds in and of themselves are like little neighborhoods existing in a separate time. Pace of life is slower, everyone is friendly and it’s perfectly ordinary to see your neighbor carrying a toothbrush and shower supplies as they pass you on their way to the bathhouse. It’s in these magical spaces that all four of our kids learned to build a fire, ride bikes without training wheels and make fast friends with complete strangers. We seem to behave a bit differently, needing much less stimulation than when we’re at home. For instance, there’s a mini chess/checkers game the kids’ grandmother keeps in her camper; the magnetic travel-kind, nothing special. Our kids and their cousins adore playing this game at the picnic tables in the campgrounds, to a point where they actually fight over who gets to take on the winner of each round. This would never happen at home.

When we get away from the hustle and bustle of our busy home life and live more simply than usual, family becomes the focus, and that’s always a win.