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.