Interested in camping among the rugged, rolling hills of Southern Indiana? Brown County State Park, with its ridges and ravines, is the perfect place for camping amid Indiana’s southern hills. We should know, our family of seven, Road Trip 7, recently spent a spring weekend camping in the park. In this guide, we tell you everything you need to know about camping at this spectacular state park, answering questions such as: How much does it cost to camp? Which campground is best? And what is there to do while staying in the park? Here we provide an overview of everything you need to know to go camping at one of Indiana’s best state parks, Brown County.
Brown County State Park
Indiana’s largest state park, at almost 16,000 acres, Brown County is sometimes referred to as the “Little Smokies” because its rolling, forested hills resemble the Great Smoky Mountains. The ridges and ravines of the park provide the perfect setting for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, taking a scenic drive, and camping, of course.
Brown County State Park Campgrounds
If you are planning on camping inside Brown County State Park, you have a number of options. The park has five campgrounds: Buffalo Ridge, Racoon Ridge, Taylor Ridge, Horseman, and Youth Campgrounds. Unless you are camping with a youth group, you will be camping at one of the first four. As the name implies, the Horseman’s Campground is for equestrian users only. Brown County is a great place to bring your horse, as the park has numerous horse trails. The three remaining campgrounds, Buffalo Ridge, Racoon Ridge, and Taylor Ridge are located atop ridges in the southern portion of the park. They offer similar amenities: electric hookup, comfort stations with plumbed toilets and showers, regularly spaced water fill stations, campground country store, and playgrounds. Campsite rates vary between weekday and weekend, and features (full hook-up, electric, non-electric and primitive). While the specific camping rates and fees can be found on this Indiana DNR site, in general, they range from $12-36 a night.
We recently camped at the Buffalo Ridge Campground. We chose this campground because a good portion of the sites look out upon wooden ravines, offering lots of privacy.
Activities at Brown County State Park
As Indiana’s largest and hilliest state park, Brown County is a Midwestern hiker’s paradise. The park has over a dozen hiking trails ranging in difficulty from easy to rugged. For those looking for a moderate hike, we recommend taking Trail 4 through the lovely Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve. The trailhead for this 1.25-mile trail is located just north of the camp store and Buffalo Ridge Campground.
If you’re up for an additional challenge, continue on Trail 7. This moderate 1.5-mile trail leads around Ogle Lake, where it is common to spot birds, frogs, and turtles.
Alternatively, Ogle Lake can also be reached by hiking Trail 8. This moderate, 3.5-mile loop trail begins at the West Lookout Tower, stops at Ogle Lake, and passes by a lovely park vista.
Another great option is Trail 6, which leads around Strahl Lake. The trailhead for this rugged, 1.5-mile trail can be found behind the nature center.
If you are a Midwestern mountain biking enthusiast, or simply someone wanting to try the sport for the first time, Brown County State Park is for you! The park has 14 mountain-biking trails, ranging from beginner to expert. Since they are not exceptionally skilled at mountain biking, my boys stuck with beginner Trail G, known as Limekiln. Starting near the campgrounds, at only 2.4 miles in length, this trail is the perfect distance and difficulty for anyone new to the sport.
As mentioned earlier, Brown County State Park has over 70 miles of horse trails. If you aren’t bringing your own horse, you can still enjoy these trails by booking a ride with the Brown County State Park Saddle Barn. The barn offers 35-minute & 1-hour trail rides, as well as pony rides and hayrides. The barn is operational mid-March through mid-November, from 9 am – 5 pm. For contact and pricing information visit the Brown County State Park Saddle Barn.
Climb the Fire Tower
No trip to Brown County State Park is complete without climbing the park’s fire tower. The tower is one of a series of fire towers built in the 1930s to protect Indiana from wildfires. Sitting atop the park’s highest ridge, some 1,000 feet above sea level, the view from the top of the tower is worth the climb!
Watch the Sunrise or Sunset from a Vista
Looking for a more relaxed way to enjoy Brown County State Park? Take in a sunrise or sunset from one of the park’s many scenic vistas. Horseman Camp Road, which runs north-south through the park two eastern-facing vistas, perfect for watching the sunrise. For sunset, Parkview Road, just south of the Racoon Ridge Campground has a number of western-facing vistas.
As always, the Brown County State Park Fire Tower is a great place to watch either the sunrise or sunset!
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