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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2021 812 Magazine

A century outdoors

As Indiana's state parks celebrate their centennial, 812 brings you an insider's guide to our greatest natural resource.

The Indiana State Parks are home to rivers, canyons, caves and many other majestic natural formations. /Photo by Taylor Haggerty

The Indiana state parks are perfect for exploration and making memories, whether you venture out by yourself or share the day with friends and family. The parks were given to Indiana as a gift in 1916, making this year the centennial anniversary. The Indiana landscape is full of breathtaking canyons, hills and caverns, as well as trails that anyone from children to experienced hikers can enjoy, and there’s no better place to explore than the parks.

“The state parks are beautiful places to visit, and I think the best part is that they are so spread out across the state,” says Matt Williams, whose book, “Indiana State Parks: A Centennial Celebration,” came out in 2015. “You’re never going to be an hour away from one.”

This is especially true in the 812 region. Nearly two-thirds of the state parks are located in the rolling hills of Southern Indiana. The caves of Spring Mill, the waterfalls of Clifty Falls, the biking trails of Brown County and the limestone canyon of McCormick’s Creek are major attractions in the region. Of the 16.5 million people who visited the state parks in the past year, 3.5 million visited those four.

While the summer is a high-traffic season for the parks, winter and spring are good times to have them all to yourself. But any time you go to a state park is a good time, and according to Williams it will look different each visit.

“In winter, there are amazing ice formations in the canyons and at some of the falls,” Williams says. “During the spring, before the trees leaf out, you can see all the rock formations and canyons perfectly.”

Our 812 team hiked trails, waded creeks and scrambled up cliffs to bring you an insider’s guide to this amazing natural resource. You’ll find hidden places, trail guides and must-see attractions at four of our oldest and grandest parks: McCormick’s Creek, Brown County, Clifty Falls and Spring Mill. And you’ll discover some newer parks you may not know as well. We’ll offer you first-aid tips for the trail and etiquette do’s and don’ts for sharing the outdoors.

Southern Indiana state parks teem with surprises like an underground cave, a 200-year old gristmill, old fire towers and fossils from the Paleozoic Era.

For the past 100 years, Hoosier families have treasured moments spent in the natural beauty of our state parks. This centennial year, make a resolution to get out and make some new memories of your own with 812 as your guide.

McCormick's Creek

Spring Mill

Clifty Falls

Brown County

First aid

Campground etiquette

Which park are you?

A look at other parks

Richard Lieber: A profile

Lesser-known gems

Hesitation Point ride

Corn cake recipe