Boondocking in Indiana

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 09:53 am. Originally published on March 26th, 2021

Indiana is home to a wide variety of much-visited sites that include metropolitan cities, national forests, state parks, and a state border on the shores of Lake Michigan. Indiana Sand Dunes National Park is also in Indiana and is located on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. If you are looking for a free place to boondock in your RV, then you can find several options in any of the national forests and often in several of the state forests. This type of boondocking or dispersed camping is usually defined as legal camping at minimally developed campsites found on either forest access roads inside the national or state preserves or further into the interior. These types of free campsites do not have electricity or water but may have vault toilets nearby, and visitors are required to pack out trash and other waste. While visiting a national forest, you are generally not allowed to camp for free within developed campgrounds or recreation areas, but most other places inside are allowable.

Sunrise over the trees of Brown Co State Park, Indiana.

Boondocking Sites in Indiana

Blackwell Horse Camp Hoosier National Forest

The Blackwell Horse Camp is inside the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, which is part of the Hoosier National Forest. The camp is geared toward accommodating equestrians overnight and contains a picnic shelter, a loading area for the horses, and hitching posts. However, the horse camp is also welcoming toward any camper. This campground is located along Tower Ridge Road and is about a mile from Highway 446. Here, you will find the trailhead for the Charles C. Deam Wilderness trail system.

Morgan-Monroe State Forest

You can camp alongside many of the trails inside the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, but you must first register with the State Forest Office and give your details about your planned location of camping. The camping groups are restricted to either family groups or mixed groups of not more than six persons and for a duration of not more than three consecutive nights. Morgan-Monroe State Forest is located in Morgan and Monroe counties between Indianapolis and Bloomington and is 35 miles south of Interstate 46 via State Road 37.

Shirley Creek Horse Camp

The Shirley Creek Horse Camp is a horse camp in the Hoosier National Forest and has hitching racks, pit toilets, and water for the livestock. While the camp is geared toward equestrians, anyone can use the camp. There is no usage fee, and parking is also free. Equestrians and mountain bike riders are required to have a permit and stay on designated trails. These permits can be obtained from the National Forest office or from local vendors. The campground is located about 40 miles south of Bloomington, IN, off of CR 775. Once on CR 775, you will drive 1.2 miles to the Shirley Creek Trailhead on the left.

The Hickory Ridge Horse Camp

The Hickory Ridge Horse Camp is primarily designed for horse riders, but anyone can stay at the campground. The campground is in the Hoosier National Forest and is about 25 miles southeast of Bloomington, IN, on Hickory Grove Road. You will turn right at the Forest Service sign and continue to the Hickory Ridge Trailhead on the left side of the road. The campground has vault toilets, hitching posts, a mounting ramp, and water for animals. There are no camping or parking fees. The campground is shady and has space for around 25 RVs, and there are numerous trails that access the general trail system in the national forest. You may also want to visit the historic Hickory Grove Church.

Maines Pond Hoosier National Forest

Maines Pond is about 35 miles east of Bloomington, IN, and is located in the Hoosier National Forest near Freetown. There are several primitive campsites around Maines Pond, which is surrounded by grasslands, stands of cedar trees, and brush thickets. During the spring and summer, there are fields of wildflowers. You will be able to see many bird species, such as bluebirds, meadowlarks, quail, sparrows, and other types of birds. There are also opportunities to see small animals and waterfowl around the pond and in the forest.

Where to Boondock in Indiana

Much of your best opportunities for boondocking in Indiana are available inside or near the Hoosier National Forest, which is a large natural preserve located between Indianapolis and Bloomington. This region has a varied collection of habitats inside the national forest, and you can enjoy hiking, riding horses, boating, fishing, mountain biking, and many other outside activities. There are several horse camps that are open to anyone, and many of the dispersed camping areas have defined and built-up sites in order to keep campers from disturbing the surrounding area negatively. If you are looking for solitude and quiet, then these campgrounds are just the ticket.

Free Camping in Indiana

When preparing for your boondocking trip in Indiana, you should take a few essential items with you in order to have a pleasant and safe camping trip. You will need to take potable water, food, camping tools, cooking equipment, and a first aid kit. Research is important to find legally accessible campsites, and it is a good idea to know about cell phone coverage in the area. You will also want to discover what there is to see and do around your chosen camping site. Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about boondocking

Taking an RV road trip across Indiana is a great way to experience the wide variety of natural landscapes this state possesses. You will especially want to visit several of the national and state forests and parks, and many of these areas have plenty of dispersed campsites where you can camp for free. If you are planning on boondocking in Indiana, then renting an RV from RVshare is one of the easiest ways to travel to all your destinations.

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