COLUMN: Plan a ‘staycation’ at home

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Guest Columnist

People don’t have to travel far to vacation in premier national forest recreation areas, some of which are free. There are several free or reasonably-priced campgrounds on the Hoosier National Forest, where people can enjoy a “staycation” close to home.

If you are interested in free camping where no horses are allowed, check out Saddle Lake or Springs Valley campgrounds. Set on scenic small lakes with excellent fishing, both offer primitive camping with picnic tables, fire rings, pit toilets and boat ramps. There are few places more quiet and restful than Saddle Lake.

I marvel that this out-of-the-way campground with a trail and a boat ramp on a peaceful lake are available for free. When people think there aren’t many bargains left, they just haven’t been to the Hoosier. Where else can you vacation in such a pretty place with so many things to do close by for free.

There are also campgrounds which are open to those with horses, though anyone is welcome to camp at these campgrounds as well. They access the extensive multi-use trail system within the forest. These primitive campgrounds offer vault toilets, large open camping areas and corrals. Nonpotable water is available. Horse camps in the Tell City District include German Ridge and Young’s Creek Campgrounds. Young’s Creek is free but German Ridge does charge a small fee.

Indian-Celina and Tipsaw Lake recreation areas are located just off Indiana 37. These modern recreation areas set on lakes offer many amenities to campers but do charge fees.

Indian-Celina Recreation Area has two loops with 63 individual campsites. The area has modern bathroom and shower facilities and some sites have electric and water hookups. Indian-Celina Recreation Area includes two lakes with boat ramps – electric motors only – and excellent pan fishing.

There are picnic areas, two trails, and historic house built in 1874.

Just to the south is Tipsaw Lake Recreation Area with two loops of 35 individual campsites, some with electric and water hookups, and two group camping areas which accommodate up to 65 people each.

Tipsaw Lake offers a picnic area, shelter houses and a beach with playground equipment and bathhouse. Boating and fishing are allowed on this lake as well and a trail for hiking and biking encircles the lakes.

Anyone coming out to the forest needs to remember that the Hoosier Forest is still under a fire ban. Under this burn ban the following acts are prohibited:

  • Building or using a fire, campfire, charcoal grill or wood stove, except in Forest Service designated recreation sites and campgrounds where grills and fire rings are provided.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area that is cleared of all flammable material at least three feet in diameter.
  • Possessing, discharging or using fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices.

Great family getaways close to home don’t have to cost much and can be wonderful opportunities for people to get out and enjoy America’s great outdoors. Contact the Hoosier National Forest office at 547-7051 for more information.

Zimmer is the district ranger for the Hoosier National Forest.