Set right on the shores of the park's eponymous lake, Indian Lake State Park is a nature lover's paradise, offering over 5,100 acres of stately oak woodlands, bird-filled marshes, sandy beaches, and rolling green fields. Located east of Bellefontaine, Ohio (and only an hour and a half drive from both Dayton and Columbus), this state park is is a great stop-over spot for those traveling across the Midwest, but it's also a destination in its own right. From hiking and swimming to boating and fishing, Indian Lake State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities.
The lake views at the park, which lays claim to over 800 acres of water, are lovely. There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities here too. Several dozen species of migratory songbirds and waterfowl can be found here in spring and summer, and small mammals, turtles, snakes, and raptors can all be spotted as well. The Visitor Center has lots of great exhibits on native species and local ecology and geology. The area also has a rich cultural history stretching back many centuries. Before European settlers arrived, Native Americans frequently traded along the stretch of the Miami River where the lake now sits.
Once you park your RV at Indian Lake State Park you can wander out on one of the many trails in the park. For those wishing to grab a better view of the water or snap a photo at sunset or sunrise, head out onto Pew Island Trail, an easygoing mile-long path that takes you right out into the lake. In the summer, go for a refreshing swim or just enjoy a sunbath on one of the park's several beaches. When winter rolls around, snowmobiling, ice-fishing and cross-country skiing all become popular activities at the park. No matter what season you visit, you'll be sure to find plenty to do at Indian Lake.
Indian Lake State Park is easily accessible by RV or car. The park is is located east of Bellefontaine, OH, off of State Route 540. Park roads will take you wherever you wish to go inside the park, from the Park Office and Nature Center to the campgrounds and trails. There are no driving restrictions for RVs or trailers within the park, so you will be able to get around easily, whether you're in your RV or another vehicle. Drivers also need not worry about sharp turns or steep hills - there are none to be found here.
Should you feel the need to get out of your RV just to stretch your legs, consider heading over to the Biking Trail, a nearly four-mile paved multi-use area located on the West Bank.
There are several options for parking RVs and trailers, with seven lots throughout the park. You'll be able to find spots at the Nature Center, Marinas, Beach, and near the trails. Of course, if you are staying overnight you can park at the campground.
Almost all of the camping spots at Indian Lake's large campground are back-in. However, spots are long and were built to accommodate even the largest rigs and trailers. Parking itself should pose little challenge, though visitors should be aware that the park can become quite busy, especially during summer weekends, so prepare for the possibility of a little campground congestion.
Set right on the shores of the lake, even the farthest sites at Indian Lake State Park are just a short jaunt from the water. The campground offers a whopping 440 pet-friendly campsites available for RVs and tents year-round. The campsites are divided into several different loops and spurs. Forty-three campsites offer full hookups, including water, sewage, and electric, while another 360 sites provide electric hookups. Amenities at this campground include showers, restrooms, and a dump station. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table.
If you've been on the road for a while and have put off doing laundry, Indian Lake's campground offers a great, modern laundry facility. You can also easily stock up on food or supplies at the nearby camp commissary. This campground is ideal for those seeking aquatic adventures since you'll have convenient access to the boat launch ramps and fishing opportunities. Not only that, but you can enjoy bike and boat rentals, as well as the volleyball and basketball courts. You'll also be near the trails and a playground. Some campsites even boast lakefront views.
Quiet hours must be observed at night. There is no limit on how long you may stay at a time. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
If you are coming to Indian Lake State Park on a whim you might be lucky enough to snag a spot on a first-come, first-served basis, if there are any available. However, reservations are highly encouraged, especially during the busy season (Memorial Day through Labor Day).
If you're planning a retreat, family reunion, or another big get-together, consider booking Indian Lake's lovely group camping site. Available by reservation, the park's group site can accommodate up to 60 guests.
An unusual feature, even for State Parks with lots of waterfront property, Indian Lake offers ten "boat camping" sites. While these shoreline spots do not have fire rings, grills, or much of a lawn, they do let you camp right on the lake. Enjoy an unencumbered view of colorful sunrises and sunsets from right on top of the water. Since the sites are few and removed from the main campground, they also offer some extra quietude.
Like the main campground sites, boat camping sites can (and should) be reserved. Boat campers will also have access to all the amenities available to tent and RV campers, including showers, restrooms, and the camp commissary.
Tucked away among the many RV and tent camping spots at Indian Lake's campground are two lovely camper cabins. These charming wooden abodes have AC, appliances including a fridge and microwave, and some basic furniture. One cabin can sleep four, while the other sleeps six. The cabins can be reserved by calling the park. Reservations are mandatory, as is a safety deposit.
Whether you're traveling with a small group or a large one, you should have no problem finding a great picnic spot at Indian Lake. The park sports six sheltered picnic areas, plus many more tables. Some sites offer electric hookups and parking for up to 50 vehicles. Many sites have also have grills, and all sites are within reasonable walking distance of a restroom. There are plenty of shade trees for post-lunch siestas, and the picnic spots' proximity to the beach means there's no need to hop in a vehicle if you're heading from one to the other.
If you wish to learn more about the park's history and native species, park your rig at the Nature Center and check out some of the lovely exhibits inside. Here, you can learn about some of the plant and animal species to keep an eye out for when you're on the trail or at the beach. During the busy summer season, the park also offers naturalist programs, where kids and adults alike can learn from park rangers on a variety of natural history topics.
Indian Lake State Park is home to many bird species, so you will absolutely want to pack your binoculars in your motorhome. A great many waterfowl and wading birds frequent the park such as bufflehead, goldeneye, pintails, egrets, herons, and swans. Seasonal visitors include neotropical migrants such as blue-headed vireos, black-and-white warblers, yellow-throated warblers, cerulean warblers, scarlet tanagers, and American goldfinches. The lake has even been known to draw bald eagles every now and again.
If you're new to birding and would like some ID help or hints on which species to look out for, head over to the Visitor Center and ask the knowledgeable rangers there.
Whether you're an avid swimmer or you're just looking to dip your feet in the water, Indian Lake State Park has a lot to offer. This state park has two public beaches, Fox Island Beach and Old Field Beach, which together provide 1,400 feet of access to Indian Lake. Summer days here routinely reach highs in the 80s or 90s, and the cool, clear waters of the lake offer a welcome respite. Swimming is permitted in designated areas and at your own risk. Pets are not permitted on the swimming beaches.
Indian Lake State Park is a great place to bring a bike and enjoy a nice beach cruise. A multi-use trail, which heads right out from the campground, wraps around the western shore of the lake. At 3.5 miles, it may not take you all day to complete, but it offers a gentle ride and wonderful views of Indian Lake all along the way. The trail also brings riders near Lakeview and Russel's Point, both of which offer several great places to grab a bite to eat.
Indian Lake has several miles of easygoing paths that let visitors take in views and get closer to the park's diverse flora and fauna. The short Pew Island Trail, just under a mile, is a gentle stroll offering great views from a small island on Indian Lake. The 1.5-mile Cherokee Trail heads through a mix of prairie and marsh habitats - it's a great place to see birds, especially during migration season.