North-central Indiana's Potato Creek State Park offers a wide variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. Just outside South Bend, the park surrounds the 327-acre Worster Lake. With mature woodlands, restored prairie and vibrant wetlands, Potato Creek packs a lot of diversity into a relatively small area.
Before European settlement, Native Americans used the are to harvest wild tubers, and it's these 'potatoes' that give the park its name. Starting in the 1830s, settlers converted much of the area to agricultural land. But in the early 20th century, efforts to preserve the area resulted in the restoration of the natural habitat and the designation of park status.
These days, visitors to Potato Creek can take part in boating, biking, hiking, fishing and more. It's no wonder that this is one of Indiana's most popular state parks.
RV Rentals in Potato Creek State Park
Transportation in Potato Creek State Park
Indiana's rolling grasslands make for some pleasant driving. Even if your RV is on the larger side, you shouldn't have too much trouble navigating the roads inside the park. There are few sharp turns or significant hills, which makes it easy to get around no matter what you're driving.
From South Bend, head due south on US-31. A right turn onto IN-4/Pierce Road will bring you to the park's southern entrance.
From Chicago, take I90 east to US20 E. An hour's drive will bring you to junction 40A. From there, US 35E and IN4 E will bring you to the park.
Campgrounds and parking in Potato Creek State Park
Campsites in Potato Creek State Park
Potato Creek Family Campground
This family campground features over 285 sites where rigs of all shapes and sizes can park for a few nights. All sites provide hookups for electric and a fire ring. Most sites are back-in, though pull-though sites are featured as well. It's a spacious layout with no sites overlapping in any obtrusive manner. This many sites with this much available spacing is often hard to come by.
The campground is such a perfect getaway where the whole family (including your beloved dog) can unwind and recharge from the day's events. Facilities to help make your stay more comfortable include an area bath house with flush toilets, dump stations, and access to potable water. Visitors are also welcome to use the grounds' convenience store, where you can do some stocking up on camp supplies.
Just minutes from the lake, the campgrounds are an ideal location to park for a few days and really soak up Potato Creek's surroundings. It's good to get your reservations in fairly early with this park, as the lake brings in many visitors during the peak of Summer. Though, open year round, the park sees guests through all sorts of weather and seasonal events.
As a beloved location for both new visitors and old, this park is an ideal setting for all ages and all abilities. Potato Creek continues to provide a perfect location to embrace the outdoors.
There are 69 equestrian campsites featured here at the state park. Each provide hookups for electric and can support trailers up to 60 feet in length. However, in order for wheeled guests to park, there MUST be a horse along for the ride. Unfortunately, these spots aren't set aside as added sites to the other 287 that accommodate trailer campers and RVs. These are strictly enforced for a different kind of horse power.
When you stay at Potato Creek State Park, you have options. As a popular day use area, Potato Creek State Park not only provides sites for those who have reserved ahead, but also for those who work off of more spur of the moment decisions. Once you see how much you can enjoy here, you won't question the need to stay for longer.
However, even when you're not traveling with a home on four wheels, you still have plenty of other ways to stay. Whether you would rather get cozy in a cabin or stay traditional with tent camping, Potato Creek has the right accommodation for you.
Seasonal activities in Potato Creek State Park
Visit the Nature Center
Potato Creek's abundant flora and fauna are one of the highlights of the park, and the Nature Center will help you to get a better understanding of what you're seeing. The bird feeders they have set up on the observation deck attract many of the park's bird species, both resident and migratory. Rangers can help you appreciate the delicate ecosystem of the park.
The three-mile bike trail that winds its way through the park is a great way to experience what Potato Creek has to offer. Starting at the boat rental, it leads up and down through wooded hills before finding flatter ground.
For a more thrilling experience, there's also a six and a half mile mountain bike trail. And if you didn't bring your bike, don't worry. It's possible to rent a bike within the park.
Worster Lake practically begs to be explored by boat, and if you don't have one of your own, you can always rent one. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats and trolling motors are permitted on the lake. It's a perfect way to get some exercise, or simply relax on the calm waters of the lake during summer.
Potato Creek offers around ten miles of equestrian trails. And because these trails are set aside for horses only, you won't have to worry about sharing them with bikers. Bringing your horse with you means you can camp in the designated equestrian campground in the park. The trails are mostly flat, making them suitable for riders of all experience levels.
With all that water in the center of the park, you'd expect to find good fishing at Potato Creek. And you'd be right. Regular bass tournaments are held on the lake each year. As well as the bass, anglers can hope to reel in crappie, catfish and other species. The boat launch and boat rentals make it easy to fish on the water, but you can also fish from the pier.
When the snow falls, Potato Creek's hiking trails become ideal for cross-country skiing. It's a great way to enjoy and explore the park even in the heart of winter. It's a good idea to be prepared, though; the park itself doesn't rent skis, so you'll need to bring your own or rent them from a nearby town.
Potato Creek has a sledding and tubing hill that is very popular in the winter. Racing down the icy hill on a sled or rubber tube is a thrill for people of all ages. Plan ahead, though; there's no sled or tube rentals in the park, so you'll need to bring your own gear with you.
Indiana winters get plenty cold, and the lake at Potato Creek can be relied on to freeze solid. But that doesn't mean there's nothing going on under the surface. Drill a hole and drop a line, and you'll be surprised at what you might catch. The nearby fish cleaning station makes it easy to prepare your catch once you've caught it.
Potato Creek offers five hiking trails that range in terms of difficulty from easy to rugged. The trails offer opportunities to explore the wetlands, rolling hills, old farms and woodlands. Trail 2, the most rugged of the trails, leads to the park's highest point and offers views across the region.
No matter what time of year you visit, Potato Creek is a great place to see wildlife in its natural habitat. An important area for bird migration, the park hosts water birds such as mute swans and sandhill cranes along with songbirds such as sedge wrens and warblers.
besides birds, beavers can be seen in the Swamp Rose Nature Preserve part of the park, and deer are often seen on the trails throughout the park.