Featuring a diverse range of recreational activities, plenty of wildlife, and a great campground, Summit Lake State Park is a wonderful choice for your next RV getaway in Indiana. Consisting of 2,680 acres of pristine natural beauty, Summit Lake State Park was the 19th designated state park within the state when it was opened in 1988. Long before it was a state park, the area was a popular getaway destination when it was known as the Big Blue River Recreation Area.
The park is a second home to nature lovers, where flora and fauna seem to be almost overflowing. Most of the park is taken up by its main focal point, the giant Summit Lake, but there's certainly much more to explore and do within the park's boundaries. Not only is it an important bird area that is home to many rare birds, but Zeigler Woods is also a nature preserve. RV visitors can enjoy everything from boating and fishing to hiking and picnicking. However, a favorite activity for many visitors is taking part in one of the interpretive nature programs offered during specific months.
The park is great for day trips, but it also features 120 electric campsites, so there's no reason to cut your visit short. You can hook up your RV and stay for a day or two, or make it a longer trip if you want to truly recharge your batteries. No matter how you spend your time at Summit Lake State Park, you're sure to get more than a few breathtaking views that you won't soon forget.
Summit Lake State Park isn't too far off the beaten trail, so it shouldn't be hard to find no matter what your RV experience level is. The park is located on N. Messick Road, but exactly how you get there will depend on what direction you're coming from. The roads within the park are somewhat sparse, but they take you where you need to go. The roads will take you to the campground and various parking lots, including the ones by the boat launch, beach, park office, and Harvey Shelter. However, there are no roads in the Zeigler Woods Nature Preserve or most other parts of the park.
If you need to get any supplies before your camping adventure, there are plenty of places to stop on your way to the park. These include stores in New Castle (around nine miles away), Hagerstown (approximately 14.5 miles away), and Muncie (about 18.5 miles away). The closest major city to Summit Lake State Park is Indianapolis, which is around 58 miles southwest.
The roads that are in place are fairly easy to maneuver, but there are a few tight turns that visitors should look out for, especially during the winter when it may be icy. Since there aren't a ton of roads, a second car is not imperative to have a good trip, but many visitors still decide to bring one to make finding a parking spot easier. Getting in and out of the park for supply runs and food is also easier if you bring a second car, but only one vehicle is allowed per campsite. Depending on what time of year you visit, you may also choose to bring bikes or skis to get around the trails.
Summit Lake State Park is home to one campground that is known for being a great place to stay. The campground is RV-friendly and features 120 sites to choose from, so you won't have to worry about a lack of sites if you plan in advance.
All of the 120 campsites have 50-amp electric hookups, but many of them also have water hookups too, not to mention fantastic views of the lake. Several of the sites are directly on the lake's shore, with the rest of them being just a short stroll from the lake and boat launch. Restrooms and showers are also centrally located throughout the campground so you can keep comfortable and smelling fresh.
The sizes of the campsites vary greatly, from just 25 feet long to 100 feet, but most of the sites are between 25 feet and 50 feet long. If your rig is bigger than 50 feet, make sure to reserve a site that is of proper length. Each site comes with a picnic table and fire ring, and they can be reserved all year round.
Summit Lake State Park does not have any specific first-come, first-served sites within the campground. On the day you arrive, if any sites are not reserved, you can book them on a first-come, first-served basis. However, there's no guarantee any sites will be available, so it's recommended to make reservations ahead of time if possible, especially if you're visiting during the peak months.
All of the sites within the campground at Summit Lake State Park are also suitable for tent use. The is one tent-only camping area within the park, however, it is a youth tent camping area, so the appeal for these tent sites are limited for most guests.
A trip to Summit Lake State Park wouldn't be complete unless you got out on the waters of Summit Lake. Many different types of watercraft are allowed on the lake, and there are three ramps within the park that will help you get out on the water if you have a motorboat. If you didn't bring a watercraft to the park, you won't have to miss out on all the fun because there are rentals provided by the park.
Don't forget to load up your campervan with your fishing gear before heading to Summit Lake State Park since this area is known for its excellent fishing opportunities. Seasonal boat rentals and boat launches are available within the park, so the whole lake is yours to enjoy. Anglers at the park can expect to catch everything from walleye and crappie to bluegill and catfish. There's even a fish cleaning station for you to clean your catch of the day, how convenient!
Various interpretive programs are offered seasonally at Summit Lake State Park and RV visitors of all ages are welcome to attend. The goal of these programs is to educate visitors about the plants and animals around them, the impact they have on their surroundings, and various ongoing conservation efforts. The programs in Indiana state parks also delve into the history of the area, but the ones at Summit Lake State Park are more focused on nature and its importance.
If you love to swim, you will have to go for a dip during your stay at Summit Lake State Park. Swimming is allowed in certain areas of Summit Lake State Park, but not all parts. The designated beach area at the park is the perfect place to soak up some sun rays, go for a dip in the lake, or both. It doesn't cost anything to use the beach, but it does tend to be more crowded in the peak months when it is nice and warm out. As tempting as it may be to go to a less crowded part of the lake to swim, for your safety, only swim in the designated beach area.
Another great feature that Summit Lake State Park has on offer is that there are some fantastic picnic areas open for use all year round. Picnic tables are located near the lake in multiple locations, but if you want to just throw out a blanket there is also plenty of open areas where you can have a classic picnic.
For visitors to the park entertaining a group, there are also larger shelters that can be reserved prior to your arrival. There are two shelters in total, one that can accommodate up to 90 people, while the large one is suitable for up to 120 guests. Pets are allowed at both and they contain electric hookups, grilling facilities, picnic tables, and cover from the elements.
A few trails are available for hiking within the park, so make sure to pack your hiking boots in the Class A. The longest hike you can go on is around two miles, so it is perfect for a morning stroll. None of the trails have difficult terrain as the highest rating among them is moderate, but some are harder than others. If you're looking for a short and easy stroll, try out the Beach Trail, which is just under a mile and features fantastic views of the lake and takes you through several tree species. The other trails are slightly more difficult, but still provide scenic nature views that are hard to beat.
Summit Lake State Park is an important bird area so there will plenty of birding opportunities. More than a dozen species call the park home, and the prairies are essential to many waterfowl. In addition to the common birds that you're probably used to seeing, you may also get to see some rare migratory birds including osprey, sandhill cranes, American bitterns, and even the bald eagle. Make sure you bring your gear with you, whether it's just a bird-watching book or a nice pair of binoculars.
During the winter, the trails in the park transform from the perfect hiking destination to the perfect skiing spot. Cross-country skiers can have a field day at the trails within Summit Lake State Park if they are prepared for the conditions. They aren't groomed, so skiing should probably be left to more experienced skiers, but it gives you the chance to see the park in a totally new light. Be sure to bring your skis in the RV though, because rentals aren't available at the park.