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As one of the largest recreation areas in the state of Indiana, Patoka Lake is shared between three counties: Crawford, Dubois, and Orange. Thanks to a vast area of almost 26,000 acres, Patoka Lake State Park campers can enjoy an array of recreational activities. Those who love golfing, biking, swimming, fishing, and even archery will have an incredible time camping at the state park.
Patoka Lake covers around 8,800 acres and is home to freshwater jellyfish, bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and walleye while also serving as a feeding ground for bald eagle and osprey. The lower parts of the park are covered with dense forests comprised of oak, maple, beech, hickory, walnut, and tulip, while hardwood forests spread across the upper slopes.
Just a few minutes from the state park RV campground is the town of Eckerty, and around 20 miles from the state beach are French Lick and West Baden Springs. Guests who plan on getting an RV rental to camp here can find a rig in one of these three cities. Alternatively, search for an RV in Orange County, or the other two counties, Dubois and Crawford, to find a motorhome that fits your style and budget.
Those camping at Patoka Lake State Park for the first time should take the time to visit the nature center. Here, you'll find exhibits along with indoor and outdoor programs that aim to teach you about the park’s history and some of the most iconic historic figures from the area. Those who are interested in birdwatching can stroll through the backyard wildlife habitat, as the park is investing resources in its raptor program.
Guests who enjoy water-based activities tend to spend most of their stay swimming, boating, and fishing at Patoka Lake. Given the size of the lake, it should be fairly easy to find a nice and secluded place either on water or shoreline where you can fish. The sandy beach tends to be more crowded, especially during summer, when people come to sunbathe and cool off. You'll also find bathrooms, restrooms, and stands with food vendors should you need to grab a quick bite.
Seasoned hiking veterans will love the trails and the challenges they pose. There's a six-and-a-half-mile rugged main trail that starts at the Nature Center and takes you all the way to Totem Rock. A bit easier pathway that boasts wildlife observation opportunities is two miles long and shows hikers some of the habitat requirements and habitat preservation techniques.
The RV campground at Patoka Lake State Park feature hundreds of paved sites with different sizes that offer either 30-amp or 50-amp electric hookups. The sites are all pet-friendly and come with standard camping amenities such as picnic tables and fire rings.
For those who plan on renting an RV prior to their arrival, make sure you pick a vehicle that's up to 70 feet in length. Guests can also find other amenities throughout the RV campgrounds, like water hydrants, showers, restrooms, a dump station, fish cleaning station, and a playground.
In addition to RV camping activities, visitors are encouraged to check out what state of Indiana has to offer in terms of entertainment. Near the visitors' center, you'll find a store and a gas station, but you can also pay a visit to the nearby winery. Here, you can enjoy the fragrance and taste of sweet, semi-sweet, and dry wines made from different fruits. You can even organize special events here, or sign up for events hosted at the vineyard.
Your next stop should be the town of French Lick. This is an awesome place to visit if you're looking for multiple dining options and if you want to see interesting museums. Grab a bite at one of the pizzerias, or go for German cuisine, or enjoy a nice steak. You can then go to the French Lick West Baden Springs Museum, which features exhibits depicting French Lick and West Baden Springs' history. These towns have a really colorful past as they were known for illegal gambling, plush resorts, globally renowned artists, and even circus headquarters. You’ll be able to see a large circus diorama, some incredible paintings, carved stones, as well as some relics of casinos that even date back to the 1860s.
For those guests who are traveling with their kids or those that just want to cool off and have fun, French Lick’s water park is the place to be. Not only do you get to enjoy all the slides and pools, but you also get to play in the arcade, interact with animals, ride a zipline, and go on an ATV tour.