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Hoosier National Forest Dispersed Camping

Crumble Coffee And Bakery

Free Camping Hoosier National Forest

All their beans are roasted locally, and all their baked goods are baked at their shop. They became so popular after they opened they had to move to a bigger place because people would sit on the floor. *** Hands down the best coffee and pastries in town.

Bloomington IN, is a fantastic college town, with Indiana Universitys sporting events, movies, music events and all the appeal college towns have. It is conveniently located 25 min away from Hoosier National Forest, 28 minutes away from Yellowwood State Forest and 40 min from Brown County State Park. With everything so close, it is a great destination for a long weekend anytime of the year.


A Hiker’s Oasis In The Hills And Valleys Of The Midwest

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Little Known Fact: Hoosier National Forest has a rolling terrain because the glaciers which flattened most of Indiana stopped just to the north.

The lush greens of summer had finally arrived and I needed trees. Lots of trees. And not the strolling stands of a city park or the scattered thickets that sparsely punctuate Indianas central flatlands. I wanted thick woods, lush, dark, and deep. I called a friend, packed my gear, and headed south into the billowing hills of the Hoosier National Forest. Many dismiss Indianas topography as flat farmland stretching from border to border, but the glacial movements were kind to southern Indiana. Rolling hills and plunging valleys ~ some painted green with corn, others brown with winter wheat, still others dark with hardwoods ~ ripple toward the Ohio River Valley.

The following day we headed north toward the Two Lakes Loop area. Celina and Indian lakes are popular fishing spots fortunately, a 12-mile trail loops around both. It proved to be a good escape from civilization and our fellow weekend warriors.

As we rested atop a cliff and took in the expansive view, a rumble of thunder overhead broke the silence. We looked at each other and reluctantly began our descent to the trail and to civilization. Our time in the trees was over ~ for now.

Camping Near You Find A Free Campsite

Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.

Our community provides the best free camping information available. Free campgrounds can be hard to find. makes it easy. We give you a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. Community reviews and ratings provide you with up to date information and help you select the best camp site for your next camping trip.

This is a platform for sharing campgrounds and camp sites you have discovered. We are community driven, and while we will be adding many free camping spots, we hope that you will add some of your favorite camping places as well. By sharing camping information freely, we can all spend less time researching campgrounds, spend less money, and more time camping. If everyone contributes a few campsites, we’ll all have more places to go camping.

Please come back and let us know what you find!

We are not actively seeking Wal-Marts, truckstops or other parking lots and will not be adding very many of these. There are enough Wal-Mart and truck stop directories out there already. However, if a member of the community finds one of these locations to be useful for overnight RV parking and creates an entry, we may approve the listing.

Please come back and let us know what you find!

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Enjoy Southern Indiana At These 7 Hoosier National Forest Camping Spots

This article about Hoosier National Forest camping is brought to you by Red Ledge. Their dependable gear will keep you dry and warm on your trip to any of these southern Indiana campgrounds.

The best way to enjoy Southern Indiana is through Hoosier National Forest camping. This 200,000-acre forest is a mecca for hikers, anglers, hunters, and campers. With campgrounds of every type, theres a place for every kind of nature lover. There are more than 260 miles of trails, acres of pristine lakes, and several cool historical landmarks. These Hoosier National Forest camping spots put you in the midst of Indianas most magnificent landscapes.

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Public Comment Period Open For Roadside Camping

Best dispersed camping in Hoosier National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing a change in how dispersed roadside camping is managed on the Hoosier National Forest.

Proposed actions, which are mainly along Hickory Ridge Road in northwestern Jackson County, are in response to significant damage to forest resources, inundation of user-created sites within the Pleasant Run Unit along roadways and improper use of dispersed sites, according to a news release from the forest service.

The proposed change would include designating and maintaining the sites that are sustainable for camping and closing those that are unsustainable, which is approximately 20% of the sites across the Pleasant Run Unit.

Designated sites would be made identifiable with signage, rehabilitated and maintained for primitive camping and remain free of charge and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The public would have a better understanding of locations of allowable roadside dispersed camping and proper use.

This proposal first focuses on Hickory Ridge Road, which is highly impacted and the most heavily inundated with dispersed sites within the unit.

Of the 19 sites along Hickory Ridge Road, eight sites would be closed and two sites would be transformed and maintained as small parking areas for trail users. Nine sites would be maintained for camping.

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Charles C Deam Wilderness

  • Use of wheeled vehicles, including carts, wagons, or bicycles is prohibited. Mechanized or motorized equipment, including generators, is prohibited.
  • Hunting is permitted but target shooting is not. Paintball is prohibited.
  • Group size is limited to 10 persons or less.
  • Camping within 100 feet of trails or water bodies is allowed only on designated sites.
  • Geocaching is prohibited.
  • Alcohol is prohibited at the Hickory Ridge Tower.
  • Camping is restricted within 300 feet of designated trailheads, wilderness access points and horse camps.
  • Roadside parking and camping is prohibited along
  • Tower Ridge Road adjacent to the Wilderness.

Free Camping In Hoosier National Forest

The US Forest Service permits camping on its public lands in Indiana, free of charge.

The limitations are specifically that you cannot camp for free in established campgrounds and that you must stay within 125 feet of the road. The USFS doesnt provide maps to these locations however, theyre often clearly marked and with a little exploration, should be easy enough to find. One example is crowd favorite Blackwell Horsecamp, which is primarily aimed at equestrians but has no official rules barring those without their trusty steed from camping there. Fire rings and vault toilets are provided.

Just note that there is a 14-day limitation on camping within the national forest, and before driving down dirt roads, you should have a good handle on how to boondock properly. When looking for free campsites, for example, the first rule of thumb is to find an already established spot so as not to damage the forest youve come to enjoy.

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Hoosier Park Racing And Casino


Elevation: 715

Management: Public Rest Area

This is a state owned pull off with two concrete picnic tables and some grass area. This is not a a designated camping area but a camper overnight or a quick place to pop a tent for the night. Open, flat grass areas. No water, electricity or restrooms. Free Indiana camping spots.

Goodenough Creek Campground Idaho

Hoosier National Forest Weekend Overlanding Trip on Independence Day (July 4th, Dispersed Camping)

Even though the name literally says good enough, visitors of Goodenough Creek Campground whove reviewed this place tout it as much more than that. The grounds in McCammon offer gorgeous views as well as toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. There are 10 designated camping spots five for tents and five for RVs and trailers.

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What Is Hoosier National Forest Camping Known For

Hoosier National Forest is not your typical wildlife forest that only houses wild animals, trees, and plants. This is known for being a community for a small population. It is located in hilly Indiana and has different features to offer to locals and tourists. This place hides beautiful back-country trails, rolling brown hills, and long rural crossroads. Its a stunning 203,000-acre forest worth treasuring.

This tourist spot offers different highlights to people, including camping, day hikes, horseback riding, fishing, and mountain biking. Anything that will take you away from the stress of the city is hereno car horns, no traffic lights, no rushing people. Adults and kids are welcome to enjoy the green sceneries. Although there is no beach to do other stuff like swimming and surfing, theres a special place for people who are craving the natural waters of the forest. Look for small bodies of water like streams or rivers and swim like you are on the beach!

Enjoy Hidden Gems While Camping For Free In Indiana

Youll find much more than corn and cows in Indiana. During the summer and fall, you can enjoy some fantastic sunsets and views of nature all over the state.

Some camp locations are so untouched they practically give you a glimpse into what the area would have looked like hundreds of years ago. While many rush out west to find epic boondocking spots, you have some great options in the midwest as well.

Whats your favorite free camping spot in Indiana?

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Is Boondocking Legal In Indiana

Indiana, like many states, allows boondocking in approved areas. One of the best places is Hoosier National Forest in south-central Indiana. You can boondock practically anywhere in the national forest, as long as your vehicle doesnt block developed trails or roadways.

However, you cant boondock in campgrounds, parking areas, day-use areas, boat launches, or any other area with signage indicating no camping.

Finding a campsite can pose a challenge as many roadside spots in the national forests arent mapped. You should only camp in already established sites, and you must stay within 125 ft of the road. Though, you should have no problem finding them if you travel to the most popular sections of the national forest.

Pro Tip:Check out these national forests that are better than most nation parks.

Free Indiana Boondocking Camp Sites

Best dispersed camping in Hoosier National Forest

Indianas parks are popular among outdoor enthusiasts, from the sandy bluffs and hundreds of lakes in the north to the limestone caverns in the south. Peaceful days on the river and hundreds of miles of isolated trekking are just a short drive away in a state distinguished by its love of automobiles. You wont have to travel far to locate your retreat, so come explore the Indiana camping spots!

Its easy to discover the perfect place to stay with over 30 state parks and a national forest nearby. Summer evenings are a terrific time to get the family together outside for a weekend away, and campers appreciate choosing the finest area to visit in the fall for the gorgeous autumn colors.

Escape to Indianas White River, which meanders for more than 200 miles among sandstone bluffs that rise from the rivers banks. The White River is popular with locals and tourists alike because of its excellent fishing chances and wealth of animals. Its the perfect excuse to take a day off from work and go camping in Indiana, with over 12 different areas of the river to explore.

The bird watching and calm views of Indianas riverways will appeal to nature lovers camping in Indiana. Call ahead to arrange for an outfitter to take you to the best fishing spots on the river. Adventurers may want to go it alone, thanks to a comprehensive river guide available online.

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Are Blm Campgrounds Free

Camping in many Bureau of Land Management campgrounds is free. However, thats not always the case. Some campgrounds or areas may require a permit, including a fee. The fee for many of these permits typically ranges from $5 to $15 and will cover you for seven to 14 days.

If you plan to camp on BLM land, you should always check the requirements. Some areas have heavier patrols than others, and ignorance of the requirements might not get you out of a fine. Fines for camping without a permit can cost you substantially more than had you purchased the permit.

Indiana Camping Spots: The Guidelines And Where To Find Free Campsites

Many hikers and walkers opt to camp as they travel since Indiana hiking routes are in such bad shape around the state. This is free camping at its most natural, but there are a few ground rules that hikers must follow either wild camping or staying in the free Indiana boondocking campsites located beside trails.

Apart from these sites, you can camp anywhere in Indianas woodlands:

  • Paid campsites
  • Parking areas, trailheads, and day-use areas
  • Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest
  • Hickory Ridge Lookout Tower site
  • Hemlock Cliffs area

Campers must stay 300 feet away from trailheads and 100 feet away from waterfalls and trails, according to state forest officials.

You should also leave your pitch in the same condition as you found it and squander as little as possible. When using the restroom, keep at least 100 meters away from a water source and use a trowel if necessary.

Additionally, be mindful of any prohibitions on campfires in your area. If youre unsure, dont start a campfire. We advocate utilizing a storm cooker because it allows you to cook anywhere.

Its advisable to only stay in each camping area for a short period of time. However, you can stay in Indiana state parks for up to two weeks at a time.

Be informed of the vegetation and fauna in the Indiana region where you intend to camp. While staying in forested areas, theres a chance youll see bears, coyotes, and maybe mountain lions!

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Dispersed Camping Best Practices

Practice Leave No Trace Principles:

  • Bring enough water for the duration of your stay.
  • Leave a clean campsite by packing out all refuse. No garbage service is provided and leaving your trash is illegal and can result in steep penalties.
  • Go at least 200 feet from water sources and campsites for personal hygiene needs and bury human waste.

Camping & Cabin Rentals

Hoosier National Forest- Solo Camping Trip (12/15/20)

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is completely free and permitted throughout most of the Hoosier, so long as visitors follow the camping guidelines above in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness section. Although there is no charge for dispersed camping, please abide by the following restrictions:

  • Stays are limited to a maximum of 14 days.
  • Firewood must be in compliance with Indiana DNR standards.

For more information on dispersed camping restrictions, visit this page.

Developed Campgrounds

There is one developed campground within the Monroe County section of the Hoosier National Forest at the Hardin Ridge Recreation Area. The camping season runs from mid-April to early-October each year. Like dispersed camping, there is a 14-day stay limit at the Hardin Ridge campground.

Hardin Ridge Campground

The campground at Hardin Ridge offers six camping loops and a total of 203 forested campsites for visitors. Sites are a mix of electric and non-electric. Some sites offer water hookups several showerhouses with restrooms are scattered throughout the campground for those without water at their site.

Some sites are free and first-come, first-served, while others are reservable for a fee. For reservable sites, reservations must be made at least four days ahead of your trip, but can be made up to nine months in advance. Visit this website for availability and booking.

Cabin Rentals

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How Do I Find A Dispersed Campsite

Finding a campground is easy when youre looking for developed areas. Here at The Dyrt, we specialize in helping you find campgrounds. Finding spots for dispersed camping is a little different.

Select an area of interest within National Forest Land and use Google Earth in satellite view to check your route for pull-offs. A great idea is to pick a trailhead and look nearby. A dirt pull off or small clearing in a forest is an indicator of an existing camp spot.

Once you have an idea of where youd like to camp, check with the local ranger station on any local camping or fire restrictions. Sometimes, especially during the off-seasons, forest access roads are closed, so check in advance to be sure that your route is clear.

Find BLM campsites from your car without WiFi. The Dyrt PRO lets you download maps and campgrounds without cell service. My alternative to using pro would be to drive back out to cell service.

Its also extremely helpful to have a hard copy map of the national forest youd like to camp in. These are difficult to find online, but you should be able to pick them up at local gas stations, grocery stores, and ranger stations once you reach your destination.

Part of the beauty of dispersed camping is that it isnt advertised on big Camp Here! signs. Finding your spot can take some work, even if you do your research. Its especially difficult to find unmarked camping spots in the dark, so leave yourself plenty of daylight to find your campsite and settle in.

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