7 Best Places for Free Camping in Indiana

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Free camping in a field full of wildflowers

One can typically find free camping much easier in the western portion of the country than in any other region. However, while it may take more effort, you can find some great options in the midwest.

The Hoosier State may not come to mind when you think about boondocking, but today we’re looking at some of the best options for free camping in Indiana. Let’s get started.

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 doesn’t block developed trails or roadways. 

However, you can’t 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 aren’t 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.

Colorful leaves surround a placid lake as the seasons change in Indiana. Canoes retired for the year lay in a pile in the foreground.

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

Are BLM Campgrounds Free?

Camping in many Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campgrounds is free. However, that’s 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.

The 9 Best Places for Free Camping in Indiana

Indiana may have a lot of cornfields and cow pastures, but it also offers some fantastic free camping options. Let’s look at nine of the best places you should consider next time you pass through.

1. Blackwell Horsecamp

Blackwell Horsecamp is in Heltonville, Indiana, in the Hoosier National Forest. This horse camp may feel like a boondocking dream with its large grass field with plenty of opportunity for solar, decent cell coverage, and plenty of trails to hike. What more could you ask for in a free campsite?

The campground is typically relatively empty during the week and will get more crowded on the weekends. However, it has plenty of room for everyone to spread out. 

It even has a fire tower nearby that offers a fabulous view of the surrounding landscapes. You can bet this provides some excellent photography opportunities in the fall to see the beautiful colors.

These campers explored the free campsites at Blackwell Horse Camp in Indiana.

2. Harrah’s Hoosier Park

Harrah’s Hoosier Park is a fantastic overnight stop for free camping in Anderson, Indiana. This is a level casino parking lot that’s very big-rig friendly. While you won’t camp in a dense forest, you can’t ask for much more from a place to stop for the night.

It has excellent cell coverage, so you can stream your favorite shows or stay connected to friends and family. You can go to the on-site restaurant to grab a bite to eat and use the restroom facilities inside the casino. 

If you like gambling, you may even hit the jackpot and win enough to get that dream solar system or new tow vehicle.

3. Ouabache Park

Located on the banks of the Wabash River, Ouabache Park offers eight sites for an overnight stop. This free, first-come, first-served camping area doesn’t require you to register with the city. 

However, you have to call to request to have the bathroom facilities unlocked. Additionally, the restrooms are only available between May 1 and October 31. 

Plus, you can visit the wildlife sanctuary next to the designated camping area. Avoid parking your RV or cars on the grass if you decide to park here. 

4. Morgan-Monroe State Forest

Morgan-Monroe State Forest is a 25,000-acre forest located in south-central Indiana, with steep ridges and valleys. You can take a short drive into Indianapolis. While camping is free, you must register with the State Forest Office in person, by email, or at the kiosk. 

You’ll need to provide them with an approximate location where you’ll camp. You can stay for a maximum of three consecutive nights and must practice leave-no-trace guidelines to protect the forest and the surrounding areas.

5. Shirley Creek Horsecamp

This free primitive camping spot in Indiana offers pit toilets and non-potable water. Shirley Creek Horsecamp is open year-round and is a great option for those looking to ride mountain bikes or horses. 

You will need a permit if you plan to use the trails in these capacities. It doesn’t have designated sites, but the camp has a max capacity of 40 trailers. Additionally, it doesn’t have reservations or size restrictions. You’ll find 19 tables and 13 fire rings in addition to the pit toilet. 

6. Hickory Ridge Horsecamp

This year-round campground is another free horse camp that any national forest visitor can use. It has vault toilets and non-potable water available. The water isn’t tested for human consumption, so plan accordingly.

You can easily maneuver in these large sites. Hickory Ridge has room for 20 trailers, but all sites are first-come, first-served. This lightly-used area can provide a great way to get some solitude and connect with nature.

A large field with horses grazing in the late summer

7. Maines Pond

Another free camping site in Indiana is Maines Pond, located in the Hoosier National Forest. It’s not a big-rig-friendly area, but consider staying here if you want to tent camp or have a truck camper.

The ground can get soft, so make sure you avoid entering or leaving during wet conditions, or you may get stuck. You’ll find some great options for tent camping, especially around the pond. 

This is backwoods camping, and you should come prepared with bug spray and any items you might need during your stay. If you want a secluded place to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors, try this beautiful area.

Pro Tip: Free camping in the midwest doesn’t stop with Indiana! Here are 10 free camping spots in Michigan.

Enjoy Hidden Gems While Camping for Free in Indiana

You’ll 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. 

What’s your favorite free camping spot in Indiana?

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