If you’re looking to go camping at no cost, Indiana is a great place to be. Indiana is home to the Hoosier National Forest, which makes up the hills of south-central Indiana and provides many free camping opportunities.
The Hoosier Forest isn’t the only free place to camp in Indiana, though. We’ve found a total of ten places you can camp for free in Indiana, and we’re about to share them with you.
Keep reading to see where you can find free camping in Indiana!
Hoosier National Forest Free Camping
You may not camp for more than 14 days at a single site in Hoosier National Forest. Groups larger than 75 require a permit. Remember to check for fire bans before heading out to camp.
Horseback riders and mountain bikers 17 years old and older must have permits to use designated trails throughout Hoosier National Forest.
The following camps in the forest have been explicitly designed for campers and are great places to start if you’re not sure where you can legally camp for free in Indiana. Leave no trace principles apply in all Hoosier National Forest free camping locations.
1. Blackwell Horsecamp
Blackwell Horse Camp is 16 miles from Bloomington, Indiana, and has been a long-time popular spot for horse riders searching for free camping in Indiana. Other campers are welcome as well, although the accommodations are geared toward horse care.
This free camp area is open year-round and includes four vault toilets. There are no designated sites, though there is capacity for 100 horse trailers. The camp is also accessible to those with disabilities.
No water is available at this campsite, so make sure to bring your own. The free Indiana camping site does have an accessible shelter house and an accessible loading ramp.
You’ll find this camp along Tower Ridge Road in the center of the Charles Deam Wilderness area. You are asked to park only in designated parking areas–not along Tower Ridge Road.
Campsites cannot be unattended for over 24 hours. Groups of over 10 are not allowed to camp in the Charles Deam Wilderness area. The use of generators is also not allowed anywhere in the wilderness area.
2. Shirley Creek Horsecamp
Shirley Creek Horsecamp is around 11 miles from Orleans, Indiana. This is also a free camping area in Indiana intended for horses and their riders, however, anyone is welcome to camp. Free day-use parking is also available at the campground.
The primitive camping spot includes vault toilets accessible to persons with disabilities, hitching racks, and water for livestock. Water available for animals has not been tested for safe human consumption, so campers are advised to bring their water with them.
A 17-mile trail system connects to Shirley Creek Horsecamp. The trail is popular for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
3. Hickory Ridge Horsecamp
Hickory Ridge Horsecamp is another site for free camping in Indiana designed for horse camping that welcomes all campers. The horse camp is 27 miles from Bloomington, Indiana.
This primitive campground has accessible vault toilets, hitching racks, a mounting ramp, and water for livestock. The water is not potable for humans.
The horse camp is part of a 45.9-mile trail system popular for hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding. .
4. Youngs Creek Horsecamp
Youngs Creek Horsecamp is 12.4 miles from Paoli, Indiana. The campsite is part of a 12.7-mile trail designed for hikers, mountain bike riders, and horseback riders. The trail provides shade, scenic views, and multiple types of terrain.
Water is provided for animals from April to October, but it is not potable for humans. You are advised to bring your water with you. The horse camp is open 24 hours a day, with quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The Indiana free camping site has vault toilets, a picnic shelter, hitching racks, and highline posts.
5. Maines Pond
A gorgeous free camping spot in Indiana is Maines Pond. Maines Pond is just three miles from Houston, Indiana, on Houston Road. This is a small pond with plenty of open grasslands, brush, cedar, and small trees surrounding it.
During the spring and summer, the area has large sums of wildflowers and prairie grasses. A buried pipeline is behind the pond, and this area is kept mowed and is the perfect spot to set up camp. Maines Pond also allows boondocking on a first-come, first-serve basis.
This area is attractive to birds and small mammals, so you can enjoy the wildlife during your stay at Maines Pond. Fishermen also enjoy casting their lines into the pond, where panfish can be caught.
6. Buzzard Roost Recreation Area
Located 11 miles from Sulphur, Indiana, Buzzard Roost Recreation is a gorgeous area that features sandstone rock outcrops, bluffs, hardwood forest, waterfalls, and a scenic platform over the Ohio River.
The space is a popular place to picnic and walk around. This recreation area is also a lovely place to enjoy free camping in Indiana.
Tables, grills, and a portable toilet are available for public use. The recreation area also has benches on the bluffs that overlook the Ohio River. Water is not available on-site, so campers will need to bring their own.
Indiana campers can access parking lots at the first trailhead access and the picnic/camping spur. This recreation area includes a ½-mile trail, ideal for hiking.
Horses and bikes are not allowed on this trail. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail, either.
Other Free Camping in Indiana Spots
The Hoosier National Forest may be the most well-known place to enjoy free camping in Indiana. These are four non-Hoosier National Forest locations known to allow campers to set up without fees.
7. Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino
Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino is located in Anderson, Indiana, just 43 miles northeast of Indianapolis. It is a casino and racetrack owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment. The park allows safe and free overnight parking.
RV campers are asked to park in the area furthest from the entrance. There will be signs to direct you where to park. The parking area is level, drains well, and is near grassy areas to walk pets.
Campers will also have access to free shuttles to the casino. If you enjoy casinos and racing, this is the perfect place to set up camp overnight and enjoy free camping in Indiana.
8. Blue Chip Casino
Blue Chip Casino is located in Michigan City, Indiana, near Lake Michigan. The casino allows RVs to park for free. They do ask that those planning to camp call ahead, to ensure availability.
RV parking is allowed in the first parking lot, which is closest to IN-12. The parking lot is to the right when you drive into the casino’s property.
The asphalt lot is level and well-lit. This area is also patrolled by the casino’s security, so it is a safe place for free camping in Indiana
9. Ouabache Park
Not to be confused with Ouabache State Park, Ouabache Park is a city park located in Attica, Indiana, about 3 hours from the state park.
Ouabache Park in Attica is open from May 1 to October 31, and there are 6 to 15 boondocking spots available (depending on RV length).
Any sized RV is allowed to park at this location, and RVers are allowed to stay for 7 days. The park is right next to the Wabash River. This is a great spot to enjoy some free camping in Indiana.
10. Morgan-Monroe State Forest
Free camping is allowed at Morgan-Forest State Forest in the backcountry areas of the forest. This forest makes up 25,000 acres throughout Morgan and Monroe counties in south-central Indiana. Although camping is free, campers are required to register with the State Forest Office.
Backcountry camping groups should not exceed six individuals. Campsites cannot be established within a ¼ mile of access points. Campers cannot stay for more than three nights.
Morgan-Monroe State Forest follows a carry-in, carry-out trash policy, so you must take what you bring in. The backcountry area only permits minimal-impact camping and hiking to preserve the natural state of the forest.
Campers are allowed small fires, but the Indiana DNR recommends bringing a portable camping stove to cook rather than starting a campfire. If you do decide to make a campfire, ensure there is not a burn ban in the area at the time.
Backcountry camping may not be allowed at Morgan-Monroe State Forest during periods of high fire danger.
Free Camping in Indiana Frequently Asked Questions
These are some frequently asked questions by those planning on camping for free in Indiana.
What should I do if vault toilets are not provided?
Deposit solid waste in catholes dug six to 80 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water. Read this article to learn how to poop in the woods.
How do I wash dishes when camping in dispersed camping locations?
When washing dishes, carry water 200 feet from water sources and use biodegradable soap.
What should I do if the water is not potable and I run out of water?
The best option is to boil or filter the available water. Learn more about boiling vs. filtering water.
How can I plan accordingly for a backcountry camping trip?
Check out 21 essential items for the perfect backcountry camping trip before trying free camping in Indiana’s backcountry spots.
How do I stay safe while camping for free in Indiana?
Many of the free camping in Indiana spots are in backcountry locations. We recommend reading this guide to backcountry camping safety before heading out to free backcountry camping sites.
Wrapping up Free Camping in Indiana
Free camping in Indiana is an excellent opportunity to save money and enjoy the freedom that comes with camping outside of traditional fee-based campgrounds. These ten locations are great places to start camping for free in Indiana.
To find more incredible places to camp in Indiana, check out A Guide to Indiana State Parks.
- About the Author
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Nicole Kinkade grew up in campgrounds in the Midwest with her family in their RV and has many fond memories around the campfire. She and her husband took many tent camping trips at the beginning of their relationship, and she looks forward to sharing the outdoors with her young son as he gets older.
She loves discovering new camping techniques and sharing them with the world. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Media Communication, she is a passionate writer who loves sharing her knowledge online.
Nicole can be reached at email@example.com