Feeling like a caged animal yet? I hear that. My family has taken every opportunity possible to get outside and get some fresh air. Bundling up in winter coats, hats, gloves for a bike ride? Check. Four walks a day? Check. Eating lunch in the yard? Check. Demolished three boxes of sidewalk chalk? Check. We really are our best selves when we get to be outside. But to be honest, it’s starting to feel a little like a scene from “Groundhog’s Day”…same walk, same driveway, same yard. Every. Single. Day. Time to mix it up a bit!
Did you know that per the Governor’s Executive Order, “Outdoor activities, and travel to and from those activities, are still permitted. These include hiking, biking, fishing, boating, birding, hunting, camping, geocaching and other self-directed legal activities. Hoosiers should practice social distancing.”? https://www.in.gov/dnr/10342.htm
Amazing, right?! Pack your picnic lunch, load up the hiking gear or bikes, buckle those kiddos in tight and hit the road!
Here is a list of some (not all!) Indiana State Parks in the State that are OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Get out there and get some fresh air, but be sure to give your fellow park-goers 6ft of space!
Fort Harrison State Park (6000 N. Post Road, Indianapolis, IN 46216)
The 1,700-acre park features walking and jogging trails, picnic sites, fishing access to Fall Creek and two national historic districts. More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2982.htm
Mounds State Park (4306 Mounds Road, Anderson, IN 46017)
Mounds State Park, located off I-69 east of Anderson, features 10 unique earthworks built by prehistoric Indians known as the Adena-Hopewell people. The largest earthwork, the Great Mound, is believed to have been constructed around 160 B.C. Archaeological surveys indicate the mounds were used as gathering places for religious ceremonies, from where astronomical alignments could be viewed. The park also has hiking trails that range from easy to rugged. More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2977.htm
Shades State Park (7751 S. 890 W., Waveland, IN 47989)
Shades State Park is that peaceful place you’ve sought. Located about 17 miles southwest of Crawfordsville (off S.R. 47), it is a favorite for hikers and canoeists.
The beautiful sandstone cliffs overlooking Sugar Creek and numerous shady ravines provide the backdrop for your journey through this nature lover’s paradise.
Also on the property is Pine Hills Nature Preserve, which affords spectacular topography for those willing to take a fairly long hike. More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2970.htm
Turkey Run State Park (8121 E. Park Road, Marshall, IN 47859)
You’ll marvel at the natural geologic wonders of this beautiful park as you hike along its famous trails. Nestled along State Road 47 southwest of Crawfordsville, the park offers the chance to explore deep, sandstone ravines, walk along stands of aged forests, and enjoy the scenic views along Sugar Creek. More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2964.htm
Cataract Falls and Lieber SRA (2605 N. Cataract Road, Spencer, IN 47460)
8,075 acre park – 1,400-acre lake. These falls resulted from two pre-glacial bedrock ridges buried beneath ancient lake sediments of the Illinoisan glacial period. More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2960.htm
Morgon-Monroe State Forest (6220 Forest Rd., Martinsville, IN 46151)
Morgan-Monroe State Forest encompasses more than 24,000 acres in Morgan and Monroe counties in south central Indiana. The forest land encompasses many steep ridges and valleys, and is forested with some of the state’s finest hardwoods. More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4816.htm
McCormick’s Creek State Park (250 McCormick’s Creek Park Road, Spencer, IN 47460)
Explore the spectacular limestone canyon, flowing creek, and scenic waterfalls that highlight Indiana’s first state park. Hike trails featuring diverse forest trees, spicebush, and native wildflowers, including a trail through Wolf Cave Nature Preserve and an accessible trail at the recently renovated nature center. Experience history as you climb the fire tower, use shelter houses or cross the stone arch bridge created by the Civilian Conservation Corps, or examine the historic Statehouse Quarry near White River, which furnished limestone used for the Indianapolis Statehouse. Relax in the lobby of Canyon Inn, open to all park visitors, or watch birds from the dining room porch. Catch cultural events such as concerts in the park amphitheater or attend the several special events hosted annually at the park. McCormick’s Creek State Park offers active enjoyment through all seasons of the year. More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2978.htm
Brown County State Park (1405 S.R. 46 W., Nashville, IN 47448)
Nicknamed the “Little Smokies” because of the area’s resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains, Brown County encompasses nearly 16,000 acres of rugged hills, ridges and fog-shrouded ravines. Glaciers from the most recent ice ages stopped short of the “hills o’ Brown,” but their meltwaters helped create the narrow ridges, steep slopes and deep gullies of Brown County State Park. Indiana’s largest park is a traditional fall color hot spot, with nearly 20 miles of tree-lined roads and many scenic vistas overlooking miles of uninterrupted forestland. More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2988.htm
Spring Mill State Park (3333 State Road 60 E., Mitchell, IN 47446)
Spring Mill State Park offers a powerful illustration of the link between the natural and cultural worlds. The water flowing from several cave springs led to the founding of an industrial village in the early 1800s. Pioneer entrepreneurs took advantage of a constant water source that never froze, using it to power several gristmills, a wool mill, a saw mill, and a distillery. In turn, pioneer settlers shaped the landscape around the village, clearing land for agriculture and timber. The park features several nature trails and 3 caves! More info can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2968.htm
There are also some amazing resources, maps and information in the Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s 2020 Indiana Recreation Guide which can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/files/RecreationGuide-2020.pdf
I’m sure most of you are in the same boat as me; you feel happier when the sun is shining and you get to spend more time outside.
This article describes 6 benefits of getting fresh air:
1) Fresh air is good for your digestive system
Fresh air increases the flow of oxygen helping you digest food more effectively so this will particularly help if you are trying to lose weight.
2) Fresh air helps improve blood pressure and heart rate
Avoid polluted environments particularly if you need to improve your blood pressure. Stay away from the busy traffic as the body will need to work harder to get the amount of oxygen it needs over polluted car fumes.
3) Fresh air makes you happier
The more fresh air you get, the more oxygen you will breathe which will increase the amount of serotonin (the happy hormone) you inhale, consequently making you happier.
4) Fresh air strengthens your immune system
By increasing the amount of fresh air we get, we will increase the amount of oxygen which helps our white blood cells function properly by fighting and killing bacteria and germs.
5) Fresh air cleans your lungs
Your lungs dilate more from having an increase of oxygen so fresh air improves the cleansing of your lungs. You release airborne toxins from your body when exhaling through your lungs.
6) Fresh air gives you more energy and a sharper mind
You may have noticed after spending time outside, you come back indoors feeling brighter and perhaps ready to get back to work. More oxygen results in greater brain functioning, improving your concentration skills and providing you with more energy.
In addition, venturing outside will also help you produce vitamin D from the sun (when it does come out), which is essential for many bodily functions including supporting our immune system, strengthening our bones, teeth and much more.
I hope you’ll find some time to play hooky from e-learning and working from home to visit one of these great parks and take in the benefits of getting some fresh air! As always, if you or anyone you know is in need, please let me know. My family will help in any way we can!
Italicized information was pulled from the various parks and recreation websites.