Warning! Rant forthcoming

Unfortunately for visitors to Indiana State Parks, if you are not hiking or visiting a park between Memorial Day and Labor Day, chances are you will have a hard time finding a restroom. We are frequent visitors at Shades State Park and know this first hand. But at least at Shades, there are both vault toilets and pit toilets available when the DNR decides to shut off the water to the park from about Labor Day to Memorial Day. Shades even has them at the Backpack and Canoe Camps. However, Versailles and Clifty Falls – no!

Shades has its own issues, too. One year we discovered a fireplace with still red hot coals in it at the canoe camp and you have nothing to carry water in to try to put it out – no luck – no one around. No gate attendant, no answer at park office door, no one driving around. Oh, well…

Now, I hike in the parks a lot. And I volunteer in the parks a lot! I have my Advanced Master Naturalist Certification and spend 30 hours every year picking up litter in every state park I visit and I otherwise volunteering my help at events at Turkey Run and Shades. I spend extra every year to help the DNR by getting an Indiana Heritage Trust Environmental Plate.

Indiana used to have a fantastic State Park System. It is hard to find a naturalist-led hike like I attended when I was a child and when my daughter was a child. Shades used to have its own park naturalist with fantastic nature hikes. I learned so much about nature and how to interact in nature from these precious and knowledgeable people.

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