The Midwest is home to many state parks and monuments unknown to those who prefer to travel by air. The region is ripe with discoveries for those who like to have their hands on the steering wheel, their foot on the gas pedal, and their eyes on the open road. One such place you may have yet to discover is Shades State Park, located 47 miles northwest of Indianapolis, Indiana. Shades State Park is a hidden wonder you won’t want to miss!
Read on to learn more about Shades State Park and which Shades State Park RV sites you should make your base of exploration. Whether you’re interested in RV campgrounds in Shades State Park or those nearby, you’re sure to have a good time in the area!
Shades State Park Facts
To those from outside Indiana, Shades State Park isn’t very well known. To help you learn a bit more about it, here are a few Shades State Park facts.
- Shades State Park was created in 1947.
- It was established on land formerly owned by Joseph Frisz, who had purchased the land to protect it.
- The area once hosted a 40-room inn and resort.
- It is called Shades State Park due to the area being earlier known as “The Shades of Death,” though there is no one explanation as to how it got that name.
- Shades State Park has a small airfield, called the Roscoe Turner Flight Strip, which is no longer in use but that was once used by tourists.
Now that you know more about the park, let’s move on to the best Shades State Park RV sites and campgrounds.
Best Shades State Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
With your RV rental, Shades State Park is a gorgeous place to visit, but where will you park your vehicle? There are many choices for RV camping near Shades State Park, so have a look at the following list to see some of the Shades State Park RV camping options available.
Crawfordsville KOA Journey
Amenities: If you’re bringing your pets along with you on your RV road trip, they’ll love the welcome they receive at one of the most pet-friendly RV parks near Shades State Park. The humans can enjoy their time in the game room or pool (from Memorial Day through Labor Day), try out canoeing, or go horseback riding. Only 10 RV sites have full hookups, so when booking be sure to know which site you’re going to be getting so there are no surprises!
Capacity: 61 RV sites
More Information: Crawfordsville KOA Journey
Charlarose Lake and Campground
Amenities: Open from April 1 to November 1 each year, this seasonal campground has a variety of hookups; only 8 are full hookups. During your stay, you can enjoy catch-and-release fishing along with a basketball court, weekly bingo games, a playground, and a small general store that sells ice cream, candy, and other snacks. If you need it, the store also sells propane. There are a variety of events held throughout the year, so check their website before your visit.
Capacity: 39 RV sites
More Information: Charlarose Lake and Campground
Covered Bridge Campground
Amenities: There’s almost always space available at the Covered Bridge Campground (the only exception being the “Covered Bridge Festival”), and for RV camping near Shades State Park this sort of convenience cannot be overlooked. There’s a shower house and public restroom at Covered Bridge Campground, and the office has items for sale that you might need. The grounds are well-maintained, and most sites have water, electric, and sewer hookups.
Capacity: 49 RV sites
More Information: Covered Bridge Campground
Lake Waveland Park
Amenities: Fans of getting on the water or fishing on its shores will want to give the Lake Waveland Park a second look; there’s a two-lane boat ramp leading into the 360-acre lake, and a camp store and bait shop can handle the needs of anglers. There’s no guarantee that your RV site will have hookups, as Lake Waveland Park is one of the many Shades State Park RV camping options with a mix of primitive campsites and electric campsites.
Capacity: 54 RV sites
More Information: Lake Waveland Park
Peaceful Waters Campground
Amenities: There’s free fishing of bass, bluegill, catfish, and crappie in the serene waters of Peaceful Waters Campground’s private lake. Not into fishing? Borrow a canoe or paddleboat to get out on the water that way. A full seasonal schedule of events can keep the whole family entertained, and with your RV rental, Shades State Park is only a short drive away.
Capacity: 85 RV sites
More Information: Peaceful Waters Campground
Best Time To Visit Shades State Park for RV Camping
Deciding on the best time to visit Shades State Park can seem, at times, like a matter of determining how much of a chance of precipitation you’re willing to deal with. Read on to see why that is, and about what different conditions you can expect each season.
From December to February, daily highs remain at or just above freezing, with overnight lows well into the 20s Fahrenheit. Only those who love cold weather outings will be found at Shades State Park, making winter the best time to visit Shades State Park if you want to avoid the crowds and find plenty of spaces at Shades State Park RV campgrounds. The park is open for day use only from November to March, but don’t let that stop you from hitting any snow-covered trails in the morning or early afternoon.
Spring is the start of the rainy season, which means that when hiking at Shades State Park you may have to deal with mud and slick steps from either melting snow or falling rain. There are, on average, 22 days of precipitation each May. On the brighter side, temperatures begin to warm up considerably from March to May, rising from the low 50s to the low 70s in that span of time. The changes brought on by the arrival of spring make it possibly one of the best times for nature watching at Shades State Park.
You’re just as likely to encounter rainy days in summer at Shades State Park as you are in the spring, with chances for precipitation only going down slightly as summer bows out and makes way for fall. Daytime highs stay steadily in the upper 70s to the low 80s from June to August, but humidity also remains at around 80%, so it’ll feel like summer regardless of lower temperatures. Summer is peak tourist season, so it’s best to book any RV parks near Shades State Park well before the summer if that’s when you’re planning on visiting.
Fall is a great time to visit Shades State Park to take in the trees’ changing colors and enjoy a bit of tranquility. Most visitors to the area will likely be preoccupied with a visit to nearby Turkey Run State Park. Average daily highs at Shades State Park in September are usually in the mid-70s, but that’ll change by November when average daily highs tend to only be in the high 40s. For lovers of nature hikes, you won’t likely find a better season for hitting the trails at Shades State Park than fall.
Things To Do in Shades State Park
While Turkey Run State Park is better known, you can find many of the same things to do in Shades State Park that are also available over at Turkey Run, with the difference being much smaller crowds! Whichever time of year you’re planning to visit, Shades State Park can keep you busy and satisfied!
Hiking. There are 10 different trails of varying difficulty and ruggedness for hikers to enjoy in Shades State Park.
Fishing. The freshwater Sugar Creek flows through Shades State Park, providing opportunities for anglers to fish for smallmouth bass and catfish.
Stargazing. From April through October, as long as the sky isn’t cloudy Shades State Park provides gorgeous views of the nighttime sky, thanks to the park being in a rural area.
Nature Walking. As opposed to more traditional hiking, Shades State Park also offers visitors the chance to visit what was the first dedicated nature preserve in Indiana, the Pine Hills Nature Preserve, and take in the natural environment without disturbing it.
Interpretive Programs. Adults and children can learn about the natural and cultural history of the Shades State Park area through interpretive programs available in the peak season.
Tips for Visiting Shades State Park
You now know about things to do in Shades State Park, but there are a few more Shades State Park facts you should know about before visiting.
- The Shades State Park store sells camping essentials, supplies, small gifts, and more.
- From November through March, Shades State Park is open for day use only (8 a.m. until dusk).
- If you want to go camping in Shades State Park, the Shades State Park RV campgrounds are by reservation only.
- You can make camping reservations up to six months in advance at Shades State Park.
- While there is no RV camping in Shades State Park from November to March, you do have the option of going to nearby Turkey Run State Park during that time.
RV Rental for Shades State Park
With an RV rental, Shades State Park is a hidden Indiana gem to visit, but if you don’t yet have an RV rental, what can you do? That’s easy: Cruise America has a huge fleet of modern, fully-equipped RVs that will get you to wherever you want to go safely and with the best amenities.
If you’re interested in a visit to Shades State Park and need an RV, get in touch with Cruise America as soon as possible to book your vehicle and get on your way!