Turkey Run State Park in Indiana: Nature Paradise Just Across the Border
Families with children of all ages can find some outdoor, nature-loving fun at Turkey Run
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as of June 12, 2020, all Indiana state parks are open, including Turkey Run. All visitors must follow posted restrictions and practice social distancing. The outdoor public pool at Turkey Run will remain closed for the 2020 season. Drinking fountains remain off. Visitors will be turned away when available parking is full; follow Turkey Run on social media for up-to-date capacity info.
We love Central Illinois and have no shortage of places to get out in nature with our kids near Champaign-Urbana. But there’s a nature fan’s paradise located just across the border into Indiana and you can drive there in about 75 minutes from Champaign-Urbana — not bad at all! And we know Champaign-Urbana families with small children and teenagers alike seek a day at Turkey Run to float, hike, and just enjoy the sunshine and open air.
You can make it a short day trip, a full day or a complete camping experience. We’ll break down the different things you can do at Turkey Run so you can plan the trip that will work best for your family.
Turkey Run State Park is located in Marshall, Ind., in Parke County. It is open every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time, year-round, with some park features open seasonally only. (Reminder: Indiana is one hour ahead of Illinois.) Admission is $9 per vehicle for non-Indiana residents, per day.
A perfect activity for your very first visit to Turkey Run — and likely one of the reasons you’ll want to come back again and again — is the hiking trails are fantastic. Taking you over suspension bridges, weaving through sandstone canyons and exploring waterside locations throughout, the hiking trails offer something for everyone.
The suspension bridge leads you from the parking area to the majority of the hiking trails at Turkey Run. This will likely be the time you will be in closest proximity to other visitors so you will want to have those masks handy.
There’s a handy guide on their website that will help you choose your hike. Stick to the easy trail (trail 11) if you have strollers or infant carriers, or you’re a family of novice hikers. For the more adventurous hikers, choose trail 3 and/or 4 on your visit to go through the Punch Bowl, pass through canyons, climb up waterfalls and ladders galore (trail 4).
Floating and Canoeing
You’ll hear of a lot of people who venture out to Turkey Run just to float in a tube or canoe/kayak their way down the river. Older kids especially love this activity! And it can be a relaxing day for parents, too. There are a number of canoe outposts along the water all through this part of Indiana; we have gone through Sugar Creek Campground and Canoe Rentals as a great spot. Canoe trips last between two and six hours; the 3-mile float trip in tubes lasts about two hours. It is highly recommended you make reservations in advance because the weekends can get especially busy.
Camping and Lodging at Turkey Run State Park
There are a number of options for camping in and near Turkey Run. Within the park itself, you’ll find 213 sites with electric hook-up and a camp store for your needs. Make reservations here. This is in addition to the many private outfitters in the area (listed here).
The Turkey Run Inn has the comfortable amenities you would hope for in a modern lodging experience, including a full-service dining room. Book cabins and rooms at the Turkey Run Inn by clicking here.
Sugar Creek is a popular place to go fishing. Please note that because this is an Indiana state park, you’ll need an Indiana fishing license here. A non-resident can get a one-day license for $9. Kids and teens under the age of 18 do not need a fishing license. Click here to get your one-day (or one week or annual) Indiana fishing license.
Other things you can do at Turkey Run
In addition to the things listed above, you will also find these activities at Turkey Run State Park:
- visit the nature center
- go horseback riding, or bring your own horse to the trails
- play tennis, basketball or sand volleyball
- splash at the swimming pool for $3 per person (not open in 2020)
Grab a bite or pack a picnic
Narrows Restaurant at Turkey Run Inn is open daily to the public for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. You’ll also find several other dining options up and down the creek. We ate at “Up the Creek Boat-ique” on our visit and were pleased with what we got after a full day of hiking. They have entertainment on summer weekends sometimes, too.