May 26, 2006

2006 Vacation/Travel Supplement

‘Restart Your Engines’:
Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs are fun places to relax

By Mary Ann Wyand

“Restart Your Engines,” Indiana’s new state tourism slogan, reminds many people of fun times spent watching the world-famous Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend.

But St. Mark parishioner Becky Weber of Indianapolis thinks the Hoosier state’s new catch-phrase applies to lots of other outdoor recreational activities all year round, and is a perfect theme to use to promote Indiana’s scenic state parks, reservoirs, forests, fish and wildlife areas and nature preserves.

As marketing director for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Weber invites people to send her an e-mail at to request a free copy of the 2006 Indiana Recreation and Fishing Guide. The 70-page booklet is filled with great ideas for affordable day trips, weekend getaways or longer vacations within easy driving distance.

“While it’s new to tourism, the idea of refreshing and recreating goes back to a 1919 annual report for the Department of Natural Resources,” she said. “Col. Richard Lieber of Indianapolis, who was the director of conservation at the time, said the state parks, where you can recreate and refresh yourself, are [among] the true valuable assets in Indiana. Although he did not use the term ‘restart,’ it’s clearly what he had in mind. It might be a new slogan, but it’s not a new idea.”

Weber said the Indiana State Parks network is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year with the theme “Wish You Were Here,” and there are lots of improvements at the scenic parks and inns.

“Clifty Inn at Clifty Falls State Park in Madison is the biggest news this year,” Weber said. “We just finished spending about $9 million to update the inn there. We took down the old river-view wing that was not attached and reoriented it toward the view of the Ohio River and downtown Madison, which is very pretty.”

She said the remodeled inn was dedicated on April 7 and features many modern amenities.

Big Clifty Falls continues to please hikers with its roaring waterfall in the wake of spring rains and more sedate pace during the drier summer months, she said. Add in the newly remodeled inn and the beautiful park offers a memorable vacation experience close to home.

Prince of Peace Church, located at 413 E. Second St. in Madison, is a short drive from the park, and Catholics can easily attend Mass there at 6 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. or 10 a.m. on Sundays from June through August.

Weber also recommends that people drive to Lafayette, Ind., to see the new Prophetstown State Park and privately held Historic Prophetstown farm adjacent to the park property.

Prophetstown is a completely different type of state park, she said, because it recaptures the former prairie environment with lots of native flowers that are common to the region rather than wooded hiking trails found at other state parks. New picnic and playground facilities as well as paved bike trails make it fun for the whole family.

Weber also refers people to Harmonie State Park near New Harmony, Ind., as well as Charlestown State Park in Clark County, Lincoln State Park in Lincoln City, Ind., and Morgan Monroe State Forest near Bloomington.

She also likes Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis, which offers a Pete Dye-designed golf course and trails for horseback riding as well as overnight accommodations at the former officers’ residences.

“It’s easy to reserve family cabins or rooms at the seven park inns online or with a telephone operator,” Weber said. “Charlestown has full hook-up camping sites, and is an incredible staging point to see the fossils at Falls of the Ohio State Park near Clarksville or visit Louisville.”

(For more information about state park inns, log on to

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