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Indiana State Parks Centennial Celebration

Hesitation Point, Brown County State Park

In 2016, Indiana turned 200 and Indiana State Parks celebrated a century of “making memories naturally” for visitors. When Indiana celebrated its centennial in 1916, Hoosiers received a memorable birthday gift—a brand new state park system. McCormick’s Creek became the first state park in the summer of 1916, and Turkey Run was purchased later that year. Today, the system has grown to 32 properties that hosts about 16 million visitors each year.

The centennial celebrations kicked off on Dec. 16, 2015, with special events across the state and the proclamation of Indiana State Parks Day by the Governor.


"Origins: The Richard Lieber Story" describes the very beginnings of the Indiana State Park system.

Our Second 100 Years:  The Celebration Continues

Can you still be a part of our ongoing celebration? Yes. Here’s how:

  • Spend time outside with your kids or grandkids. Help them make great memories in our state parks and prepare them to care for our parks when they become adults. Try our Hoosier Quest program or get ideas for outdoor activities from our Children’s Bill of Outdoor Rights.
  • Take our Second Century Survey and tell us what our Indiana State Park priorities should be as we plan for the next several years.
  • Take part in our 2017 Fitness Challenge. This year we honor the 50th anniversary of the Nature Preserves Act and invite you to hike 50 miles in Indiana’s dedicated nature preserves. Thirty-eight are inside state parks. Download your log sheet and get started today.
  • Use our downloadable centennial curriculum with your students or youth group. This 11-unit tool includes background information and great idea activities for engaging students with Indiana history, viewed through the lens of Indiana State Parks’ development.
  • Enjoy the 2017 Arts in the Parks series. This two-year program, established in partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission, brings a variety of artists to our properties for public events.
  • Shop online for our centennial merchandise for as long as it lasts.
  • Pick up a copy of our “First 100 Years” history brochure at your favorite property or check out our history online.
  • Get your own copy of “Indiana State Parks: Treasures in Your Own Backyard” at innsgifts.com. Not sure you want to buy it? Check out these video clips on YouTube: Documentary OverviewSpring FlowersFall Music. (links are on current page.)

Celebration Successes

More than 2 million people participated in Indiana State Parks centennial activities in 2016. Here’s a quick summary:

  • 38,000 participants in property centennial celebration activities.
  • 11 brick and mortar Centennial Legacy Projects.
  • 2,000 entries in Fall Centennial Photo Contest.
  • 250 geocachers who completed the 32-property challenge.
  • 1,675 First Day Hike participants.
  • 2,000 online views and 700 downloads of the centennial curriculum.
  • 380 history programs attended by more than 13,500 people.
  • 140 #100Wordsfor100Years history posts on Facebook and Twitter, with a reach of more than 1.9 million.
  • 240 free annual passes distributed to Indiana library districts; checked out more than 1,700 times.
  • More than 20 oral history interviews with past and current staff collected and sent to the National Archives through Traditional Arts Indiana’s “Ranger Lore” project.
  • 128 Arts in the Parks programs with more than 17,000 participants.
  • More than 25,000 miles completed in the 2016 Fitness Challenge.
  • 33 Centennial Booklets produced by Outdoor Indiana Magazine.
  • More than 36,000 page views of our centennial site at INStateParks100.com.
  • 445 acres added to state parks through the Bicentennial Nature Trust.
  • 301 birders saw more than 100 species in the Bicentennial Birding Challenge, sponsored by Indiana Audubon Society.
  • Indy Hiking Club members and guests hiked more than 14,000 miles in Indiana State Parks.
  • 250 state park directors and staff visited Indiana for the National Association of State Park Directors annual conference.
  • Plein air artist Rick Wilson painted every state park (and some fish & wildlife areas, too).