Gone Outdoors

Camping at Morgan-Monroe

by Richard Corrigan

Indiana has no shortage of destinations for those who would like nothing better than to disappear into the wilderness for a few days, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more fitting spot than Morgan-Monroe State Forest (in.gov). With more than 35 square miles of towering hardwood trees and endless opportunities for hiking, fishing and picnicking, Morgan-Monroe has far more to offer than can be explored in a single day. Fortunately, the forest also has a variety of camping options, allowing you to stay overnight in a tent, RV or rustic backwoods cabin.


Morgan-Monroe State Forest has two main campgrounds. The Mason Ridge Campground, located north of the main forest office, is the primary campground with about 20 campsites. An additional 10 sites are available at the Oak Ridge Campground, which is used as a spillover camping area when Mason Ridge fills up on busy weekends. Both campgrounds are quiet, secluded and shaded by tall trees. Camping for larger groups is also available at the Scout Ridge Youth Tent Campground, which has six large campsites commonly used for scouts and other groups.


The Mason Ridge and Oak Ridge campgrounds are open to both tents and RVs, but the campsites do not have electricity or hookups of any kind. Each campsite includes a picnic table and campfire ring, and vault toilets and seasonal drinking water are available at both campgrounds. A fee is charged for camping in Morgan-Monroe State Forest, and you must register at the forest office upon arrival. Reservations are neither required nor accepted, and campsites are available on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.

Draper Cabin

Morgan-Monroe State Forest is also home to one rustic backwoods cabin, known as the Draper Cabin, which is available for rental year round. The accommodations are minimal to say the least, and aside from an outdoor vault toilet and an indoor fireplace for warmth and cooking, the cabin has nothing more than a roof overhead and a floor below. You must bring all your own linens, toiletries and cooking utensils, and you may gather firewood from the forest floor. You must reserve the cabin in advance, and you can contact the state forest for rates and availability.

Hiking and Backcountry Camping

Hiking is a main attraction at the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, and more than 25 miles of trails wind through 24,000 scenic, rugged acres. The Low Gap Trail may be of particular interest to overnight visitors, as this hiking trail includes a backcountry camping area where you can pitch your tent and stay the night. Camping in the backcountry area is free of charge, but you must first register at the forest office. The Low Gap Trail begins at the trailhead on Forest Road and traverses 10 miles of moderate to difficult terrain before looping back to its starting point. The backcountry area is a little over 3.5 miles from the trailhead.