Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Get Out of Town!
Prophetstown State Park. From my Flickr photostream.
Exploring the natural treasures of Indiana means more than just hitting the state parks. Though they're less tourist-oriented, state forests often host fine hiking trails. And though they may be smaller than some folks' yards, nature preserves protect stunning bits of what Indiana was before our predecessors began settling, farming, and paving the land.
My go-to source for information on Indiana's natural areas is Eric Thiel's Get Out of Town!, which collects all of Indiana's natural areas, providing first-hand reports of many of them. A clickable Indiana map makes it easy to narrow down your choices by county, and he also offers information broken down by property type (state forest, reservoir, nature preserve, etc.) and what sort of activities the intrepid adventurer is looking to engage in.
His profiles of natural areas are really valuable, and don't mince words. If a place is boring, tailored more for RV traffic than rugged adventure-seekers, he lets you know. Flora and fauna, quirks of local history, parking difficulties - Eric provides pertinent information about all the places he's visited. For many of those he hasn't, other folks have sent in their own reports.
Just as Eric is devoted to sharing those thankfully uncivilized parts of Indiana's landscape, his website is modeled after what the internet was like in the 90's. Devoid of animation, ads, and other flashy hoo-ha of the current web, it's a neat digital reflection of the experience of stepping onto a hiking trail and losing the trappings of modern life for a little while.
Hop on over to Get Out of Town, find some obscure scrap of scruffy Indiana nature to visit, and give Eric a big high-five for doing his thing. And if you head out to one of these spots, send a report to him about what you've seen.