Indiana offers magnificent public lands for the enjoyment of all. If you’re not visiting these properties and taking advantage of the endless outdoor opportunities available, then you are missing out on chances to experience unique and wonderful destinations while creating memories that can last a lifetime.

A perfect chance to learn more about our state parks, reservoirs and forests is coming up soon. On Saturday, Sept. 30, in recognition of National Public Lands Day, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is waiving entrance fees to Indiana’s state park properties and state forest recreation areas.

Even if you are a regular visitor to our incredible state-owned lands, these properties are always changing. Improvements and expansions happen regularly. There are new exhibits in nature centers to enjoy, additional trails to hike and bike, and other recreational opportunities are added each year for your enjoyment.

And chances are you haven’t visited all of these properties. Make a point of using this free pass to visit a state property you’ve never been to before.

All of the Indiana DNR properties are special, but over the years, I have developed my list of favorites. If you have never visited these parks, then maybe Sept. 30 is the day you do so:

Turkey Run State Park is a special place to paddle a canoe. Mention canoeing and state parks in the same sentence, and most informed minds immediately turn to Turkey Run.

Located just south of Crawfordsville, Turkey Run straddles Sugar Creek, which is perhaps the most scenic and often canoed stretch of water in the state.

Potato Creek State Park has it all. The trail system is one of the best. Worster Lake is 327 acres and offers excellent fishing.

Wildlife watching, swimming at the beach and visiting the nature center are all fun, and the campground is impeccable with 287 electric sites.

Patoka Lake just may be the jewel of Southern Indiana fishing. Surrounded by a wild and scenic shoreline, the timber-filled waters of Patoka Lake are home to numerous species of fish. While crappies are the most sought after species in the lake, bass fishing and stripper fishing at Patoka are also second to none.

McCormick’s Creek State Park, our state’s first state park, is an excellent hiking destination. The west to northwest border of the park is along the West Fork of the White River shoreline. The park offers an incredible trail system and a beautiful lodge where you can stay and dine.

If you visit a property and enjoy your experience, then consider purchasing an Annual Entrance Pass. This pass opens the doors to endless opportunities to explore properties across the state, and they are really an incredible value at only $50 for residents and $70 for non-residents.

Seniors (65 and older) get a break. The Golden Hoosier Passport is only $25.

Normal gate fees for most properties are $7 per day for an in-state vehicle and $9 per day for an out-of- state vehicle. These prices apply to all state parks and state-managed lakes, with the exception of Indiana Dunes State Park, Falls of the Ohio State Park’s Interpretive Center and Prophetstown State Park. Watercraft and horse permits are an additional fee.

There will be many special activities taking place on Sept. 30 to keep visitors busy.

For a complete list of programs, visit calendar.dnr.IN.gov and look on Sept. 30.

See you down the trail.