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Your guide to Patoka Lake
Welcome to Patoka Lake
With 8,800 acres of gleaming fresh water to explore, Indiana’s Patoka Lake is a true gem for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers alike. As the second-largest reservoir in the state, there’s plenty of room for waterskiing, tubing, fishing, or just hanging out beachside with your toes in the sand.
While there’s no shortage of humans to be found around the area when the weather’s warm, Patoka Lake is the perfect destination for spotting some of Indiana’s coolest creatures, including freshwater jellyfish, river otters, and bald eagles.
The lake is a course of endless adventure, but be sure to spend some time exploring the surrounding wilderness as well, either through one of Patoka’s hiking trails or at neighboring Hoosier National Forest, a massive preserve on the eastern edge of the lake. If you’re craving a dose of civilization to help break up all of that time in nature, Patoka Lake is close to two irresistibly quaint towns. Cruise 30 minutes north to French Lick or 30 minutes westward to Jasper to stock up on essentials before returning to this slice of Hoosier paradise.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Patoka Lake
While Indiana tends to get frigid during winter, Patoka Lake is ultimately a pretty great destination year-round. If you’re here for swimming and boating, you’ll certainly be most comfortable from June to August, though keep in mind that it’s peak tourist season so you’ll have to deal with crowds. Anglers flock to the lake in spring, when the temperature is cooler and the crappies are biting. Hang around in the fall and you’ll be treated to some of Indiana’s most brilliant foliage, attracting leaf-peeping day-trippers from near and far. Tourism is typically lowest during the winter, but there are still a lot of activities available across the region. Hiking trails are open (and empty), plus you should look out for cross-country skiing opportunities just northeast of the lake, as well as ice fishing when the weather reaches its frostiest.
Top things to do in Patoka Lake
Patoka Lake Nature Center
Hikers should take note: This is the best destination for exploring the wild heart of Patoka Lake. Ambitious explorers can tackle the 6.5-mile Main Trail, while the less athletically inclined may prefer the far shorter Garden Rock Loop Trail. Pick up maps and hiking recommendations at the interpretive center.
Dubois County Museum
Just north of Jasper, this institution has been educating visitors about the background and history of Dubois County since 1999. From its large collections of 18th-century farming tools to a wealth of taxidermied animals in the Wildlife Adventures Room, the museum houses more than 41,000 items in its collection.
French Lick West Baden Museum
If you’re hoping to brush up on your Hoosier history, there’s no better destination than the West Baden Museum. Visitors here can peruse a wide array of exhibits highlighting the area’s storied history, which includes its former status as a lucrative illegal gambling hub, and the home of one of professional basketball’s all-time best players.