Hardin Ridge Recreation Area


Area Status: Open
Hardin Ridge Camper

Hardin Ridge Recreation Area is located on Monroe Lake south of Bloomington, Indiana. This recreation area offers​ six campground loops, two picnic areas and three shelterhouses,​ two of which are available for reservation, a three​ lane boat launch, a swim beach with shelter and showerhouse,​ hiking trails, and two rental cabins on the lake. The​ campground loops offer modern restroom and shower​ facilities. This area is operated by a concessionaire under a​ special use permit issued by the Forest Service from mid-​April through mid to late October.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Effective Oct.23, 2022 at noon eastern until April 13, 2023 - Campground under Forest Service Management. All campground loops CLOSED except Southern Point. Southern Point will remain open (showerhouses will be closed, no electric available, vault toilets and centralized water will be available) until December 1, 2022 with a $10 per night fee. There will be no day-use fee charged, free access to day-use of the boat ramp and trails.
Operational Hours: Open for hiking and other activities year-round. 
  • Campsites available beginning April 15 until October 15. 
  • Campground quiet hours are from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am 
Reservations: Camping and Shelters
  • Reservations for cabins, picnic shelters, and some campsites sites may be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777. 
  • Some sites are only non-reservabe and only available as first come, first served. 
  • A three day reservation window is required. All sites, cabins, and shelters may be available as a walkup site if not reserved within that time period. 
  • Cabins can be reserved from May 15 until September 15.  They are available first come, first served at the gate from April 15 to May 14, and September 16 to October 15.
Fees: Day Use Fees
  • Required from 4/15 - 10/31. 
  • $5/day for each vehicle 
  • Buses are $5 for the driver plus $1/person  (no passes accepted)
  • Annual passes available
  • Discounts available for access, senior, and military pass holders. 
Camping Fees
  • Walk-to and primitive sites - $21/night
  • Electric sites - $28/night
  • Electric and water sites - $31/night
  • Double sites with electric - $44/night
  • Cabin rentals - $55 per night
  • Campsites are allowed one vehicle. $5/ night for extra vehicles
  • Discounts are available to access and senior pass holders for single sites only.
Shelter Rental 
  • $40/day from April 15 until October 15
  • Day use fee applies to each additional vehicle
Permit Info: Trail Permits
  • Hoosier National Forest trail permits are NOT required to ride bikes on the 2-mile long Hardin Ridge trail that runs parallel to the main campground road.
Fishing and Boating
  • Indiana state fishing permits are required for fishing. 
  • Indiana launch permit required for launching boats on Lake Monroe. 
  • Boaters are required to follow Indiana state boat operating and registration requirements.
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Beach Rules
  • No glass containers allowed on the beach
  • No pets allowed on the beach
Firewood Restrictions 
  • Any firewood brought onto National Forest System land must meet ONE of the firewood requirements on Hoosier National Forest.
  • Use of on-site firewood must only be from dead, downed material. Standing trees, living or dead, may not be cut or defaced.
NO HUNTING IS ALLOWED IN THE RECREATION AREA. A complete list of rules and regulations are posted on bulletin boards in the campground and are provided upon check-in at the recreation area. 
Closest Towns: Bloomington, IN
Water: Centralized drinking water is available throughout the recreation area and at some campsites.
Restroom: Modern facilities and vault toilets available in day use and campground areas. Cabins are vault only
Passes: Day-Use and Annual Passes
  • Day-use or annual passes are required April 15 through October 31 and are available at the gatehouse, or instructions provided if gatehouse is not staffed.
  • Day-use and annual passes may be used at Hardin Ridge, Indian-Celina, and Tipsaw Lake Recreation Areas. 
  • Day-use and annual passes do not cover separate camping fees.
Interagency Passes
Operated By: FIND Outdoors

General Information

Directions:
  • From Ind. 446 south of Bloomington, turn on Chapel Hill​ Road. Proceed to the entrance on the right.​
  • From Ind. 37 south of Bloomington, turn east on​ Guthrie Road. Turn right on Chapel Hill Rd and proceed​ to the entrance on the left.

Address

6464 Hardin Ridge Road
Heltonville, IN  47436.


General Notes:

Additional Resources


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Sand Play

A 300-foot swimming beach on Lake Monroe offers a place for children to play and swimmers to sunbathe and enjoy the water. The beach offers a combination of sand and sun, with a shady grass-covered hillside above. There are no lifeguards on duty. No glass containers or pets are allowed in the beach area.

During times when the water is high at Lake Monroe- the beach will be closed. Call the Hardin Ridge Gatehouse at 812-837-9453 to confirm if the beach is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day if in doubt. 

Fees: Parking fee for Hardin Ridge Area.
Hours of Operation: Seasonally, Generally Memorial Day through Labor Day; 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.  Beach generally opens on Memorial Day. Call the Gatehouse at 812-837-9368 for confirmation that it is open, especially if the water is high.
Rental info: None

Mountain Biking

Areas for Mountain Biking at Hardin Ridge Recreation Area

Road Cycling

Bicycles may be ridden on the campground loop roads and on the Hardin Ridge Trail. The area is a popular place for bike riders. Most of the recreation area is fairly level except for the hill down to the lake which is very steep and could be dangerous for bikers.

Areas for Road Cycling at Hardin Ridge Recreation Area

Campground Camping

Hardin Ridge includes six shady campground loops, with a total of 203 sites (36 of which are walk-in sites). All loops are open in summer months, but some may be closed at other times of the year. With the exception of Eads and Southern Point, the areas have electric hookups at about half the sites (walk-in sites do not have hookups).

Modern restrooms with shower facilities are available in camping loops along with vault toilets. Centralized water, flush toilets, and showers are provided. Some campsites may be reserved by calling the toll free number below. They are otherwise available on a first come basis. Camping loops are generally full on weekends.  Reservations are highly recommended.

Campground Rules

  • A maximum of 2 vehicles and 8 people are allowed per site. Extra vehicles are $5/vehicle.
  • Campground quiet hours are from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am 

Additional Resources

RV Camping

Sites can accomodate RVs and trailers of various lengthes. See our Campground Guide and Map for specific information, indluding electric hookups and lengths, of each site. 

Do not dump gray water and sewage on the ground. There is a dump station located near the gatehouse.

Cabin Rentals

The Hardin Ridge Recreation Area has two primitive cabins available for rent. Each cabin has capacity for 7 people.  These cabins are available April through October and are reservable. See the fees the reservations sections above for more information. 

Cabins have beds (but no mattresses or bedding) and a table. Most best are bunk beds but there is one double. Cabins have outside drinking water. Both cabins have electricity. Both cabins are serviced by vault toilet facility.

Lake and Pond Fishing

Anglers fish along the Hardin Ridge Recreation Area bank regularly at Lake Monroe or fish in small fishing craft just off shore. Trails snake along the day use area near the shoreline which allow access to the riprapped shoreline where people are often seen fishing. Fishing is allowed anywhere along the lakeshore within the recreational complex. Several quiet inlets provide secluded fishing holes along the lake's banks.

Fish Species Species found in Lake Monroe include blue gill, striped bass, large mouth bass, and crappie.
Fishing Mode Bank or boat
Fishing Platform none
Cleaning Station none
Accessible Platform none
Water Temperature Depends on season.
Fishing Method Fishing is done with bait and lures.
Water/Flow Level Water flucuates with rainfall and whether they releasing it from the dam at high flow.

Day Hiking

Areas for Day Hiking at Hardin Ridge Recreation Area

Viewing Wildlife

Viewing Scenery

There is an overlook on Hardin Ridge Road that is spectacular in any season. It gives visitors a high vantage point of the 10,750-acre lake, the largest lake in Indiana with colorful marinas across the water and a vast expanse of forest. The entire area is forested hardwood and well shaded to give the visitors the feel of being in the deep woods. In spring the dogwoods and redbud bring bright color to the forest and in fall the colors are vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red.

Special Feature Overlook of Lake Monroe on Hardin Ridge Road

Visitor Programs

During the spring and summer seasons, visitors are encouraged to attend our interpretive programs. Programs are offered at the Hardin Ridge amphitheater or in some cases a few programs may be held at the beach or other locations. For more information on programs at Hardin Ridge contact 812-275-5987.

Interpretive Areas

Areas for Interpretive Areas at Hardin Ridge Recreation Area

Picnicking

Hardin Ridge has 60 picnic sites with two shelter houses overlooking the lake. Another shelter house is available next to the amphitheater. Shelters may be reserved from mid May through early October for a cost of $25 by calling the reservation system, or are otherwise available on a first-come basis. There is ample space in fields around the picnic sites for games and both have a lovely view of Lake Monroe.

The shelterhouse next to the amphitheater has electrical outlets.

No. of Sites 60 picnic tables, 3 picnic shelters
Reservation Info Reservations for picnic shelters can be made by calling toll free the National Reservation System at 1-877-444-6777 (TTY is 1-877-833-6777.) Reservations are only made Memorial Day through Labor Day. The fee for making the reservation is $10. There is a minimum cancellation fee of $10.00. Reservation information is available at: http://www.recreation.gov. If not previously reserved, occupancy is on a first come basis.
Fire Information grills are available with each site

Group Picnicking

Hardin Ridge has 60 picnic sites and three shelter houses. Two of the shelters overlook the lake, one is next to the amphitheater. Shelters may be reserved from mid May through early October for a cost of $25 by calling the reservation system, or are otherwise available on a first come basis. There is ample space in fields around the picnic shelters by the lake for games. All visitors must purchase a daily parking permit even if they're with a group which has reserved a shelter.

The shelter near the amphitheater has electrical outlets.

No. of Sites Three shelterhouses but 60 picnic tables, many in close proximity.
Reservation Info Reservations for picnic shelters can be made by calling toll free the National Reservation System at 1-877-444-6777 (TTY is 1-877-833-6777.) Reservations are only made Memorial Day through Labor Day. The fee for making the reservation is $10. There is a minimum cancellation fee of $10.00. Reservation information is available at: http://www.recreation.gov. If not previously reserved, occupancy is on a first come basis.
Group Shelter Three shelters
Fire Information Grills are available with the picnic shelters and near every picnic table.
No. of Accessible sites All the shelterhouses are considered accessible including walkways, toilets, tables and firerings.

Boating - Motorized

Monroe Reservoir is a 10,750-acre lake, the largest lake in Indiana. The 3-lane launch ramp is open year-round with a 75 vehicle/trailer parking area. A fully accessible loading dock is also provided at the boat ramp.

Launch Ramps 3 lane ramp
Trailer Parking 75 vehicle-trailer parking area.
Type of Craft Motorized boats of most sizes may be launched from this ramp.
Motor Type no restrictions
Fuel availability none
Water/Flow Level Varies
Marina/Mooring none

Boating - Non-Motorized

Monroe Reservoir is a 10,750-acre lake, the largest lake in Indiana. The 3-lane launch ramp is open year-round with a 75 vehicle/trailer parking area. A fully accessible loading dock is also provided at the boat ramp.

Launch Ramps 3 lane ramp
Trailer Parking 75 space vehicle/trailer parking area
Size Restrictions none
Fuel availability none
Corrals none
Water/Flow Level Varies
Marina/Mooring none

Swimming

A 300-foot swimming beach and bathhouse are generally open Memorial Day through Labor Day. The beach offers a combination of sand and sun, or a shady grass-covered hillside. There are no lifeguards and no glass containers or pets are allowed.

Clothing Requirements Clothing required
Water Temperature depends on air temperature
Pool Size lake - large swimming area roped off
Water/Flow Level Varies
Fees: Parking fee for Hardin Ridge applies
Hours of Operation: The beach is open 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. seasonally.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Latitude : 
39.01785

  Longitude : 
-86.44974