Some Hoosiers mispronounce the name of this Indiana park as “oo-ba-chee.” However, Ouabache State Park in Bluffton, Indiana is actually named for the Wabash River, which runs through it. The French spelling of Wabash is “Ouabache,” but many travelers mistake it for a name from the time when Miami Indians occupied the area. As one of the many beautiful Indiana State Parks, this northeastern gem is a great destination for a vacation, family getaway or day trip from Indianapolis. 1,104 acres of nature’s beauty stretch on for miles at this Indiana attraction.
Miami Indians once lived all around the Wabash River, and at several other locations throughout the Crossroads of America. Their lands were settled by white Europeans in the early 1800s. In 1821, the first cabin was built on the site, and later the lands were cleared for logging and farming. This plot of soil is home to some pretty extensive Indiana history, and park goers can learn all we know about the Miami Indians and other natural history of the area at the Ouabache State Park Nature Center. The center offers educational seminars, animal encounters and guided trail hikes with interpretive naturalists seasonally.
Other educational Indiana events are held at this park annually. There are often informative seminars on things like how to treat a bug bite and plants growing in the park. Sometimes there are even meetings arranged when people gather to bird watch or watch for flying squirrels. A highlight at the Ouabache State Park is its 20-acre wildlife preserve. It exhibits American Bison in a natural setting, a fascinating site that many people form Indy can only get at the Indianapolis zoo.
Ouabache State Park originated in Bluffton in the 1930s, and it was originally called the Wells County State Forest and Game Preserve. The Civilian Conservation Corps helped make this park a better place, along with so many others throughout Indiana, by constructing buildings and trails for the enjoyment of future generations. Things changed slightly in the early 1960s, when it was renamed the Ouabache State Recreation Area. The land achieved Indiana State Park status in 1983. Today, Ouabache State Park is open year round, and charges a nominal admission fee for visitors.
The CCC is also responsible for building many of the footbridges that allow for access to scenic views along the Ouabache State Park hiking trails. The rugged terrain would be others unreachable without the work of the CCC in carving out the hiking and walking trails. One trail leads guests to a 100 foot fire tower, known to be the best viewpoint in the entire park. A view from the top of the tower is a way to take in the big picture and see most of the park. This park is also unique because it features a 2.75 mile paved bike trail.
Kunkel Lake is centrally located in Ouabache State Park, and it’s a place where visitors can rent canoes, paddle boats and even boats. A launch site is also found nearby, and there is access from Kunkel Lake to the Wabash River. Fishermen trail these waters hoping to hook masses of bluegill and bass.
Indianapolis kids and campers enjoy time to cool off by the pool. Ouabache State Park has an Olympic sized swimming pool with diving boards, a water slide and a wading pool. The rest of the park offers other opportunities to play outdoor sports in Indiana. There is a softball diamond and courts for tennis, basketball and volleyball.
Electric camping sites and a youth tent area are available to campers in the warm weather months. Picnic tables and covered shelters are located throughout Ouabache State Park, some even with their own grill. The Lodge Recreation Building is available to rent for larger gatherings, receptions and parties. It has a kitchen, restrooms, a fireplace and parking for visitors.
Bluffton, Indiana is near some of the coolest must-see attractions in the Midwest. The History Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana is only a short distance from Ouabache State Park. The Mid-America Windmill Museum is just a little farther north from there, and a visit to Kendallville is a unique Hoosier experience. Whether you’re escaping Indianapolis for a short day trip, or an extended vacation, northeast Indiana is a great destination for fun.
Ouabache State Park
4930 East State Road 201