The holidays are over, but winter has just begun at Indiana state parks and reservoirs. These state properties offer a wealth of opportunities for exercise, entertainment or a weekend of relaxation with trails to hike, vistas to enjoy, winter birds to see and lots of family fun.

“Put on your winter coat, warm up the car and join the fun,” suggested Ginger Murphy, DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs. See your first Indiana bald eagle at Eagle Watch events held at Patoka Lake, Monroe Lake and Raccoon Lake. Listen to lively music during Patoka’s Music and Jam Session. Take a ride down the refrigerated toboggan at Pokagon State Park.

Flying down Pokagon State Park’s refrigerated toboggan slide has been a tradition for winter enthusiasts for 70 years. For groups on Friday nights, that flight just got cheaper.

Running through the end of February 2006, Pokagon State Park will offer a Friday Night Flight Special for groups on Indiana’s only twin-track refrigerated toboggan slide.

Groups will receive one free toboggan rental for every two toboggans rented. The normal fee of $10.00 per toboggan, per hour, applies. Sleds will be rented on a first-come-first-served basis, and supplies are limited.

“With the Friday Night Flight special, each tobogganer may rent up to six sleds and pay for just four,” explained Fred Wooley, interpretive naturalist at Pokagon. “Don’t forget to bring a driver’s license or photo ID as a deposit. With one ID, you can rent up to four toboggans.”

The slide is open from 5-10 p.m. on Friday nights. It is also open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays. The toboggan slide is not open when temperatures drop to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Cash, checks and Visa/Master Card are accepted.

While tobogganing, groups may warm up in the toboggan warming center and fuel up at the center’s concession stand. The park’s Potawatomi Inn also provides hot meals in two restaurants and a winter lodge atmosphere around a wood-burning fireplace. For room reservations call 1-877-563-4371, or visit www.indianainns.com. For further information, call the park at 260-833-2012.

Turkey Run Inn will host a Sweetheart Getaway on Valentine’s Day, and Clifty Falls and Potato Creek state parks both will hold bluebird nesting box-building workshops before spring. When there’s snow, the sledding hill at Fort Harrison State Park is a popular destination. The Wine Tasting Getaway, along with the bridge or euchre tournaments at the Canyon Inn at McCormick’s Creek State Park provide a winter break, and hunter education classes at Roush Lake can provide an excuse to visit the new shooting range. At all state parks and reservoir properties, Hoosiers can enjoy the hikes, talks, crafts and games that are the hallmark of the interpretive services.

Indiana state park inns offer a special “Pay for One, Stay for Two” program. Visitors can enjoy two consecutive nights for the price of one, Sunday through Thursday, through February 24, 2006.

Camping is still available in many places for hardy souls who enjoy the brisk temperatures. In most cases, campers must provide their own water supply, and restrooms are closed. However, the modern campgrounds at Hardy Lake, Pokagon State Park and Patoka Lake each have a heated restroom that remains open in winter.

Check out a list of winter events and activities at www.in.gov/dnr/winter. For a complete schedule of interpretive programs at each site, visit www.interpretiveservices.IN.gov or call individual properties. Make reservations at state park inns at www.indianainns.com.

Some events require a small fee. Donations to help defray the cost of supplies for events are always welcome. The standard entrance fee ($4/car Mon-Thurs; $5/car Sat-Sun; $7/car for out-of-state license plates) is in effect during the winter season in most locations.

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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