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Boondocking at Blackwell Horse Camp – Hoosier National Forest

Last week we discovered Saddle Lake campground in the southern tip of the Hoosier National Forest and thoroughly enjoyed our boondocking experience. Thanks to, we found Blackwell Horse Camp located on our route 100 miles north and decided to give it a try.

Blackwell is also part of the Hoosier National Forest, but it has a much different feel. Its a huge grassy field with a figure-8 driving loop. Catering to horse riders, there is a horse trail and multiple corrals.

Don’t let the title “Horse Camp” steer you away, though. During our stay here we saw many tent & rv campers simply enjoying the solitude.

Here’s the breakdown:


Location: Heltonville, Indiana (18 miles south of Bloomington)

GPS: 39.01682, -86.38970

Price: Free, we’re assuming there’s a 14 day limit, but it wasn’t posted anywhere.

Date/Temp: May 30 – June 2. It was hot! The highs came in around 90 degrees, and lows in the mid 60s.

Amenities: This is a primitive campground, offering no hookups or water on site. There are 3 restroom locations, offering a total of 5 vault toilets. A large pavilion is located at the entrance and would be perfect for a family cookout, or group pot-luck. There are fire pits scattered around the park – but the sites are mostly DIY parking in an open field.

Noise: Despite the lack of trees, this has been a very quiet park due to the vast space. We’re 100 yards (or more) away from the nearest neighbor. The evenings are peaceful, accompanied by the sounds of the forest behind us.


Wifi/Cell: We receive three bars of AT&T 3g. Our T-Mobile hotspot receives no service, although their coverage map shows 4g LTE coverage.

Grocery/Errands: We drove into Bloomington (18 miles) to sightsee and ship some products. Its a college town with lots of shopping and eating options – but, gas is really expensive there ($2.51/gal). We drove to Bedford, 20 miles south, to fill up on cheaper gas ($2.19/gal).

Dog Friendly: River has a blast playing in the open field. We played fetch, she pounced on critters, and laid around in the sun.

Entertainment: Bloomington has a thriving music scene, multiple theaters, and a comedy club. If you’re into indie music, two great record labels are headquartered in town (Secretly Canadian & Jagjaguar). Bon Iver, The War on Drugs, and Phosphorescent are just a few of the artists signed to them. In fact, The Tallest Man on Earth had a show in Bloomington this weekend. 

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