Central Indiana Birding Opportunities - Raccoon State Recreation Area

Raccoon SRA is located on a peninsula that divides Cecil Harden lake almost in half. This peninsula is 650 acres consisting of upland woods cut through with steep marshy lowlands carved out by glacial melt waters. Sandstone canyons and cliffs along the western shoreline northeast boundary provide habitat to numerous species.


Native forest and large rock outcrops line the upper part of Big Raccoon Creek. Cecil M. Harden Lake resulted from the damming of the creek for flood control. The lake also provides recreation, wildlife management and economic benefits. A variety of fish, flora and fauna can be viewed at the property.

The coves created by these outcrop ridges provide sheltered places for migratory waterfall in spring and fall. Fluctuating lake levels that time of year provide a mix of muddy shallows and deep water for a variety of shore birds and waterfowl. Flood damaged trees along the shoreline provide habitat and perches for many species of bird. Several eagle nests around the lake and a year-round Bald Eagle presence.

Spring Migration: Mergansers, Loons, White Pelicans, Bald Eagles, numerous species of duck and shore bird, and the occasional Black Crowned Night Heron or Sandhill Crane.

Fall Migration: Eagles, Sandhill Cranes, Egrets, Greater White-fronted Goose, mergansers, and half a dozen other duck species including Wood Ducks, Mallards and Rudy Ducks.

eBird Hotspot Link:

Total Birding Time:
2-4 hours

Best Times to Bird: 
Spring and fall migration offer the best birding, but summer breeding species can make the State Recreation Area
 worth a visit.

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Address: 1588 S. Raccoon Parkway, Rockville, IN 47872. The address leads you directly into the SRA through the main entrance gate.
Hours: The lake and nearby roads are open 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Ownership: Owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; leased and operated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks 
Admission: Indiana State Park entrance fees apply at Raccoon SRA. $7 in-state vehicles, $9 out of state vehicles. No gate fees in certain off-season weekdays.
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. A summary of property rules can be found at stateparks.IN.gov/6468.htm. RM units 3, 4, and 5 located on the southern side of the lake west of the dam are seasonal hunting areas. Caution should be exercised during any active hunting season, especially deer and turkey season.
Nearby Amenities: The State Recreation Area has modern and primitive camping, year round primitive restrooms, flush toilets in summer season, a beach, a boat rental, campstore, 6 trails, 5 boat ramps and numerous picnic spots and shelters.
Accessibility: Paved parking lots offer close parking and views of the lake.
Website: stateparks.in.gov
Phone Number: (765) 344-1412

Written by: Ross Plotkin
Photo by: Indiana DNR