Central Indiana Birding Opportunities - Fort Harrison State Park

Fort Harrison State Park opened in 1996, after the federal government gifted 1700-acres of the former Fort Benjamin Harrison military base (1903-1995) to the State of Indiana as a part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990.
Fort harrison State park birding trail


As you enter the park, drive slowly and watch the fence line and listen for various sparrows including Henslow’s and Lark Sparrow. For birding, the village trails provide views of Yellow-breasted Chat, Indigo Bunting, Brown Thrasher, Orioles, Henslow's Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats, and many early successional nesters. Keep an eye open throughout the park or listen for the calls of Ring-necked Pheasants if you are there in the morning. Grasshopper Sparrows and Dickcissels are the star birds during the summer months along with American Goldfinches as they pose atop the tall prairie grasses. The Meadow View Trail near the Family Picnic area is a prime location to find Blue Grosbeaks. Sedge Wrens can also be found on the property as you drive along the road through the park.

The fishing pond has been known to have waterfowl and swan species as well as Belted Kingfishers. With the nearby rivers, Bald Eagles soar across prairies quickly. During migration (May and September), warblers, vireos, and Bobolinks can be found on any of the hiking trails that go through wooded areas. Northern Shrikes have been found during the winter as well as various owl species.

The park can be viewed very well in the comfort of your own car during any season as the road travels the length of the park and many of the habitats can be seen easily in this manner. The hiking trails are all easy to moderate and biking trails are also available.

eBird Hotspot Link:

Total Birding Time:
1-2 hours. A visitor can do a quick drive through the park in an hour or less or they can hike the trails and spend the day here.

Best Times to Bird: 


The mapping address for the entrance at Post Rd. and 59th St. is 6000 N. Post Road, Indianapolis, IN 46216.
Hours: Hours vary by season and approximate dawn to dusk.
Ownership: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks
Indiana State Park entrance fees apply. $7 in-state vehicles, $9 out of state vehicles. No gate fees on certain off-season days.
Parking is available at multiple locations. Park only in designated parking areas.
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. A summary of property rules can be found at stateparks.IN.gov/6468.htm.
Nearby Amenities:
ADA compliant bathrooms are available in several locations in the park. A Visitor Center, open year-round, has exhibits on the history of the military base and park. The Museum of 20th Century Warfare is open from March thru November. An 18-hole golf course, redesigned by Pete Dye after the base closure, is open to the public. Lodging is available at the Fort Harrison State Park Inn. Dining and a gift shop are available at The Garrison. There is no camping available at or near the park.
The 3.2-mile ADA accessible Harrison Trace is entirely paved but the eastern section traverses rolling terrain.
Phone Number:
(317) 591-0904

Written by: Don Gorney
Photo by:
Andy Belt