East to Brown County Tour
This 5-hour tour explores the art and nature of world-famous Brown County. Destinations include:
- T.C. Steele State Historic Site
- Lake Monroe: Crooked Creek State Recreation Area
- Brown County State Park
- Story, Ind.
- Hoosier National Forest: Nebo Ridge
- Yellowwood State Forest
The picturesque T.C. Steel State Historic Site was home to noted Hoosier impressionist painter Theodore Clement Steele and his wife Selma. When they moved to their House of the Singing Winds in 1907, Steele became the first major artist to make a home in Brown County. The area’s natural beauty and the scenic landscape attracted other artists, who established the world-famous Brown County Art Colony.
The rugged Brown County ridge top was nearly barren of trees when the Steeles arrived. Inspired by the possibilities, they allowed nature to reclaim the 211-acre property, which today claims a place among some of Southern Indiana’s most scenic.
Owned by the State of Indiana, the Steele site includes their home and Large Studio, with more than 50 paintings on display, as well as Selma’s historic gardens and five hiking trails.
Crooked Creek State Recreation Area is located on T.C. Steele Road in the remote, eastern reaches of Lake Monroe, on the Middle Fork of the Salt Creek in Brown County, just upstream from the Middle Fork Waterfowl Resting Area. It offers a boat ramp, hiking, fishing and hunting.
Monroe is Indiana’s largest lake, with 10,750 acres of water and a watershed of 23,952 acres. The lake is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Reservoirs. The lake spans portions of Brown and Monroe counties, with its watershed extending into Bartholomew, Jackson and Lawrence.
Crooked Creek is east of the State Road 446 causeway, where all acreage is preserved for wildlife and nonmotorized human activity. Motor boats are allowed, but they are limited to idle speed only. The shallow waters just east of the Middle Fork Wildlife Resting Area are popular with waterfowl, such as Great Blue Herons. Bald Eagles nest nearby.
Brown County State Park, encompassing nearly 16,000 acres, is Indiana’s oldest and largest state park. It has been called the Little Smokies, due to its resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains.
The park's rugged hills, narrow ridges, steep slopes and deep gullies attracts more than a million visitors each year. It is a traditional fall color hot spot, with nearly 20 miles of tree-lined roads and many scenic vistas overlooking miles of uninterrupted forestland.
In addition to camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, a nature center, fire tower, and interpretive services, Brown County features numerous scenic vistas. The rustic Abe Martin Lodge offers accommodations that include motel rooms, cabins, dining and conference facilities and an indoor water park.
The historic town of Story, founded in 1851, is a remote bed and breakfast that offers lodging and fine dining on the edge of the Hoosier National Forest.
The Hoosier's 17.2-mile Nebo Ridge Trail trailhead is located three miles up the road from Story. At 920 feet above sea level, Nebo is one of highest and most rugged landscapes in the region. The trail, designated for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking, offers scenic views from the ridge-top trail.
The 23,200-acre Yellowwood State Forest adjoins Morgan-Monroe State Forest and shares its history and natural characteristics. Together, the two form one of the largest blocks of forest in the state.