Don't want to fight the shopping crowds? State parks offering free admission Black Friday

Hoosiers have an option this year to avoid the maddening rush of consumers on Black Friday and it's completely free.

It's called getting back to nature.

All Indiana DNR properties are free to visit Friday. That includes state parks, state forests, state-managed reservoirs, fish and wildlife areas, nature preserves and off-road state recreation areas.

“Being able to spend time outdoors at one of your DNR properties any time of the year helps make you a winner, but we are glad to waive the admission fee and offer these great prizes, which will add to your outdoor experience as you #optoutside on Black Friday,” DNR Director Dan Bortner said in a statement.

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The department is also sweetening the deal with opportunities to win annual DNR passes, lake permits, Outdoor Indiana magazine subscriptions, Smokey Bear materials, gift cards and staff-led experiences.

There are three ways to enter these drawings, and any individual can use all of them do all three for better chances of winning. For more information, check out IN.gov/optoutside.

Visitors are encouraged to take photos of their visit to the DNR properties and post them on the department's social media using the hashtag: #OptOutsideIN2022. The sites to post on include:

  • Indiana State Parks Facebook: facebook.com/INdnrstateparksandreservoirs

  • Indiana State Parks Twitter: https://twitter.com/INDNRstateparks

  • Indiana Fish & Wildlife Facebook: facebook.com/INfishandwildlife

  • Indiana Fish & Wildlife Twitter: https://twitter.com/INFishWildlife

  • Indiana DNR Facebook: facebook.com/INdnr

  • Indiana DNR Instagram: instagram.com/indianadnr

  • Indiana DNR Twitter: https://twitter.com/INdnrnews

Participants can also compete in the Opt Outside Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win an annual parks pass and other prizes. Head to on.IN.gov/optoutside and click on the link to find the scavenger hunt list. Once 10 items on the list are completed, email the form back to SPContests@dnr.IN.gov or submit it by mail via State Park Contests, Indiana State Parks, 402 W. Washington Room W298, Indianapolis, IN 46204. The deadline is Dec. 9.

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Also new this year is a chance to win a picnic prize package valued at almost $360. To enter, sign up at on.IN.gov/optoutside by Saturday and receive the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation e-newsletter.

Contest winners will be notified via social media and names posted online at on.IN.gov/optoutside by Dec. 16.

Karl Schneider is an IndyStar environment reporter. You can reach him at karl.schneider@indystar.com. Follow him on Twitter @karlstartswithk

IndyStar's environmental reporting project is made possible through the generous support of the nonprofit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Avoid Black Friday crowds with a free visit to any state park property