If you think you might need a break from the chaos and credit card pain of Black Friday shopping, you can find some peace and quiet — for free — at any of Indiana's state parks, reservoirs or state forest recreation areas.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is waiving gate admission fees Friday as part of an effort to remind Hoosiers there's more to life than fighting for a parking space at a crowded shopping mall.
The closest state park for most Northwest Indiana residents is Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton.
At 10 a.m. Friday, a naturalist will guide visitors on a two-hour hike from the park's nature center to the Beach House Blowout sand ridge, which features spectacular views of Lake Michigan.
Alternatively, visitors to Potato Creek State Park near South Bend can go on an "animal safari" though the park's woodlands starting at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time Friday, or get to know the wildlife living in the nature center between 1 and 5 p.m.
The DNR also is rewarding state park visitors who share their outdoor experiences on its Facebook or Instagram pages using the term "#optoutsideIN2019."
Social media posters will be entered in a drawing to possibly win state park annual passes, lake permits, gift cards, free camping, guided tours, or a grand prize gift pack from outdoor gear retailer REI.
More details about Indiana state parks are available online at: in.gov/dnr/parklake/.