The fire tower at McCormick’s Creek State Park is back in business. Even though the original purpose is gone, the newly renovated structure offers an easy climb and beautiful views.

Joanna Beasley Suitors gets a look around the treetops in the newly opened fire tower at McCormick’s Creek State Park.


The fire tower fell into disrepair, closing in the early 1980s. The Friends of McCormick’s Creek raised over $100,000 to restore the 86-foot tower. “They started small and then shot for the stars,” says Naturalist Wyatt Williams. The 105 steps to the top are easy to navigate. The plaza underneath the tower is entirely new. Even if you decide not to climb the tower, the view from underneath is impressive.

Naturalist Wyatt Williams shares some of the historical documents related to the park’s fire tower.

The CCC built the original fire tower in 1935.

The tower was manned, and the Fire Action Plan book for the park and town has been preserved.

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1935, the fire tower arrived as a kit. It was put together over a couple of winter months. The CCC also built bridges, roads, and shelter houses in the park.

The manned fire tower was initially built on a bare dirt hill. The entire park and the nearby town of Spencer were visible from the perch. The idea for fire towers at the time was to have “total visual coverage of the state,” Williams recounts. That plan was never realized.

The CCC made pine tree reforestation efforts in 1935 around the fire tower. From the top of the tower, you are level with the tops of these giants.

Current Programs

Naturalists Jessica Filer and Andrew Naugle lead tours to the tower. They also conduct scheduled programs each month. Information can be found here. In Winter, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Owen County Courthouse.

Lindsay Meyer and Keshav Ram drove from Bloomington to catch the sunset from the fire tower on opening day.

Indiana’s First State Park

McCormick’s Creek, Indiana’s first state park, is 104 years old. Stop by the waterfall soon after entering the park. Take a hike to Wolf Cave. Cross the road from Wolf Cave parking lot to Trail 7 for a unique view along the ridgeline. Stop by Canyon Inn for lunch or dinner. From the top of the fire tower to the bottoms of the canyons, Indiana’s first state park always delivers beauty.

Trail 7


You know it’s Fall in Indiana when fried biscuits and apple butter are on the menu!

Catch the sunset on the White River on your way out of Spencer.

Indiana State Nature Passport

Indiana State Nature Passport

McCormick's Creek State Park is part of the Indiana State Nature Passport! Check-in and explore participating locations throughout the state to earn great prizes! The more you visit, the more you win. This program is 100% free, but property entrance fees apply when you visit. Learn More.