One of Brown County’s Prettiest Fall Drives to Get Less Bumpy

Improvements to Yellowwood Lake Road mean you can get lost in the wilderness without the headache.
This article is part of the Rediscover Brown County package in the October 2016 Indianapolis Monthly issue. For more on our favorite fall destination, click here.

Off State Road 46 west of Nashville, 4 miles of Yellowwood Lake Road are unpaved, all the way to Lanam Ridge Road in Yellowwood State Forest. Years of sightseeing and adventuring have cut deep tire grooves in the dirt and gravel, a narrow lane that sloshes through puddles and shallow fords as pebbles ping against the undercarriage, until calendar-worthy Yellowwood Lake bursts into view around the next bend.

Next to the scenery, the ruts, bumps, and potholes are what a lot of folks like about the drive—it feels like quintessential Brown County. By this time next year, though, the ride should be smoother. After construction on a 6.5-mile stretch of the road, asphalt will cover the mile-and-a-half of gravel that runs between the campground and boat ramp.

Not everyone was happy about the $8 million plan. Opponents argued that the road’s primitive state discouraged noisy motorcycles and heavy traffic. Officials countered that the road was sometimes impassable for emergency vehicles. They reached a compromise: Gravel will remain on over 2.5 miles, a kind of tribute to the rough, ragged route outdoor types (and their auto mechanics) have come to love.