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About Us

eXplore Brown County at Valley Branch Retreat is located in historic, scenic southern Brown County, Indiana. Under new management since March 2011, we offer over 500 acres of year-round adventure featuring:

Extend your adventure, stay in one of our rustic camping cabins, all with heat and AC. Our campground features primitive and full-hook up sites. Rowboats and canoes are available to rent on our 4 acre fishing lake.

Our Harvest Hall is available to celebrate your wedding, special occasion, corporate retreat, reunion or social function. We host many events here at eXplore Brown County, large groups are always welcome. Plan your next adventure with us today.

Free Wi-Fi is available at Harvest Hall on the porch.



His dream has come to fruition …


 While working a full time job as an engineer, Gary Bartels and his two sons, Lance and Christopher, began clearing an area for the lake in 1994. They took the timber from the clearing and used it and a WoodMizer portable saw mill to create Harvest Hall. With little outside help, the guys built the hall and restroom facility, opening for its first wedding in 1998. Gary, his bulldozer, backhoe and trencher with a minimal crew built the campgrounds and the paintball field opening to the public 12 years ago. Slowly one by one Gary built the camping cabins which now sleep about 80 people and accommodate large group events.

Gary had been dreaming and planning a “world class” zip line canopy adventure since 2004. Gary has zipped every zip line he could find from Costa Rica to Hawaii. Taking the opportunity to have a firsthand experience on a zip line build, he went to Hawaii in 2007 to work on a line that has served as his inspiration for eXplore Brown County…..the fastest, longest and highest zip line in Indiana….a scenic and physical rush, opened in September 2011.

eXperience His Dream!



Charitable Giving Policy - eXplore Brown County at Valley Branch Retreat Inc. supports many charitable and philanthropic organizations with in-kind contributions. We frequently receive requests for gift certificates, which not-for-profit organizations then sell or auction to raise cash. We remain committed to building ties with our community family. However, we cannot honor every request for assistance. If you are a philanthropic organization and desire a contribution from us we would like you to first review our Charitable Giving Policy, only mailed requests will be reviewed.