Limestone preserves countless fossils at this southern Indiana attraction. Falls of Ohio State Park is a great place to spend a quiet outdoor afternoon, or find some challenging nature adventure on a day trip from Indianapolis. This Indiana park is located just across the river from Louisville, Kentucky, so it attracts visitors from all over the Hoosier State and beyond. The largest known exposed fossil beds in the world from the Devonian Period can be found in Clarksville, Indiana. An educational interpretive center was built in the Falls of Ohio State Park in the early 1990s. This unique Indiana museum teaches visitors about the natural history and human history in the area.
Educational youth science day camps are offered in the summer months, and several Indiana schools visit on field trips regularly. Park visitors are warned not to remove fossils from the park, in order to preserve the area’s natural beauty and habitat for future generations. However, Indianapolis kids can get a hands-on experience with some of the 386-million-year-old bones and other artifacts.
Beautiful seasonal gardens flourish near the interpretive center, featuring countless perennials, small trees and shrubs. One of the most unique parts of the interpretive center’s collection is the prehistoric choral reef display. A small admission fee is charged to explore the interpretive center. The cost is $5 for adults 19 and up, and only $2 for those 18 and under.
Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area is made up of 1404 federally protected acres, including much of the area’s Jeffersonville Limestone. The area is operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and was designated back in 1981. The flora and fauna within the park is federally protected, although some fishing is allowed. The waters of the nearby falls are known best for catfish, bass, bluegill, walleye and crappie. Fishermen beware, the paddlefish is a protected species, and must be released immediately upon capture. These waters have been known to house several unusual species. There have been alligator, crocodile and pirahana sightings, and one time a fisherman reeled in an octopus. It was later discovered that a local Indiana college student purchased the sea creature from a seafood store and dumped it in the Ohio River while doing a film project.
Bird watching is another one of the popular *things to do in Indiana, and the Falls of Ohio State Park is no exception. This day trip destination attracts bird watchers, fishermen and hikers. The Eagle Scouts recently upgraded the Woodland Loop Trail by placing markers identifying plants along the way. The Levee Trail takes visitors on a 1.5 mile hike from the interpretive center to the George Rogers Clark Homesite. This 200 year old home is known as Clark’s Point, and the area offers some of the most breathtaking views along the Ohio River. The falls can be viewed along with miles of the expansive river from nearby this house on a hill.
A statue of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark stands in tribute at Falls of the Ohio State Park. The two historic figures played a key role in Indiana history, and the site overlooking the Ohio River is believed to be the official beginnings of their famous expedition.
The park is located in Clarksville, Indiana, near several other Indiana attractions. New Albany is only a few miles from Falls of Ohio State Park, and it’s home to the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site. The O’Bannon Woods State Park, Squire Boone Caverns, Howard Steamboat Museum and Charlestown State Park are must-see day trip destinations in the surrounding area. Other exciting things to do can be found along the route from Indianapolis. The Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest in Paoli, the Lost River in Orangeville and the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour are all in the south central Crossroads of America.
Falls of the Ohio State Park is open year round from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and only closes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Interpretive center hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. If you’re making your day trip from Indy by car, be sure to budget a few extra bucks for parking.
Falls of the Ohio State Park
Clarksville, Indiana 47129