When it comes to states in the U.S. that are woefully underrated, there are a couple that fly under the radar even still, overlooked by secondary (and sometimes tertiary) destinations and places instead. One such state is Indiana. While commonly dismissed as a “flyover” state, it turns out this little slice of paradise is quite amazing – especially for those who love the outdoors. There is a plethora of natural attractions in Indiana worth traveling across the state – maybe even across the country – for. There are so many that it’s kind of tough to know where to start, so we’ve put together a handy-dandy list of all the best natural wonders in Indiana. We promise: the Midwest never looked so beautiful. Behold, the list of the greatest must-see natural wonders in Indiana! Travelers beware: you might just want to move here.
Best Gorges & Canyons In Indiana
Did you know that
Indiana is absolutely NOT totally flat, overrun with corn fields, boring, or anything else a naysayer might mutter? Nope. It’s actually quite amazing, thank you, and although it might not be on, say, Arizona’s level when it comes to canyons and geographic features, it’s still got a few wonders worth ogling at. Check out some of the most amazing – if you’re brave enough! These natural wonders in Indiana are only for the brave few that don’t do that whole “claustrophobia” thing. Besides, there’s enough space… right? canyons and gorges in Indiana 1. Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve
Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve, Cox Ford Rd, Bloomingdale, IN 47832, USA
Location: Turkey Run State Park, Bloomingdale, Indiana Wow Factor: What isn’t there to marvel at? Turkey Run State Park looks like something out of a fantasy novel, and Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon is utterly jaw-dropping year-round. Cost: $7 for Indiana residents, $9 for non-residents Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve
is an amazing tour de force of all things breathtakingly Indiana. The entire park that the preserve is contained within – Turkey Run State Park – is nothing short of absolutely epic. Traversing the canyon is quite the task, so bring plenty of water and wear good shoes. It’s a popular destination for Hoosiers, but if you show up during the week and/or early in the morning, you might get it mostly to yourself! Oh, and this one’s a twofer – check out Rocky Hollow Falls while you’re here, too!
2. Little Hemlock Cliffs Box Canyon
Hemlock Cliffs, National Forest Rd, English, IN 47118, USA
Location: Hoosier National Forest, Indiana Wow Factor: Is this real life? Should you happen to visit this awesome little box canyon – an unusual feature for the Midwest – you might just find yourself wondering the same. Our favorite times to visit are during the warmer months, when it’s lush, green, and otherworldly, but winter hikes in this canyon are also one-of-a-kind. Like with all the wonders on this list, you’ll need to bring the camera for this one. Cost: Free!
The epic sight that is the legendary
Little Hemlock Cliffs Box Canyon
is something to behold indeed. With a 1.2-mile loop trail that’ll lead you to all the must-see spots in, on and around the canyon, you can’t go wrong (unless you wear shoes you don’t want to get wet, anyway). Keep an eye out for seasonal waterfalls that just add to the rainforest-like feel of this splendid natural glory, and in the winter, expect awesome-looking ice sheets in place of cascades.
3. Pine Hills Nature Preserve
Pine Hills Nature Preserve, IN-234, Waveland, IN 47989, USA
Location: Shades State Park, Waveland, Indiana Wow Factor: With the exception of some signs and, of course, the trails, this preserve is relatively untouched. Marvel at the wonders of the ravines, cliffs and sandstone bluffs that surround you on all sides while you explore. Sure, we don’t have anything like Arizona’s Grand Canyon here in Indiana, but our little canyons are still grand! Cost: As with all Indiana state parks, entry fees are $7 for in-state residents and $9 for out-of-state residents.
If you’ve never been to Shades State Park – one of the most underrated state parks in Indiana – then you’ve
never been to the
Pine Hills Nature Preserve
, and that’s too bad. Located just over an hour from Indianapolis, it’s a wondrous place filled with natural awe and wonder that you’re sure to find yourself longing for much later. All the more reason to keep visiting! This 471-acre parcel of land was actually the first dedicated nature preserve in all of Indiana, so it’s especially significant.
Best Caves In Indiana
Did you know there are more than 200 known “wild caves” in the Indiana wilderness? There sure are – and some of them are so spectacular that folks come from all over the country to check them out. Come visit some of the best caves in Indiana and see for yourself why the Hoosier State is so beloved among spelunkers. Please note: Cave exploring – or spelunking – is dangerous. Do not explore caves that are not marked for it, and never enter unknown caves, especially by yourself. That being said, here are a few amazing Indiana caves that offer tours galore. No list of natural wonders in Indiana would ever be complete without ’em! 4. Twin Caves
Twin Caves, 3333 IN-60, Mitchell, IN 47446, USA
Location: Spring Mill State Park, Mitchell, Indiana Wow Factor: Talk about unique! Twin Caves is – you guessed it – a pair of caves located within the boundaries of Spring Mill State Park in Lawrence County. Journey 500 feet into the dark of the Twin Caves system and learn all about it before heading back out into daylight. Try to spot the resident endangered blind cavefish while you’re at it! Cost: $7 for in-state residents, $9 for out-of-state visitors. Boat tours cost $3 per person.
Spring Mill State Park is home to several notable caves, all of which are worthy of a gander. The
are a fan favorite, and we strongly recommend reservations ahead of time for a tour if you’re planning to do one. While you’re here, check out Donaldson Cave and Bronson Cave, where you can go spelunking if you feel so inclined. The boat tours of Twin Caves only last about 20 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time.
5. Marengo Caves
Marengo Cave U.S. National Landmark, 400 East State Rd 64, Marengo, IN 47140, USA
Location: Marengo, Indiana Wow Factor: What *doesn't* make this a natural wonder! Cost: At the time of this writing, tickets for ages 13 and up are $30.95/ Tickets for children ages four to 12 years are $18.95, and kiddos under four are always free. Marengo Caves
are nothing short of a natural wonder nestled comfortably in southern Indiana. When people think about Indiana – even folks who have lived here forever – almost nobody comes up with “caves”, and if they do, it’s usually these ones. This landscape is called
landscape, and it’s common in areas with extensive cave systems – like this one! Discovered in 1955, this incredible wonder is amazing for even folks who aren’t all that interested in geology. It’s a jaw-dropper.
6. Bluespring Caverns
Bluespring Caverns Park, 1459 Blue Springs Cavern Rd, Bedford, IN 47421, USA
Location: Bedford, Indiana Wow Factor: One does not simply mention caves in Indiana without talking about Bluespring. Glimpse elusive, mostly-blind cave critters and learn how they – and the cave itself – came to be. Stalactites and stalagmites dominate the rooms, and an underground river (seriously!) courses through the cave. Boat tours are absolutely AWESOME and we cannot recommend them strongly enough! Cost: Adults are $15, and children 15 years and younger are $12.
What is there to be said about
that hasn’t already been said about the previous two caves? Indiana’s amazing caves are all unique in and of themselves; our karst landscape is absolutely awesome, especially for the Midwest. It all started in the 1940s, when a large sinkhole opened up on private property, exposing the caves for all to see and explore. Nowadays, things are a bit safer... and definitely worth checking out! It’s no wonder why these are all stops on the Indiana cave trail... they’re a caver’s dream! If you find yourself in love with Marengo and Bluespring Caverns, be sure to check out Squire Boone Caverns, which aren’t terribly far from here.
Best Waterfalls In Indiana
Did you know that Indiana is home to not three, not four, not even five waterfalls… but many more? It’s true! In fact, the
waterfalls in Indiana are an amazing testament to the diverse nature of the wonders in this state. The Midwest is full of surprises… and its waterfalls definitely send that point home. Whether you like ‘em tall, short, long, or stringy, you’ll find a fall you love right here in the Hoosier State. Check out some of our favorites, which probably more than qualify for the top spots in any list of the best natural wonders in Indiana. 7. Williamsport Falls
Williamsport Falls, 25 N Monroe St, Williamsport, IN 47993, USA
Location: Williamsport, Indiana Wow Factor: This is literally THE tallest waterfall in Indiana. It’s 90 feet tall! What could be more awesome than that? Come see it during snowmelt or following a good rainstorm for the ultimate experience. Cost: FREE
Like we said, Williamsport Falls has one major claim to fame: it’s got the lovely distinction of being the
tallest waterfall in Indiana
. At 90 feet up-and-down, this cascade is an absolute jaw-dropper. Once upon a time, there was a mill powered by this waterfall, and although it’s no longer there, the falls remain iconic. You won’t believe something so majestic is here in Indiana!
8. Clifty Falls (All of Them)
Clifty Falls State Park, 2221 Clifty Dr, Madison, IN 47250, USA
Location: Clifty Falls State Park, Madison, Indiana Wow Factor: One state park, four different incredible waterfalls! What more could anyone possibly want? Cost: As always, $7 for in-state visitors and $9 for out-of-state visitors. Clifty Falls State Park
is home to FOUR amazing waterfalls. You’ve got Big Clifty Falls, which is 60 feet tall, Little Clifty Falls, which is
60 feet tall, Hoffman Falls, which is 78 feet tall, and finally, Tunnel Falls, which is 83 feet tall. Every single one of them is absolutely worth the trip! With ten different trails varying in difficulty from beginner-friendly to pros-only, you’ll find all kinds of ways to enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls at Clifty Falls State Park.
9. Cataract Falls
Cataract Falls State Recreation Area, 2605 N Cataract Rd, Spencer, IN 47460, USA
Location: Cataract Falls State Recreation Area, Spencer, Indiana Wow Factor: Cataract Falls is Indiana’s largest waterfall by volume, so it’s another must-see on this to-do list. There are two parts to this one: Upper Falls and Lower Falls. You can’t miss either one; both are intensely photogenic and make up the essence of Indiana’s natural wonders. Cost: You know the drill: $7 for in-state residents, $9 for out-of-state visitors Cataract Falls
consists of two technically-separate waterfalls on Mill Creek. They’re about one mile apart, exactly, and were formed a long time ago thanks to two pre-glacial bedrock ridges that got buried beneath ancient lake sediment. Today, they’re an incredible wonder favored by locals and tourists alike, and for great reason: they are absolutely STUNNING. This is one of those “you need to see it to believe it” types of places. Make plans ASAP!
Best Overlooks & Scenic Vistas In Indiana
If you ask anyone what they think Indiana looks like, most of them will probably say something or another about it being flat and/or full of corn. Now, it might be both of those things in SOME places, but in others, it’s quite diverse in terms of landscapes and views. Seeking out some of the best views in Indiana? Look no further than our three favorites, all of which are just as worthy of their spots here on the natural wonders of Indiana list as, say, waterfalls and caves. 10. Hickory Ridge Lookout Tower
Hickory Ridge Lookout Tower, Tower Ridge Rd, Norman, IN 47264, USA
Location: Norman, Indiana Wow Factor: This 110-foot-tall fire tower is the epitome of EPIC. It feels like you can see forever up here, which is wild for somewhere like Indiana. Cost: Free – you just need to be willing to CLIMB
Standing stoic guard over the beautiful Charles C. Deam Wilderness as a relic from a long-gone time, the awe-inspiring views from the
Hickory Ridge Lookout Tower
are something else... in the best of ways, of course. Built in 1936, this tower once had a very important role to play: it was from up here that forest service officials would watch for tell-tale smoke to send the fire brigade BEFORE things got out of hand. Since this service is no longer needed and the tower still stands firm, it’s now the perfect place to get a little exercise in... with a view.
11. Hesitation Point
Hesitation Point, Washington Township, IN 47448, USA
Location: Brown County, Indiana Wow Factor: This awe-inspiring vista is located within Brown County State Park, and you know what that means: it’s going to be incredibly awesome. And boy, is it ever. You can see for miles up here, and should you come in the fall, the colors are unreal. It’s not every day you get to have a vantage point like THIS one. Cost: $7 for in-state residents, $9 for out-of-state visitors
One does not simply visit Indiana without visiting Brown County.
Hesitation Point to Aynes Vista
is a 7.7-mile trail that’s rated as moderately challenging and is the best way to access this popular spot. Trust us: the effort is WORTH it. It’s popular, so you’ll likely encounter others along the way... but at least you know you all have a love of the great outdoors in common! Of course, this is one of 12 awesome hiking trails at Brown County State Park, and all of them are breathtaking – they just don’t all have views like this one.
12. The Ohio River
Ohio River, United States
Location: Literally... the Ohio River. Of its 967 miles, one-third of them are in Indiana. Wow Factor: There are numerous stops and spots along the Ohio River Scenic Byway that will blow your mind. Some feature amazing forest views similar to the vista at Hesitation Point, and others are gateways to the beautiful marriage of suburban structures with natural wonders. Every single mile is worth it. Cost: Free
is a river that runs right through Indiana, and the Ohio River Scenic Byway is an absolutely amazing way to explore it all. Along the way, you’ll notice that there are several vistas, lookouts, and other points of interest where you get a birds-eye view of the jaw-dropping landscape. Indiana and its rivers never looked so outrageously postcard-worthy! Should you make a trip out of (at least) the Indiana segment of the highway, you’ll meander through biomes such as many a state forest, gorgeous wetlands, lakes, towns, and so much more. Make a whole thing out of it - it’s worth it!
Best Rock Formations in Indiana
Who says there’s no such thing as interesting
geology in Indiana? If anyone ever says that to you, stop talking to them; you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. It just so happens that there are LOTS of awesome geological wonders in Indiana, and many of them are totally worth a day trip (or more). Come explore some of the downright coolest rock formations in Indiana that’ll make you feel like you’re on another planet! 13. Jug Rock
Jug Rock Nature Preserve, 722 Albright Ln, Shoals, IN 47581, USA
Location: Jug Rock Nature Preserve, Shoals, Indiana Wow Factor: Look at that weird thing. Just look at it. Have you ever seen anything like it? Probably not, because it’s the only one of its kind in Indiana; it’s also the largest rock formation of its kind east of the Mississippi. Cost: Like all the best things in life, free
Standing an impressive 60 feet high and coming in at a diameter of about 20 feet, Jug Rock is a strange
rock formation in Indiana
that is LITERALLY unlike any others. You can’t miss it; it’s located in the small town of Shoals, where the residents have made it into a mascot of sorts. Seriously, the high school’s mascot is Jug Rock, and honestly, we think that’s kind of awesome. You’ll want to name something after it too once you’ve seen it in person in all its bizarre, unique glory.
14. The Seven Pillars of Peru
Seven Pillars Nature Preserve - ACRES Land Trust, 3985 Mississinewa Rd, Peru, IN 46970, USA
Location: Seven Pillars Nature Preserve, Peru, Indiana Wow Factor: It's an incredible opportunity to view 25-foot limestone pillars! Cost: Free
Seven Pillars of Peru
is an unusual geological formation located within the Seven Pillars Nature Preserve, which is named after the formation it houses. The 25-foot limestone pillars definitely steal the show, and anyone wanting a closer look can wade across the Mississinewa River to see if they’d like. These interesting-looking “pillars” were etched out of the limestone over millions of years, and it’s crazy to think that one day, many many centuries from now, they won’t look like this anymore. Life and its phases are fleeting... even for rocks.
15. Portland Arch
Portland Arch Nature Preserve (North Trail), 1599 W Scout Camp Rd, Covington, IN 47932, USA
Portland Arch Nature Preserve (South Trail), 1480 W Scout Camp Rd, Covington, IN 47932, USA
Location: Portland Arch Nature Preserve, Covington, Indiana Wow Factor: This gigantic sandstone arch was crafted by Mother Nature herself and given to us as a gift to explore. It looks surreal, almost too strange and beautiful to be true, but it is – it's one of Indiana’s coolest geological formations. It’s thought to be around 230 million years old. Cost: Free
Isn’t it awesome that many of these epic
natural wonders in Indiana
are free to experience? We sure think so, and Portland Arch Nature Preserve is no different. Just add it to the “free fun” bucket list! Bear Creek flows right through the area, which encompasses about 435 acres, and has carved some truly intriguing shapes, forms and, yes, even the famed Arch out of sandstone and time. The nearby town of Fountain used to be named Portland, which is where the preserve and formation get their names from. The whole place is a Natural National Landmark. Joy!
Unique Natural Wonders in Indiana
Who knew Indiana was so much more than corn fields and boring, flat “flyover” country? Well, now you do – and you can spread the word! That being said, there are a few miscellaneous
natural wonders in Indiana that you’ll probably love checking out, too, so we’ve collected a few more here to send you off with. How many of these wonders have you already experienced? Which ones are still on the ol’ bucket list? Let us know! 16. The Singing Sand Dunes
Indiana Dunes National Park, Porter, IN 46304, USA
Location: Mt. Baldy, Miller, and Kemil Beaches, Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana Wow Factor: It’s incredible enough that we have genuine sand dunes in Indiana, but these ones are EXTRA special for one incredibly noticeable reason: they can sing. You have never experienced the spellbinding dunes of Indiana without listening to their song, and this bizarre but beautiful phenomenon is well worth the journey to hear it. Cost: Standard entrance passes to Indiana Dunes NP range from $15 to $25, depending on your needs. It’s one of the only parks in Indiana to deviate from the $7/$9 formula.
Indiana Dunes National Park is honestly like getting three natural wonders all in one trip. Number one, there’s the absolutely amazing dunes surrounding portions of number two, Lake Michigan. Finally, number three, these dunes are known to make a strange noise sometimes known as “singing” when conditions are juuuuust right. The
singing sand dunes in Indiana
are equal parts magic, natural wonder, and sources of fascination. You’ll seriously just have to come listen to the song of the dunes for yourself. Even the videos do it no justice. Like many of the best nature spots in Indiana, this one needs to be seen (and heard) to be believed.
17. Pinhook Bog
Pinhook Bog, 945 N Wozniak Rd, La Porte, IN 46350, USA
Location: Indiana Dunes National Park, Michigan City, Indiana Wow Factor: Four words: Carnivorous plants. In. Indiana. Cost: Standard entrance passes to Indiana Dunes NP range from $15 to $25, depending on your needs.
While you’re exploring the absolutely bonkers singing sand dunes at Indiana Dunes National Park (once upon a time called Indiana Dunes State Park, and sometimes called the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore), be sure to leave time to check out
, which might just be the single most bizarre and unique wonder on this entire list. Why is that? Well, did you know that there’s a population of carnivorous plants that call Indiana home? Yep – and it’s at Pinhook Bog that they thrive. Thanks to many different factors, the bog just so happens to have the perfect chemistry for “meat”-eating plants like several species of sundew, pitcher plant, and bladderwort, and you can come check these weird little guys out in the same day you try to hear the song of the dunes. Score!
18. The Meltzer Woods
Meltzer Woods, 1522 S 600 E, Shelbyville, IN 46176, USA
Location: Shelbyville, Indiana Wow Factor: Some of the trees in this patch of old-growth forest likely sprouted sometime in the 1600s, making them more than 400 years old now. It that’s not enough to wow you, nothing will be. Cost: Free
The Meltzer Woods is one of the last remaining mostly-untouched
old-growth forests in Indiana
, with many trees within its boundaries being well over one or two (or more) centuries old. This preserve is especially intriguing because this is what MOST of Indiana actually looked like BEFORE European settlers began arriving and changing the landscape to suit their farming needs. Though primarily dominated by the likes of Beech, Shumard Oak, and Maple trees, there are others present, too. This land was originally designated for Indiana’s Classified Forest Program in 1928 and added to the list of National Natural Landmarks in 1973. We’ll be forever grateful for this, as this might just be the closest we get to traveling back in time.
So, there you have it – solid proof in 18 ways illustrating the jaw-dropping nature of the Hoosier State in all its wonderful glory. Of course, even this list isn’t exhaustive; there are dozens – if not hundreds – more awesome nature spots and natural wonders in Indiana. This article just provides a few good places to start your adventures! How many of these natural wonders in Indiana have you already visited? Which natural wonders in Indiana would you add to this list? Let us know. Not feeling up to leaving the house this time? No worries – our
ultimate staycation checklist is waiting for you all warm and cozy.
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