Charlestown State Park is a beautiful gem tucked along the Ohio River in Borden, Indiana about 30 minutes north of Louisville, Kentucky. On more than 15,000 acres, this park offers a unique blend of activities for a fun family weekend. Its rich natural history houses the remains of Rose Island, a 1920s amusement park.

The park is on land that was the former Indiana Army Ammunitions Plant, dating back to WWII. Its history, though, goes further back into the Ice Age, when glaciers over time created the river and the local landmark, Fourteenmile Creek. 

A small bridge crosses over a waterfall at Charlestown State Park.

Top 3 features:

  • Rose Island
  • Hiking
  • Camping

Ideal for: Families and couples. This park is pet friendly; just keep your furry friends on a leash!

A photograph from the 1920s of a Rose Island walkway.  The Rose Island walkway in present day leads visitors down a tree-lined path.

Rose Island

Rose Island was a thriving amusement park in the 1920s. Its extensive amenities included a swimming pool, small zoo, Ferris wheel, shooting gallery, cafeteria, and more. Unfortunately, the 1937 Flood destroyed the park beyond repair, but some of the park’s remains can still be seen through its mile-long loop. The landmarks give you a nostalgic history of the park, and much of the path parallels The Ohio River. When you cross the Portersville Bridge to access the island, make sure you pause to take in the scenery and grab a photo op with your crew!

A vintage photo of people enjoying the swimming pool at the Rose Island Amusement Park.  A girl plays in the filled-in remains of the Rose Island swimming pool.

Due to the park featuring skeletal remains of the structures, this site is perfect for Halloween lovers who appreciate the eeriness that accompanies Rose Island’s nostalgia.

Rose Island is a fun time for all, but be prepared – the paved path downhill and the intense climb back up is not for the faint of heart! Bring some water and bring a buddy if you are pushing a stroller. On occasion, the park offers guided tours of Rose Island. Check with the park rangers to see when tours will be offered next. 

A trail at Charlestown State Park winds past mile-marker six.  Autumn leaves line the trail and a cairn at Charlestown State Park Trail.

Take a Hike!

With more than 13 miles of marked hiking trails, Charlestown State Park has some gorgeous scenic trails ranging from easy to rugged, the longest trail at 2.9 miles. If you want a longer trek, you can easily combine Trails 3, 4, and the Rose Island Loop, with other trails nearby to extend your adventure! 

Yellow wildflowers line sections of trail at Charlestown State Park in Indiana. Purple flowers dot the hillside along a section of trail at Charlestown State Park.  

The trails are excellent for wildlife (especially the 72 species of birds you can find in the park), offer shaded trails in the forest, and include gorgeous scenery to view wildflowers. 

A lone visitor enjoys a boat ride at Charlestown State Park's Charlestown Landing.

Fishing Too!

If you don’t mind carting your fishing pole and tackle for a short walk, you can also access stream-bank fishing off of Trail 3! Or if you’d like to spend the day boating, you can drive to Charlestown Landing, located at the Southern tip of the park, and take one of the most scenic hikes on Trail 6 to kick off your morning before spending the day on the water.

You can also take guided tours along trails such as the Once in a Blue Moon Hike, or the Full Moon Hike. See the park’s event page for more details!

Campers relax under the canopy of trees at Charlestown State Park.

Dust Off the ol’ Tent!

Charlestown State Park offers an incredible camping space conveniently located near the majority of the trails. Located near the Park Office and picnic shelters, the campground is accessible for 60 full hook-up sites, 132 electric sites, and offers campground reservations. Whether you’re camping old-school or bringing the family camper, this area is a gorgeous way to spend the weekend surrounded by lush forests and wildlife. The campground parking lot also leads to Trail #5, which leads to a beautiful overlook of Fourteenmile Creek. 

You can call 1-866-622-6746 or reserve online at Camp.IN.gov. 

Maps

Parking Map 

Camping Map 

Contact Information:
Getting There: Driving instructions, gate entrances 
  • Cost: $7 a car for Indiana tags, $9 for out of state tags. 
Parking
  • There are 7 sizable parking lots in the park – click here to view the park map, which labels each parking area.

For more information on Charlestown State Park and for up-to-date safety regulation check out the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website