The Falls of the Ohio State Park is a one-of-a-kind attraction. It is home to the largest exposed Devonian (before dinosaurs) fossil beds in the world. These fossilized sea creatures lived millions of years ago when this area was actually the floor of a shallow tropical sea.
Located along the Ohio River in Clarksville, Indiana, the fossil bed is part of a 1,404-acre National Wildlife Conservation Area. Sitting on a small bluff, the park also includes a state-of-the-art interpretive center that overlooks the fossil beds and the river. Its panoramic view helps bring the 390-million-year-old story to life!
In addition to enjoying its sheer natural wonder, you can find a number of outdoor recreational activities, events, and educational programs all year long! Every year in October, the Falls of the Ohio participates in National Fossil Day.
Top 3 features:
- Interpretive Center
- The views
Ideal for: Families and Couples. This park is pet-friendly; just keep your furry friends on a leash!
National Fossil Day
Paleontologists, educators, and students celebrate with fossil-related events and activities in parks, classrooms, and online. This annual celebration showcases the scientific and educational value of paleontology and highlights the importance of preserving fossils for future generations.
In 2020, the Falls of the Ohio will celebrate on Oct. 17 with a series of special fossil bed hikes, reduced adult admission for the Interpretive Center, guides on the collecting piles, and more. They will feature talks and displays about fossils along with special hikes throughout the afternoon. Learn more about the National Fossil Day at the Falls event.
- A Really Big Fossil Hike – Join the park naturalist to seek out the biggest fossils on the fossil beds, including a 50-foot long branching coral, a 15-foot honeycomb coral, a four-foot horn coral, and more.
- Fishing for Fossils at Fisherman’s Point – Explore the fossil beds at Fisherman’s Point and look for snails, crinoids, and look at some of the biggest corals on the fossil beds. Bring a deck broom and a bucket to help expose some cool fossils.
- Wandering through History: The Falls and Early Paleontologists – This one-hour hike will help you learn about the important paleontologists in the last 200 years and look for examples of the fossils they named.
You can hike on the actual fossil beds when the river levels are low or on the Woodland Loop Trail. This half-mile trail passes through two diverse habitats, the upper and lower woodlands. It is a relatively level path with a few minor inclines, so it’s an easy hike. Pets are allowed but must remain on a 6-foot leash at all times.
Fishing & Boat Access
Fishing is allowed at the Falls of the Ohio on the shoreline or from small boats in the river. An Indiana or Kentucky license is required. If fishing by boat, it can be put in the water at the George Rogers Clark’s Boat Ramp. Boat access is not available right at the Falls of the Ohio. See the Falls of the Ohio website for fishing tips including the species of fish and when the best time is to catch them at the Falls.
With a commanding view of the fossil beds and the Ohio River, the Center features 3,000 square feet of immersive exhibits, an auditorium, rotunda, classrooms, wildlife and river viewing rooms, and a gift shop.
The Center has four permanent interactive and immersive exhibits: Ancient Sea, A Changing Land, Converging Cultures, The Falls Today; each one telling a different part of the narrative of what makes this area unique.
The Falls of the Ohio has been a popular bird-watching destination since the 1800s! Anything from bald eagles to peregrine falcons can be seen on any given day. For a more discerning eye, scoters, rare gulls, and terns can be spotted, along with a vast flock of various shorebirds. The members of the Beckham Bird Club have assisted in compiling the Bird Checklist for the Falls of the Ohio. How many can you see?
Picnic tables and grills are scattered throughout the park. Pack a picnic and plan to spend the day by the water.
Ohio River Greenway
The Greenway is a paved 7.5-mile-long trail for walking or biking that runs along the banks of the Ohio River connecting Clarksville, Jeffersonville, and New Albany. This trail runs right by the Falls of the Ohio.
201 W. Riverside Dr.
Clarksville, IN 47129
$2 parking. Interpretive Center: $9 – 12 years and older, $7 – 5 to 11 years, under 5 – no cost. Indiana State Park pass waives the parking fee, not the Interpretive Center admission fee.
The Interpretive Center is ADA accessible. Audio descriptive iPods are available for visitors with visual and hearing impairments. A wheelchair is available for visitors with limited mobility. Marked service animals are permitted.