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Ohio River Scenic Byway - Indiana Section

Discover a historic pathway

Mileage269 miles (434 km)
DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.5 hours, 55 minutes
SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.All Seasons
RoadwaysIndiana Highways 237, 265, 56W, 62, 62, 64, and 66, Kentucky Highway 69, US Highways 231, 50, and 60, Cole Lane, Importing Street, Madison Street, Nelson Road, Salem Ridge Road, West Main Street, and West Street
Forest PassesSome of the adventures on this scenic drive require an admission fee that these passes cover. Please read the drive description for more information.America the Beautiful Annual Pass
ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, hotels, pharmacies, etc.Mount Vernon, IN, Evansville, IN, Rockport, IN, Owensboro, KY, Lewisport, KY, Tell City, IN, Leavenworth, IN, Corydon, IN, more...Georgetown, IN, Elizabeth, IN, Greenville, IN, New Albany, IN, Louisville, KY, Clarksville, IN, Jeffersonville, IN, Sellersburg, IN, Charlestown, IN, Prospect, KY, Hanover, IN, Madison, IN, Carrollton, KY, Vevay, IN, Ghent, KY, Florence, IN, Sparta, KY, Rising Sun, IN, Lawrenceburg, IN, Hebron, KY, Harrison, OH, Spencer County Farm, IN, Cloverport, KY, Fredonia, IN, Carefree, IN, Frenchtown, IN, Harrison Grange, IN, Harrison, IN, Central Barren, IN, Hunters Trace, KY, Wilder Park, KY, Scottsville, IN, Sylvan Grove, IN, Broad Fields, KY, Lyndon, KY, Parkside, KY, Springlee, KY, Bellemeade, KY, Lawrenceburg Junction, IN, Guilford, IN, Addyston, OH, Taylorsport, KY, and Taylors Creek, OH
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Natural areas along this route require an entrance fee used to protect and maintain our most scenic treasures. Save time by purchasing your forest passes before you go.

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The Ohio River Scenic Byway spans Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. This scenic drive describes the section in Indiana, beginning in Mount Vernon near the border of Illinois to Lawrenceburg, near to the border of Ohio. This historic pathway encompasses unusual rock formations left unglaciated during the ice age, Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home, Civil War and underground railway sites, well-preserved historic buildings, and a myriad of state parks and National Forests chock full of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Exposed fossil beds in Falls of the Ohio State Park
Exposed fossil beds in Falls of the Ohio State Park

Before heading out, visit the Shawnee National Forest in neighboring Illinois. Nestled within is the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area (H9). Formed about 320-million years ago, observe toadstool-shaped rocks, spires, a sandstone staircase, caves, streams and delicate waterfalls. Take the short 1/4-mile Observation Trail and learn about the geological history through interpretive signage, or delve deeper along 17-miles of trails that reveal extraordinary views of massive cliffs, forested valleys, and fields of giant boulders call to be scrambled over. Take caution near high cliffs.

Harmonie State Park (H1) offers hiking, bridle and mountain biking trails, and fishing. Stay overnight tent and RV camping, or in one of 11 cabins for rent. An Olympic-sized swimming pool is open Memorial Day to Labor Day for a small day use fee. There is no swimming in Wabash River. There is a fee to enter all Indiana State Parks.

The Evansville African American Museum (M1) highlights the contributions of African Americans in Evansville and the Tri-State area through a rich array of permanent and rotating exhibits, as well as lectures, workshops, and activities. There is a small entrance fee. Operating hours vary so please check website ahead of time.

Birders and nature lovers should consider a detour just across the Ohio River to Kentucky to visit the John James Audubon State Park (H2) and Museum. Literally walk in the footsteps of Audubon, exploring where he lived, studied, and painted between 1810-1819. The museum features artifacts, original furnishings, and a complete set of The Birds of America, 435 life-sized wondrously-detailed watercolors that he is renowned for. At the park, enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, golfing. Stay overnight camping or in a cottage rental.

Visit Indiana’s first National Park, The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial (A19). Learn about Lincoln’s life from 1816 to 1830 when he lived here with his family through exhibits, artifacts, and film presentation at the Memorial Visitor Center. Then, walk around the homestead visiting the Lincoln Living Historical Farm replete with livestock and gardens, the Cabin Site Memorial, Lincoln Spring, and Pioneer Cemetery, where Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Lincoln’s mother is buried. The half-mile Twelve Stones Trail offers a chronological look at significant events in Lincoln’s life. Living history interpreters dressed in period clothing demonstrate activities typical of daily life in the 1820’s such as cooking, quilt-making, farming, and more. There is an entrance fee or use your America the Beautiful Pass.

Love Christmas year-round? Visit the town of Santa Clause, Indiana. Stop for photos of the giant Welcome to Santa Clause Indiana sign, and enjoy all things Santa including the Santa Claus Museum and Village, Santa’s Candy Castle, and the Santa Claus Christmas Store. During the Christmas season, discover enchanting special events such as roasting chestnuts, caroling, and an international fruitcake eating competition.

Saint Meinrad Archabbey (A17) was founded in 1854 by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland. All are welcome to join for prayer or Mass. Take a guided tour of the beautiful architecture, stained glass, art, and peaceful grounds every Saturday at 1:30 pm. Self-guided tours available anytime.

The road continues through the rolling hills of Hoosier National Forest. With 203,000-acres, there’s a lot to explore. The German Ridge Recreation Area is close to the byway. The 24-mile German Ridge Lake Trail is open to hikers, horseback and mountain bike riders. A 1.9-mile section is dedicated to hikers only. Free entrance for day use.

Surrounded by the 26,000-acre Harrison-Crawford State Forest, is O’Bannon Woods State Park (H4). Enjoy a myriad of recreation opportunities such as fishing, canoeing, and hiking trails for every level of ability. Try the easy 1-mile Sharp Spring Trail which loops around wetlands, the 1.5-mile strenuous hike to high bluffs overlooking the Ohio River, or begin your multi-day back-country trek along the 25-mile Adventure Hiking Trail. This is a National Recreation Trail. Overnight shelters are available on a first-come first-served basis. The park is also known for its stellar mountain biking trail system and horseback riding trails. Participate in programs at the Hickory Hollow Nature Center, marvel at structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and make it an overnight with tent and RV camping, as well as horse-friendly campsites. At the Wyandotte Caves (A2), admire unique flowstone and dripstone rock formations that drape artistically inside limestone caves. There are two different tour options, one easy, and one that requires the ability to navigate stairs and steep terrain. Fee-based tours are offered on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. The caves are also home to the Indiana Bat and six other bat species.

Built between 1814 and 1816, the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site (A4) is Indiana’s first state capitol. Learn about Indiana’s history through a guided tour that explores the State Capital, the Governor’s Headquarters, and Porter Law Office. There is an entrance fee. Indiana’s only Civil War battlefield is at Battle of Corydon Park. The park is open daily and features a restored 19th-century cabin, cannon, and monuments.

Intrigued by caves and caverns? Take a tour at the Squire Boone Caverns (A6), home to unique stalactites and stalagmites, soda straws, columns, draperies, and more. Squire Boone Caverns is one of four sites along the Indiana Cave Trail. The other three sites are Bluespring Caverns (A18), Indiana Caverns (A3) and Marengo Cave (A5). There is a fee for tours. While here, explore Boone’s Mill, a working grist mill powered by a water wheel and built in the 1800’s by Squire Boone, brother of Daniel Boone.

At the Carnegie Center for Art and History (A7) peruse an eclectic mix of rotating and permanent exhibits, including work by George W. Morrison, and “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad,” which tells the story of New Albany’s important role in the Underground Railroad. Open Tuesday to Saturday. Free admission.

Sitting on Mansion Row is the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site (A8). Take a guided tour of this 25-room Victorian mansion built in 1867 by William Culbertson, once the richest man in Indiana. The stunning home features ornate hand-stenciling on the walls and ceilings, a carved rosewood staircase, marble fireplaces, period furnishings, and art. There is a fee to enter.

390-million-years in the making, traverse the largest exposed Devonian fossil bed in the world at Falls of the Ohio State Park (H5). Stop in the interpretive center for well-designed exhibits on the fossils, geology, plants, wildlife, and history. Walk along the fossil beds to spy more than 600 species of fossils, or explore by canoe or kayak. Different fossil beds will be exposed depending on the water level — between August and October, the Ohio River is at its lowest. Enjoy a picnic, wildlife and bird watching, and don’t forget to get a photo with the Lewis and Clark statue. Then hike, bike, or drive 1.5-miles to the George Rogers Clark Cabin Home Site to learn about the American Revolutionary War hero and to stand at the departure site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Big Four Pedestrian and Cycling Bridge (A13) connects Jeffersonville, Indiana with Louisville, Kentucky. Walk or bike across for exceptional views and to take in attractions in Louisville.

Amid a range of architectural styles, downtown Jeffersonville delights with shops, restaurants, the Vintage Fire Museum and more. Making candy here since 1891, is the Schimpff’s Confectionery and Candy Museum (A12). Visit the nostalgic museum which features antique candy-making equipment, packaging, and advertisements. Call in advance to book a free tour of the Candy Kitchen! And of course, indulge a little.

The Howard Steamboat Museum and Mansion (M5) was built in 1894. The 22-room Romanesque Revival home boasts period furnishings, stained glass, riverboat models, and the history of the Howard family and their steamboats. There is an entrance fee. Closed Monday.

Wander wooded trails and boardwalks at Charlestown State Park (H7) to discover lush forest and waterfalls. Hike to Rose Island and observe the curious remnants of an abandoned amusement park that reigned back in the 1920’s.

There are four waterfalls at Clifty Falls State Park (H8). The 60-foot Clifty Falls, Little Clifty Falls, Hoffman Falls, and Tunnel Falls. Hikes for every level await, including a paved ADA-accessible path at Clifty Falls, and other trails that are short but steep, or have a lot of stairs. Observe unique rock formations like Cake Rock, and learn more at the Nature Center which offers educational programs and guided walks. There is a swimming pool open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, tent and RV camping, or stay at the Clifty Inn. The charming town of Madison features a National Historical Landmark District boasting more than 130 blocks of historic buildings built between 1817 to 1939. Stroll through town and enjoy antique shops, art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and artisan cafes. Six wineries make up the Indiana Wine Trail and all are open for tours and tasting. Stop for more information at the Madison Visitors Center (A14).

Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (A15) is a “Globally Important Bird Area”. Grab your camera and binoculars to observe more than 200 species of birds including 500 pairs of state-endangered Henslow’s sparrows. All visitors are required to watch a safety video at the refuge office before entering. The refuge is open Mondays, Fridays, and the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. There is an entrance fee or use your America the Beautiful Pass.

Versailles State Park (H10) is the perfect family-friendly destination. Enjoy hiking, mountain bike trails, fishing, on-site paddle-boat and canoe rentals, a playground, camping, and 25-meter swimming pool and water slide. Swimming is prohibited in Versailles Lake. Walk across the Busching Covered Bridge constructed in 1885.

Brimming with character, stop in the town of Aurora. Explore Windows of Aurora, a series of 64 murals depicting life in Aurora in the 1800’s. Pick up a walking tour brochure or download the free app for a description of each mural. The scenic drive ends in Lawrenceburg. Enjoy the multi-use paved path that follows the Ohio River. In winter, head to Perfect North Slopes (A16) for skiing, snow-boarding and snow-tubing.

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