Spring Mill State Park offers a powerful illustration of the link between the natural and cultural worlds. The water flowing from several cave springs led to the founding of an industrial village in the early 1800s. Pioneer entrepreneurs took advantage of a constant water source that never froze, using it to power several gristmills, a wool mill, a saw mill, and a distillery. In turn, pioneer settlers shaped the landscape around the village, clearing land for agriculture and timber.
The park today continues to illustrate how nature shapes us and how we shape our environment. A parcel of virgin timber sits in contrast to regenerated forest, a man-made lake struggles to survive against the in-flow of silt from cave-fed systems, and the native flora and fauna face challenges from man’s introduction of new species. Spring Mill Lake is being restored.
Visitors can explore this story in the park’s four interpretive facilities—the Pioneer Village, Nature Center, Grissom Memorial, and Twin Caves Boat Tour—and see it reflected on the landscape as they hike the trails. The interpretive staff also offers a wide variety of public programs, including an extensive special events schedule. Public programs are offered year-round. Program schedules.
Selected caves at Spring Mill State Park and Cave River Valley Natural Area are open for limited access for self-guided recreational groups. This program is a partnership with the Indiana Karst Conservancy (IKC). Groups must register in advance through IKC, and must complete online training explaining decontamination procedures established to prevent the spread of White-Nose Syndrome(WNS), a fungus that is killing bats in large numbers.
Donaldson/Bronson Cave will be available for visitation by registered groups year-round. The DNR portion of Upper Twin Cave will be available for registered groups from November 1 – May 15. Endless and River Caves in Cave River Valley Natural Area will be available for registered groups from May 1 – August 31.
Twin Caves Boat Tours will continue as usual in the park, and the dry side of Donaldson Cave, which is accessible from Trail 3, will be open to individual visitors.
Twin Caves Boat Tour
Open daily from Memorial Day Weekend thru mid-August, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open weekends from mid-August thru mid-October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours run on the half-hour. Only same day reservations are accepted and they must be made in-person at the Twin Caves shack. Cost is $3 per person. Children under age 3 and pets are not allowed on the tour. Food and drinks not allowed on boats. Guides pull the boats through a stream passage while highlighting cave formations and searching for cave animals (the endangered blind cavefish is a common sighting).
Open Daily from May thru mid-October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Additional days and times as posted.
The restored Pioneer Village, founded in 1814, contains 20 historic buildings to explore. The centerpiece is a 3-story limestone gristmill, built in 1817, that still grinds cornmeal today. Heritage interpreters portray the year 1863 and demonstrate period crafts.