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 ofWhite-Nose Syndrome(WNS), a fungus that is killing bats in large numbers.
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.
- Bringing Back Spring Mill: Stories and Structures
- 1863: Stepping Back Into Spring Mill Village
- Live video from the top floor of the gristmill
Open daily from March thru October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Nature Center overlooks Spring Mill Lake and is filled with exhibits on the park’s natural and cultural history. The live animal displays feature six native snakes and an eastern box turtle. A special children’s area includes a puppet stage, floor puzzles, and coloring area. Visitors can also drop by the office of the park naturalist to ask questions.
Open daily from mid-November thru February, staffed hours vary
During the winter months, a portion of the Game Room at the Spring Mill Inn is transformed into the Nature Nook. The Nook features a drop-in craft table, natural history hand-outs, and rotating activities. The winter office for the park naturalist is located off the hallway next to the Nook.
During the summer, pool hours may change because of weather and staffing. Please contact the property office for exact times before your visit.
Open daily year-round, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
The Grissom Memorial honors Hoosier astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom, one of the seven Mercury astronauts and America’s second man in space. The Memorial tells the story of Gus Grissom’s life and his contributions to the space program. Exhibits include Grissom’s space suit, the Gemini 3 Molly Brown spacecraft, and artifacts from his personal and professional life.