Visiting Thistlethwaite Falls
Thistlethwaite Falls is just one of many waterfalls that can be found in Indiana! When thinking of the midwest or Indiana, not many people envision waterfalls, but this state holds some of the most amazing wonders of nature. Thistlethwaite Falls is a mouthful to say, it is pronounced “Thistle-wait” (the “th” is silent).
Thistlethwaite Falls is located in Richmond, Indiana, about 1 1/2 hours east of Indianapolis and an hour west of Dayton, Ohio. And just a few miles north of the famous U.S. Route 40 (in fact, it’s sandwiched in between Route 40 and Interstate 70).
COVID disclaimer: When traveling and visiting businesses, please check state and business guidelines and hours before arriving. As always, be safe for yourself and others!
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The history of Thistlethwaite Falls
It’s pretty hard to believe that Thistlethwaite Falls is a man-made waterfall! But in 1954 a man named Timothy Thistlethwaite dammed the river, which created the waterfall, and built mills at the site (the mills are no longer remaining).
You can still search and find ancient fossils here!
Finding Thistlethwaite Falls
The waterfall can be a bit tricky to find. It’s located on Waterfall Road (65 Waterfall Road, Richmond, Indiana) however if you use a digital map (such as Google Maps) it does not take you directly to the spot. That is because the waterfall is a bit hidden. Once you arrive at the location, you’ll notice a gravel area off the side of the road that is available for parking, a bridge that is over the top of the waterfall, and Springwood Park is across this street. Look for these landmarks!
Once parked, you will take a small path to the park and walk down some old, steep stairs to get to the river and bottom of the waterfall. Small children will need help with the stairs, as they are uneven and rocky in some places. Unfortunately, there is not a handicap-accessible way to get to the falls but there is a small viewing area at the top that is handicap accessible.
The trail to Thistlethwaite Falls is also part of the Whitewater Gorge Park trail along the river.
What to do at Thistlethwaite Falls
There is plenty to do here! We spent a few hours, but you can easily fill a whole day with activities. Along with hanging out at the waterfall and doing some river stomping, Springwood Park is across the street and offers fishing, a playground, volleyball nets, and hiking. Additionally, there are many more activities to do in Richmond, Indiana. Check out Visit Richmond for more ideas.
If you drive an hour east in Ohio, you can visit The World’s Largest Aviation Museum in Dayton, Ohio!
Tips for Visiting Thistlethwaite Falls
- Bring water shoes! Or old tennis shoes, something you don’t mind getting wet and walking in. The river and around the falls is very rocky and has some slippy spots. Your feet will appreciate this tip.
- Use the bathroom before you arrive. There are NO bathrooms available anywhere in the area, not even at the Springwood Park across the street.
- Take a chair. If you plan on staying a while, bring a camping chair. There aren’t many options for seating beside a few rocks and fallen trees.
- Pack sunscreen & bug spray. I always recommend this, but the bug spray is pretty important since this is a wooded area.
- A reminder that dogs are allowed. Just a heads up if you are allergic! Additionally, there are no rules posted in the area for leash restrictions.
- Bring a waterproof phone case. If you’d like to get pictures near the falls, or creek stomping, bring something waterproof to keep your phone in. The risk of slipping with a phone in hand is a possibility that can be avoided.
- Bring a net and bucket. To catch tadpoles for fishing, there are plenty of them here! Or just to do some exploring.
- Leave the floaties at home. There really isn’t a place or need for location devices here. The water is shallow and the river floor is a bit rough.