Clifty Falls State Park in Madison, Indiana was the destination for our very first RV trip. As a couple of RV newbies with a lot to learn, we discovered a few things during that inaugural experience. The first lesson, It takes longer than you think to get somewhere, was the cause of the second, It is hard to set up in the dark.
After a full day of activities: church; lunch out; packing up; and happily showing the new RV to friends and neighbors who stopped by, we finally took off for the two and a half hour trip down to Southern Indiana. Our 2015 Newmar Ventana LE RV is 38 feet long, plus we tow a four door jeep. If we miss a turn, we can’t back up. That leads to little detours where a series of turns are made to get back on track – which definitely adds time to the journey.
We arrived at the park just about 9:00 pm. There are two entrance gates to the park: the North Gate and the South Gate. Our GPS (dedicated to RV travel) was taking us to the South Gate off Indiana State Road 56, but we turned left too soon and it rerouted us to the North Gate off Indiana State Road 62. Since it wasn’t the gate the GPS initially was leading us to, we weren’t sure if it was RV friendly. Roy parked it on the side of the highway and I sprinted up to the gate entrance. The attendant was helpful and friendly and said it was fine to go in that way. So we pulled up, showed our Indiana State Park Pass (fee without it is $7 for in-state residents or $9 for out-of-state), and she gave us a map and directions to the campground.
It was about a mile from the gate to the campground and the road is narrow and twisty. We found out later (when there was better light) that there really isn’t too much shoulder and quite a drop off in certain places. We checked into the campground gatehouse and received a packet which included a map and directions to our site. Just as darkness was descending, we pulled over to the side, and unhooked the jeep from the RV. I hopped into the jeep and led the way to site #24. The numbers are on wooded poles and they weren’t too easy to see in the faint light. We found our camp site and Roy did a great job of backing in. He proceeded to set down the automatic levelers and they whirled and whined for about two minutes straight until the flashing message read “ground uneven”. I directed Roy to move a few feet forward and watched while he tried again. I realized we were not dealing with a cement pad, but a muddy, gravel covered parking area. The levelers seemed to sink down each time they “thought” they found a stable spot. Again Roy moved forward until the front of the RV was almost flush to the campground road. The levelers went to work, and this time they tried so hard that the RV wheels actually lifted off the ground. Immediately, Roy pulled the levelers up. By this time it was completely dark and the attendant of the campground gatehouse was long gone. We made sure the emergency brake was on, and resigned ourselves to the fact they we were going to spend our first night in our new RV with the slides in.
We spent most of the next morning checking out sites that we were told were available. We choose #72 because it seemed to be flat and we moved the RV into that one. We were able to use the levelers without any problems. During our stay, we saw a couple of other RVs struggle with trying to get level, and one finally just gave up and left the park. So our third lesson was, Even a “slight” incline is too much for RVs like ours.
The sites at Clifty Falls are typical for a state park. They offer only electricity, and have no water hook up. Needless to say there isn’t cable either, but the whole time we were there – we never thought about watching TV. I don’t think we would have been able to find any channels if we had wanted to. In the campground there is a drinkable water spigot located at each of the rest room/shower shelters. There is also a dump station near the campground gatehouse. However, there is not a normal water hose to flush out a black water tank after it is emptied. Instead there is a strange metal “wand”, that is not able to be attached like a hose is.
The best thing about Clifty Falls is its fabulous hiking trails. Out of the ten of them, only one is rated “easy”, one is “moderate”, and the rest range from “moderately rugged” to “very rugged”. During the five days we were there, it rained on and off each day. Then the sun would come out and we would hike until it started raining again. This was actually very lucky because when it doesn’t rain for several days, the falls slow down to just drips. It was so humid and so hot, but viewing the beautiful falls, foliage, and wild life was worth being soaked in sweat. We saw a fox, several deer, a turtle, a raccoon, a herd of turkeys, a possum, and some kind of little ground hog type animal.
There are four main waterfalls that can be seen from the trails: Big Clifty Falls, Little Clifty Falls, Hoffman Falls, and Tunnel Falls.
The trails definitely merit their “rugged” status; many had narrow walkways with huge drop offs.
Several times we found that two or more trails would converge. With the help of the trail map, we could start on one, hop on another, and make our way all over the park. Click HERE for a map of the park.
One big regret: trail two follows the creek and we had to turn back since we didn’t want to get our hiking boots soaked. Next time, I’ll be prepared because it was beautiful and it would have been a fun path to take.
Cake Rock looks like its going to topple over any minute.
Hang on to your kids and dogs – the drop offs are steep!
The swimming pool looked really fun. This is as close as I got because every time we went with swim suits on, it was closed. Apparently it’s not open every day of the week – or if it looks like rain.
The Clifty Falls Inn has a beautiful view of the Ohio River. It also has a restaurant which we never tried. We cooked all our meals at the campsite, but one night went into the cute town of Madison for ice cream.
Madison has an amazing historic district and a really nice board walk that runs along the river. We didn’t tour the various homes that are open for viewing but they were beautiful to look out from the outside.
The Lanier House is rated as the number one attraction in Madison on Trip Advisor.
I bet this park is absolutely gorgeous in the fall! The hiking was fantastic and I’d love to return. I’d also love to hear about anyone else’s experience with Clifty Falls or learning how to RV. Please comment!
Just for fun, here are some links to some other Yates social media sites: