Spring Mill State Park, located just east of Mitchell (Indiana) is a very unique park indeed. Centered around an 1800′s community and its gristmill, visitors of all ages will be delighted by well-preserved homes and businesses as they get a glimpse into life in southern Indiana in the early nineteenth century.
Pioneer entrepreneurs took advantage of a water source that would never freeze, using it to power gristmills, a saw mill, a wool mill, and distillery. In turn, pioneer settlers worked hard to shap the landscape around the village, clearing land for agriculture and timber. Their water source that never froze? A cave in the side of a hill located just a hundred yards upstream that you can easily get to.
Speaking of caves, Spring Mill has several of them. The most interesting caves are the Twin Caves. A stream rushes out of one and travels into the other a short distance down stream. Boat tours are offered into Twin Caves and it is a unique trip worth taking for the family. Other caves dot the park, but several have been closed to help protect the Indiana Brown Bat and other species.
Spring Mill is also a celebration of one of America’s most famous astronauts. Virgil “Gus” Grissom was a native of the area and flew in several NASA space flights. He was the first to fly in the Gemini Project and was scheduled to be the first in the Apollo Missions as well. A fire on the launchpad, however, cut this native son’s life short. This national tragedy helped to bring new safety measures to our space program.
Spring Mill has many things to offer visitors. From caves to historical settings to hiking to a memorial for a fallen hero, this state park has much to offer families with all ages of children. Below you will find information as provided by the Indiana Dept. or Natural Resources.
Open Daily from May thru mid-October, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 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.
Open Daily from March thru October, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 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.
Open Daily Year-Round, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 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, one of the space capsules he flew in, and many artifacts from his personal and professional life.
Twin Caves Boat Tour
Open Daily from Memorial Day Weekend thru mid-August, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Open Weekends from mid-August thru mid-October, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 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 $1/person for ages 3-10 or $3/person for ages 11 and up; no credit cards. Children under age 3 are not allowed on the tour.
The underground world of the park is opened up to visitors on this unique cave tour. Guides pull the boats thru a stream passage while highlighting cave formations and searching for cave animals (the endangered blind cavefish is a common sighting).
Activities and Facilities
- Pioneer Village
- Grissom Memorial
- Nature Center/Interpretive Naturalist Services
- Nature Nook
- Twin Caves Boat Tour
- Schools and Groups
- Hiking & Biking
- Lodging & Dining
- Shelters & Picnic Areas – (Shelter Reservations)
- Public Swimming Pool (Policy)
- Campstore / Hayrides / Bike Rental
- Cave River Valley Natural Area Management Plan
- Nature Preserves
- Donaldson, Bronson, and Hamer Caves
- Electric / 187 sites
- Primitive / 36 sites
- Youth Tent Areas
- Camp Store
- Dumping Station
Spring Mill Events