It’s because of places like Thistlethwaite Falls that keep me advocating that families keep bathing suits and/or towels ready in their car — even if the day is jam-packed or the road trip is over or you have no plans to be in or near water. You never know when you’ll come upon a stream, a pool, a must-do water slide, a splash park….or an Indiana waterfall!
Our first trip to Thistlethwaite Falls was an accidental discovery on our way home from our 3000-mile summer road trip. Our girls were two and four years old and we found ourselves in Richmond, Indiana one hour from home and 5 minutes from a waterfall. Since that summer visit, we’ve returned many times and found so many fun things to do in Richmond Indiana with kids. In addition to fun summer activities, we love visiting for the winter event, Meltdown Ice Festival.
Thistlethwaite Falls in Richmond, Indiana
Thistlethwaite Falls is a man made waterfall that is free to visit and open to the public daily, from dawn to dusk. In the 1800’s Thistlethwaite Falls created waterpower for a nearby sawmill. The sawmill is closed and the falls remain a beautiful sight for visitors and residents. Thistlethwaite Falls was voted one of the best Indiana waterfalls.
The roar of the water is calming and kids are drawn to the cascading whitewater as it flows over the rock formation. Plan on staying awhile because the allure of the water is strong. It’s a good idea to bring collapsible camping chairs, a towel, buckets for collecting fossils and maybe even a net to capture critters for observation.
Where is Thistlethwaite Falls?
Thistlethwaite Falls is located is Richmond, Indiana, just about 75 miles from Indianapolis. You’ll find the falls in the Spring Grove area on Waterfall Road, just inside Springwood Park. Park just above the falls and make your way down the steps. This site is not ADA accessible.
Things to do at Thistlethwaite Falls
Younger children will love just walking around creek stomping. There are lots of things to look at — insects, crayfish and little teeny fish. Not only will you find a lot of cool rocks, but there are fossils everywhere and visitors are allowed to take them home! The falls are a part of the Whitewater Valley Fossil Hunt, a free passport program that helps kids get a little glimpse at what life was like in Indiana 445 million years ago and promote experiential tourism in eastern Indiana.
Older children will love all of the activities that littles love, but they can also add in the challenge of climbing up the face of the falls and sliding down a carefully selected area. Visitors can build dams to slow the water or redirect it as it continues down the creek. Really, there’s no shortage of fun.
Tips for Visiting Thistlethwaite Falls
1. How long is the “short hike” to the falls?
Depending on where you park, it should take you 3-5 minutes to get to the falls. We parked across the street from the falls in front of Springwood Park, walked across the street (use caution), down a path for a few seconds and then took some cement stairs to the bottom of the falls.
2. Where exactly are the falls located, there’s no accurate address provided?
If you put 60 Waterfall Road, Richmond, Indiana into your GPS, you’ll end up across the street from the falls. Look for the Steel Workers sign.
3. What are some other things to know?
The water is very mossy but clear. There are insects a-plenty but most won’t bother you once you are in the water. WEAR WATER SHOES or old tennis shoes.
4. Where are the bathrooms at Thistlethwaite Falls?
There are no restrooms at the falls or near the falls.
60 Waterfall Road