As full-time RV’ers we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. We live a life of “Opting Out of Normal”. Hope you enjoy this series.
Indiana – Who knew we’d find so much to do there? So much, I’m only scratching the surface in Indiana. I was writing and writing and realized it was going to be just too long of a post, so I picked out just the ones I hoped would be fun for everyone. There are so many more.
I’m sure this isn’t much of an “off the beaten path” find anymore, as it’s become a little popular, but it’s still a really unique and interesting thing to see! Located in Mooresville is one of the strangest stretches of roads in the entire world. Locals nicknamed it “Gravity Hill” as drivers have reported rolling up the hill backwards when they park their cars in neutral at the bottom of the hill. Go see for yourself. The hill is located about a mile off IN-42 on Keller Hill Road. Mooresville’s famous Gravity Hill is actually an optical illusion, but it is a strange one. If you were to place a ball in the road the hill will immediately start to pull it “up” – wait … up? Yes! In the wrong direction, according to gravity. Again, it’s a strange optical illusion. You’ll have to check this road out! It’s pretty strange! Definitely messes with what you think you’re seeing. There is kind of a creepy ledgend about this road. Go check it out, and let us know if you see “fingerprints in flour” on your bumper. Ha! Bring a little bag of flour if you’re curious! Directions: Take exit 59 off of I-70 to Highway 39, then turn left on Keller Hill Road. Take the road to the dead end, then turn around. One mile after turning around, you will find the hill.
Greensburg Tree Tower
This is a strange but interesting find. If you’re in the area, it’s kind of a cool thing to see. In the early 1870s, residents noticed something unusual was happening in the town’s main square. A tree had sprouted on the roof of the county courthouse. Many years later, this small tree grew into a large tree, and more trees have sprouted on the roof throughout the years. Locals and experts are still dumbfounded how these trees managed to grow 110 feet off the ground but city officials suspect nature planted the original seed in the 1870’s, by either wind or bird. However, the 50-year-old tree that hugs the clock tower now is a direct descendant. Definitely something that makes you say “huh?”.
I had to include a kayaking trip! Paddling Cataract Falls in Cloverdale, (Owen County) is a special treat with the 2 sets of falls cascading 86 feet down. It’s only a little more than an hour from Indianapolis. It’s a short kayak day trip of only about a 3.6 mile trip. You also can hike from the lower falls to the upper falls before heading back.
FAVORITE PICK: Things like this are just fascinating to us! This is the longest navigable underground river in the U.S. and get this … home to countless blind and albino animals. The Bluesrping Caverns were first discovered in the 19th century and more entrances to the caves were discovered into the 1940’s. The constant darkness has created a unique setting where blind, albino species can thrive. In addition to bugs like crickets, beetles, and spiders, larger creatures such as salamanders, frogs, and crayfish all live under, above, and upon the flowing waters, many of them purely white or almost clear looking. There is even an extremely rare species of blind cave fish that swims the waters. Tours down the river are available, taking visitors meandering across the underground waters for about an hour where sightings of albino wildlife are abundant. While I do wish humans were more responsible and could be trusted with such a beautiful find, and we could see these caves on our own, we are very happy that an organization is taking care to preserve this. It’s a must see!!
Grave in the Middle of the Road
This might not be something to go out of your way to see, but very quirky! The story is kind of funny! And sad, at the same time. And … it’s in Amity, Indiana. Ha! Of course it is! In 1831, a woman named Nancy Kerlin Barnett passed away, and she was buried on a hill near Sugar Creek. In 1905, officials planned to build County Road 400 right through Barnett’s grave. They changed their minds when Barnett’s grandson showed up with a shotgun and threatened them. To compromise, they built the two lanes of the road around the grave, making it one of the few known grave sites located in the middle of a road. Update: In 2016 the Grave in the Middle of the Road along Indiana’s rural County Road 400 got a makeover. The road has been divided around the grave since the road was constructed in 1905. The grave, which lies directly in the middle of two lanes of traffic, has caused numerous accidents throughout the years. Warning signs and concrete bollards were added, but apparently that didn’t cut it. In 2016 archeologists from the University of Indiana were called in to excavate the 1831 burial of Nancy Kerlin Barnett so the road could be widened. Unexpectedly, the remains of at least seven other individuals were also discovered in the hill. Creepy! Very Creepy! I’ll have to follow up and see if the other 7 bodies were ever identified.
Jug Rock is kind of hard to explain, so you might just have to see it for yourself. It is the largest free-standing rock formation in the eastern half of the United States. This rare rock formation is located within Jug Rock Nature Preserve, located outside of the small town of Shoals. the intrigue of Jug Rock – standing alone in the midst of a forest, with no telling rivers, open fields or companion rocks in sight.
Directions: North edge of town, on the north side of US Hwy 50. Drive slow. You’ll see a street sign for Albright Lane. Pull off the highway there and park in the tiny gravel turnoff. Only then will you see Jug Rock back in the trees, and a tiny directional sign, “Jug Rock,” with an arrow, that you would never see at highway speed. A path leads through the trees to the Rock. You just gotta see this thing!
Did you know this abandoned limestone quarry in southern Indiana provided the stone to erect the Empire State Building? A large number of iconic American structures are made out of Indiana limestone, including the Empire State Building, the Washington National Cathedral, the Pentagon, and 35 of the 50 current state capitol buildings. The deepness of these pools and minerals from the limestone foundation give the water an aquamarine color, which is just amazingly beautiful. Important Information: Note that this is private property- if you’re caught here you may be scolded by a grumpy man in a hard hat. As of July 2017, there are now signs that read, “No Trespassing. Live Ammunition In Use.” To reach the quarry, you will have to follow these exact directions. Starting at the Dollar General in Oolitic, (seriously! Ha) you’ll want to take the highway heading out. Driving down you’ll see a church. Take a left at the Church. Take this road all the way down past the brewery. At the end of the road there will be a cemetery on the right on a rock road. If you get confused stop in the dollar general and ask the cashier for directions to the Empire Quarry. They’ll know. Ha!
RV Hall of fame / Elkhart Indiana
This was a great place! We really enjoyed it, and with the fact you can park and boondock/free camp in their parking lot for 2 days, it made it even more fun. If you like to Geocashe make sure you check out the local (walking distance) Geocaches in the area too. Don’t know what Geocaching is? Check out our blog here. When we were there this last year, they were planning some sort of a big RV park it seemed. I’d love to go back and see what they are doing with that area. If you visit here after it’s completed, do tell! Would love to know! This is such a neat look into the history of RV’s and my really interesting “RV’s” like the one built for Mae West in 1931 while she was filming. There is also an archive of thousands of periodicals, manuals, and photographs all having to do with the RV industry up on the 2nd floor. This is a really fun place for kids too.
Albany Shoe Tree
I was a little hesitant to add this to my “favorites” list. First off, there is an awful lot of shoes in Indiana. Corners where shoes are piled, streets where shoes are strategically placed. I’m confused, but ??? Though we are not ones that like to see people use nature as things like this, the “Shoe Tree” in Albany, Indiana, which started as a quirky tradition for local teenagers, but grew to be embraced by the entire community. There are just shoes everywhere. We don’t understand the point, but there must be one. The actual number of shoes hanging from the Shoe Tree fluctuates more than one might think. Again … we certainly don’t condone this sort of thing, but this one seems like a tradition here. The tree seems to be dead, which is sad, and we hope that the shoes weren’t what killed it. But instead, made it continue to live through “art”. Again, not something I’d go out of my way to see, but if you’re in the area, might as well stop and look at the different shoes. A lot of old old shoes on that tree! Directions: Take Highway 28 to Strong Road, pass Strong Cemetery and turn right onto Edgewater road. The tree is visible from the road.
New Harmony Labyrinth
Free, and hard to miss! Easy to get to! Easy to find. Super fun for the kids. Really cool and unique history behind this. I’ll let you read about it.
Don’t miss our other “Off the Beaten Path” blogs! It’s our whole series you might enjoy! Click the links below to read one you might enjoy!
Last but not least – in every issue of our “Off the Beaten Path” series, I include our favorite boondocking place. This was another beautiful, amazing place in Indiana. Can you believe this is free? This was right across the road from a beautiful working horse ranch. My gosh the horses were beautiful and the owners were even more amazing. VERY nice couple who welcomed us and gave us some insider tips to the local farmers markets and closest town. This is Youngs Trailhead, in the Hoosier National Forest.