Blue river Indiana Q:

In my latest edition of Canoe / Kayak magazine they did an article on the Blue River in southern Indiana.Said the river was usually open all winter. I looked on AW website, but not much info there. Also looked at some paddling groups sites in Indiana, again not much info. Anyone paddled there especially in winter? Put in / take out suggestions? Thinking about making the trip if it is indeed open. Thanks

good times
pblanc will have the answers to this. I have only done it In the summer. never had a bad time there.

I have paddled it in the winter months a fair number of times. The river is always “open” although in the drier summer months it is frequently too low to paddle.

The Blue River, given sufficient water, can be paddled all the way from Fredericksburg to its mouth at the Ohio River, a distance of about 59 miles.

For general information about paddling the Blue River see this:

and also this:

The most popular sections of the Blue River to paddle are from Milltown to Rothrock’s Mill (about 14 miles) and from Rothrock’s Mill to either Blue River Chapel (about 10 miles) or Stage Stop Campground (about 11 miles). Refer to this map:

The dam at Milltown is a real portage but if you put in at Milltown you put in below it. The so-called dams at Rothrock’s and just below White Cloud can be run. Stage Stop Campground is in the Harrison-Crawford State Forest and is closed in the winter so during the winter months you have to use the Blue River Chapel access which is always open.

The gauge to check for the Blue River is situated at White Cloud which is where both highway 62 and Interstate 64 cross over the river on side-by-side bridges:

The Rothrock’s Mill to Stage Stop Campground section can be paddled down to about 150 cfs or so but you will scrape some over some ledges. Once the river gets much over 1200 cfs or so, things start to wash out. A level of around 3-4 feet on that gauge is probably ideal.

The river is pretty much all Class I. The breached dam just below White Cloud drops several feet over a couple of boat lengths but has a smooth tongue. You can see a photo of it here:

good river guage
blue river White Cloud WHCL3 good river levels are 3 to 3.5 FT can paddle it up to 4 but is best at 3.5…below say 2.7 it can get pretty boney. the upper section Pete mentioned, Milltown to Rothrock Mills has a livery there that will shuttle you back for a very fair fee… I think it was less than $20. last year… the lower section Pete mentioned Rothrock to the Blue River Chappel is the only take out now … they closed stagestop campground last year and never opened the gates to my knowledge… I think the only camping is at the nearby State Park on the other side of the river that may or may not be named Obannon State Park…lol not sure…Its noted as a good smallmouth fishery and the water quality at the mentioned levels is somewhat stained but not badly… its a fun river to paddle with several small shoals between sections of flat water…there is another take out down toward the ohio river that i dont recommend using as the last 5 miles of this stretch is flat water or paddling against current if the Ohio is backing up into it…

Is that right, Jack?
About Stage Stop Campground being permanently closed? Of course, it has always been gated in the winter but I don’t recall being over there last summer.

I called the number for the Harrison-Crawford State Forest given on the Indiana DNR webpage and got a live person to answer. The person I talked to said he did not think it was closed, but referred me to the O’Bannon Woods State Park number as apparently O’Bannon Woods manages the campground. I was just after hours and left a message. If I find out anything I will post it here.

For what it is worth, there is no mention of Stage Stop Campground being closed on either the O’Bannon State Park webpage, the Harrison-Crawford State Forest webpage, or a Harrison-Crawford State Forest newsletter last published in September 2013, but that does not mean you are not right.

for the info. Everything frozen where I live- just itching to paddle & just a (long)days drive to get there.

stage stop
Im pretty sure stagestop campground was closed all last year … I paddled the upper stretch a few times and h.w. 62 had a bridge replaced between Levenworth and Stagestop so i didnt go by there but probably 2 times … wyandotte cave was also closed for the season as were all State Property Caves… Im not sure why it was closed but i think camping was available at the Obannon State Park… Let me know what you find out…

Caves on state property may have closed due to continuing problems (to bats) of something called white nose syndrome.

It is killing thousands of bats in the midwest & elsewhere.

Maybe not?


yep, the fungus is why cave is closed
but my understanding is that the trails and camprground at Wyandotte Park are open. That is one of my planned camping spots on my travels west this summer.

Marengo Cave
I believe that nearby Marengo Cave is still open. Someone correct me if it is not.

Marengo Cave is a Natural National Landmark.

I heard a rumor that the cave at Round Spring over on the Current River might possibly reopen this year.

Da Blue

– Last Updated: Jan-21-14 9:00 AM EST –

Stage Stop was closed when I paddled the lower section a couple times last summer. When I called at that time they had no clue when it would reopen. I ended up putting in at the Old Iron Bridge and paddling upstream (very little current on the lower Blue) until it was time to turn around.

I had planned on starting at Leavenworth and paddling up from there but I live just on the KY side of the Ohio so with 62 closed east of Leavenworth we just put in at the old bridge so we could take 62 out of Corydon and avoid a long detour on I-64.

I've never paddled the upper sections, but I know it suffers from an occasional lack of water.

You might check the local clubs Louisville Area Canoe and Kayak or Kentuckiana Paddlers Association websites or Facebook pages and see if anyone has recent information.

I also found this site helpful, with the caveat that I'm not sure how often the info is updated, although they do show Stage Stop closed for 2013.

I did confirm that the campground at Stage Stop was closed all of last summer.

I have called O’Bannon State Park (which manages the campground at Stage Stop) twice and asked if it would be open this summer. The person I spoke to did not know and I was promised a call back, which I never got.

Stage Stop Campground
I spoke today with someone knowledgeable at O’Bannon Woods State Park who told me that the Campgound and river access at Stage Stop will not be open again this year.

This will hopefully not be a permanent closure. There are several issues that need to be addressed, however. There is a ruptured water line, the pit toilet cisterns are leaking, and the concrete boat ramp is largely washed away. There were also issues with people trashing the outhouses and parking lot area at the river access.

The state park management is trying to decide how to address these issues and how best to manage the facility in the future. I am apparently the first paddler they have spoken to. The park management welcomes suggestions which can be left here:

For those wanting to take out below Blue River Chapel but above the “iron bridge”, there are some pull-outs along highway 62 a just west of the entrance to Stage Stop Campground where the highway closely parallels the river which can be used for access, but you had best walk down to the river and mark the area first.

The campground is a perfect for an overnight trip. I’m sad (but not surprised) to see part of the problem is bad behavior by human visitors, the amount of trash I see when paddling/hiking/camping is unfortunate. Thanks very much for taking the time to follow up with the Park folks, I’m thinking of paddler friendly suggestions to submit.