Blue River flows through one of the most scenic, interesting and diverse areas of Indiana. There is the opportunity to experience the pastoral tranquility of rural farmland, extensive forests, numerous caves, and a wealth of historical attractions.
The river originates in Washington County in southern Indiana, and for a portion of its journey to the Ohio it forms the boundary between Harrison and Crawford Counties. It is an entrenched stream whose meanders have cut deep into the Mississippian limestone bedrock. A series of "half canyons" lie astride the Blue never completely enclosing it. The Crawford Upland region is typical of a karst (limestone) topography with its many sink holes and caves formed as water dissolved the rock. The limestone walls along the river are usually shrouded in a heavy cover of trees and shrubs.
Rock is a constant feature of the stream bed, but much of it is covered by sediment. The rapids reveal gravel bars, however, and the canoeists must remain alert for submerged boulders which can be quite hazardous. The width, depth, and gradient of the river vary, but it is about 85 feet wide. Average depth is about five feet deep, and the river falls at about four feet per mile.
The Blue River area was first explored by Squire Boone, Daniel Boone's brother. He found large Indian populations whose sites can still be found today.
Please do not trespass on private property! Keep in mind that the banks of all rivers in Indiana should be considered private property. Only a very small part of the riverbanks in Indiana are in public ownership. Please also remember to "carry out all that you carry in" when you take a canoeing trip. Help prevent litter. Click HERE for more information about river rights.
Milltown to Rothrock Mill
Another day-long trip would be from Milltown to the Rothrock Mill Access Site owned by the Department of Natural Resources. The trip is about 13 miles in length and should take 4-6 hours to float. The mill dam has been breached, but canoeists should still portage around the old mill and dam site on the left bank. Watch for the iron bridge about 800 feet upstream from the Rothrock Mill Access Site and take out on the left bank at a gravel ramp and wooden steps. You may picnic at the access site, but overnight camping is not allowed. To reach the mill by car, take Leavenworth Road south from Milltown about 4 miles to Old Mill Road where you turn left (east) and follow this primitive road about 2 1/2 miles to the river. Cross the bridge and watch for the access site on your right. Pay close attention to the directions for this shuttle; topographic or county road maps would be helpful.
Rothrock Mill Access Site to Harrison-Crawford State Forest
The float from Rothrock Mill Access Site to Harrison-Crawford State Forest is about 10 miles long and takes 3-4 hours. This section of the river flows under Interstate 64 and State Road 62 before encountering another old mill dam near White Cloud. You may be able to navigate through the middle of this small dam since it has also been breached, but you may also want to portage around either side of the dam, particularly if the river is above average flow. Continuing the float, you will come to the State Road 462 bridge in about 2 miles; within another 1/2 mile, a Department of Natural Resources access site is available on the right bank (near Blue River Chapel) just downstream of the bridge. Another mile will take you to a large "horseshoe" bend in the river, on the right bank is Stagestop Campground, owned by the Department of Natural Resources. You will also be able to exit the river at the Stagestop Campground sign.
If you wish to continue another 10 miles to the mouth of Blue River, a Department of Natural Resources access site is located on the right bank at the confluence with the Ohio River; the lower several miles of the river are very slow flowing. The road to the access site at the Ohio River is indicated by a boat ramp sign and arrow pointing to the left on State Road 62 about 4 miles west of the road to Stagestop Campground.
From Rothrock Mill Access Site to the access site near Blue River Chapel or to Stagestop Campground, two shuttle routes may be taken. Leaving the mill, go southeast on Rothrock Mill Road and immediately turn right (south) onto Burgess Circle Road. Follow this road along the river and turn right (south) at the next road, which is Moberly Road. Turn right (south) at Harrison Spring Road (paved) and follow it south to State Road 62. Turn right (west) on State Road 62 and another three miles will take you to the road to Blue River Chapel and less than another 1/2 mile to the road to Stagestop Campground. Both roads are on the left (south) side of the road.
The alternate shuttle route leads up a steep gravel road which may be difficult to drive on in wet weather. For this route go northwest on Rothrock Mill Road and cross Blue River. Continue up the hill on Old Mill Road and turn left (south) on Leavenworth Road to State Road 62. Turn left (east) on State Road 62 and continue to the campground road or road to the chapel. Topographic or county maps would also be helpful for both of these shuttles.