Charlestown State Park

Charlestown State Park is in Charlestown, Indiana.  It’s a pretty small town, but is just east of Jeffersonville and Clarksville, both of which are much bigger.  Lying across the Ohio River from Louisville, one has access to all kinds of stores and activities.

I’ve camped here three times previously, all in my travel trailer.  It’s a favorite campground for several reasons: it is directly connected to New Castle by Indiana State Road 3, an easy drive.  It has full hook up sites (which is rather rare in the Indiana State Park system).  And it’s almost never, ever busy.  There are times when I’m one of a handful of campers in a park with 190 designated sites. It’s a bit nuts how empty it is, but I’m not complaining.


Third largest state park in Indiana, and right on the Ohio river, as seen at the far right of the Google satellite image.

Site 98 is my current location.  I’ve actually camped in this very site previously.  I like that it is fairly private.


My spot

I marked site 98 with a red asterisk.  Isn’t it crazy how empty this campground can be?

I’ve never camped here so early in the season–my previous stays were in late summer and early fall.  The red buds are beautiful.  And there are flowering dogwoods as well.

Main road through the park


There are a ton of birds here, most of which I don’t recognize.  I’ve also seen deer, wild turkey, rabbits and turtles.  You can hear coyotes yipping at night.  It’s very peaceful, all in all.  I had great weather for the first few days I was here, but it’s been raining pretty steadily for the past two.

Looking west along the Ohio
Looking east on the Ohio

Charlestown is a very young park, having opened in the 90s.  Prior to this, it was actually an ammunition manufacturing location for the Army.  It was built around the start of World War 2.  Remnants of its past remain; apparently the process required a ton of water, so they built these Ranney wells, which can gather a lot more water than a typical single shaft well.

Ranney well

Before the Army owned the land, it had been cleared for farming.  Under the management of the military, the native trees were allowed to grow back, which has led to the amazing woods we now get to enjoy.

The other remarkable thing about Charlestown is that a piece of land right on the Ohio was the site of an amusement park called Rose Island.  It was opened in the early 1920s, and people would come from Madison and Louisville by ferry.  It had a hotel, a ferris wheel, a wooden coaster, a small zoo, and a large pool, among other attractions.

Rose Island postcard
Rose Island swimming pool

However, the great flood of 1937 left ten feet of water covering the park, and the damage was so great that it was  closed permanently.  However, pieces remain and can be explored as part of the trail system in Charlestown State Park.

The swimming pool

I’m leaving tomorrow; headed to Evansville area.  However, I’m sure I’ll be back at this park in the future.  Feel free to hit me with comments below.  Have you been to this park?  Any favorite state parks in Indiana for camping?  Let me know!









2 Replies to “Charlestown State Park”

  1. Thanks! I appreciate that, but I was a biology major with a concentration in genetics. However, I have always liked writing and have published fan fiction with some good feedback. One of my works is well over 100,000 words and I’ve thought about publishing it to Amazon, but the revisions needed are daunting.


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