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Indiana Eco-Traveler Update: March 11, 2018

Hoosier National Special Places – Hemlock Cliffs, Wesley Chapel Gulf

Hemlock Cliffs

Hemlock Cliffs is arguably the most inspiring of the Hoosier National Forest’s self-declared Special Places. Encompassing a narrow, 150-foot-deep sandstone box canyon, this Crawford County natural sanctum supports towering hardwood trees and rare plants that thrive in its cool micro climes, including the namesake evergreen.

Natural features include seasonal waterfalls, small caves and subterranean drainage conduits into the soluble, limestone bedrock that underlies the cliffs and canyon floor.

Wesley Chapel Gulf

A National Natural Landmark, Wesley Chapel Gulf offers a rare glimpse into the subterranean world of the Lost River Watershed in western Orange County. The 187-acre Special Place protects an exposed, peanut-shaped gulf created by the collapse of the limestone ceiling above an underground stream.

The mysterious 87-mile Lost River rises in Washington County and flows through Southern Indiana ag country before sinking underground by a farm field five miles to the east of Wesley Chapel Gulf. Its path from there runs some 23 miles underground, before re-emerging two miles to the gulf’s west.

Read more

Latest video: This is Southeast Indiana?

Many thanks to Liz Brownlee and the Oak Heritage Conservancy for affording me the honor of speaking at their annual meeting this year. The Oct. 14 event attracted 80 Southeast Indiana nature lovers – a record I’m told – at The Sherman in downtown Batesville.

Oak Heritage is one of the newest land trusts in Indiana and owns or manages more than 700 acres of the state’s southeastern-most natural heritage. As always happens when I presume to educate, the evening was likewise educational for me, in multiple ways. For example, I learned John Sunman’s Woods, which was owned by Central Indiana Land Trust when I wrote A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana, is now owned by Oak Heritage.

And then there was an embarrassing mistake in the 10-minute slideshow I presented after my talk. Falling in the shoulda-known-better column, I relied on my mental map of Indiana counties and placed the Oxbow in Switzerland County instead of Dearborn, where it belonged. Since this piece of waterfowl heaven is one of the region’s true natural gems, several audience members were of course intimately familiar with it and noted the error.

Subsequent edits have corrected that geographical miscue, as well as a misnamed pond at that same bottomland refuge in Lawrenceburg, where Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky meet, where the Great Miami River meets the Ohio.

I have posted This is Southeast Indiana? on the Natural Bloomington YouTube Channel. Read about the Oak Heritage meeting in the Batesville Herald-Tribune.

Nature Photo eBook - This is Indiana?

Natural Bloomington is pleased to announce release of our first Nature Photo eBook This is Indiana? - The Natural Bloomington Journey: 2013-2015.

This is Indiana? is a photographic retrospective of Natural Bloomington's first three years and features 105 hi res, full-color images of the Southern Indiana landscape from the Switzerland Hills to the Southwest Lowlands.You can download a copy of This is Indiana? for free. A $10 contribution is requested.



Natural Bloomington continues to evolve

From ecotours
to nature books

Natural Bloomington's transition from ecotourism to nature book publishing continued in 2017 with the completion of A Guide to Natural Areas of Northern Indiana, which will be published in Spring 2019.

A companion to A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana, IU Press 2016, the northern Indiana guide will feature 125 natural areas -- public and private nature preserves, state parks, fish & wildlife areas, etc. -- that are managed for flora, fauna, and recreation, along with 145 images.

The focus has now shifted to a coffee table book tentatively titled The Hoosier National Forest: Rewilding Southern Indiana, which will likewise be published by IU Press.

We - owner Steven Higgs and family and friends who support the Natural Bloomington Mission in so many ways - will still arrange ecotours on request.

But the emphasis for the next two years will be exploriong solo what little is left of the unexpected natural beauty that is still to be found in Indiana, north and south.

A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana features anecdotes, directions and photographs of 119 natural areas between I-70 and the Ohio River. Here's what author James Alexander Thom said in the Foreword.

"In this guidebook, Steven Higgs has compiled and written a hundred times more good, useful information about my native state's natural treasures than I ever learned in eighty years of crawling, hiking, riding, swimming, and paddling all over them.”

To purchase a copy and support the Natural Bloomington mission, click here.


Natural Bloomington's mission is to celebrate and share Southern Indiana's natural beauty through image, prose and ecotourism.


Through our Historic, Environmental & Scenic Ecotours, Natural Bloomington subscribes to the principles set down by the International EcoTourism Society for “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."

Natural Bloomington welcomes the opportunity to lead groups on ecotours during any season of the year.

Contact us for information
on our guide services.


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