Southeast Indiana Birding Opportunities - Clifty Falls State Park

Clifty Falls became Indiana’s third state park in 1920. Covering just over 1500 acres, Clifty Falls is mostly known for its sheer cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and Ordovician fossils, but it is also a great place to view a wide variety of birds.

cliffy falls state park along the Indiana Birding Trail
Clifty Canyon Nature Preserve within the park contains mesic forests on the lower slopes and ravine bottoms, and dry oak-hickory forests on the upper slopes and ridgetops. The majority of the park’s trails are within the nature preserve and range from moderately rugged to very rugged. Trail 8 is one of the best trails for bird viewing. Nesting species like the Louisiana Waterthrush, Great Crested Flycatcher, and both Scarlet and Summer Tanagers can be seen. During the winter Golden-crowned Kinglets, Pine Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches are occasionally spotted. Year-round, both Black and Turkey Vultures are frequently seen flying over the canyon, along with the occasional Bald Eagle.

Trails 9 & 10 are on much flatter land that was once farmed by the Madison State Hospital until 1965, when they donated it to the park. Trails 9 & 10 travel through younger forest with a very dense undergrowth of shrubs. During the summer, songs of the White-Eyed Vireo, Prairie Warbler, and Indigo Bunting fill the air, and the occasional American Woodcock can be seen strutting across the trail. Year-round, Red-shouldered hawks, Wild Turkey, Brown Thrashers, and Eastern Towhees are common.

The year-round nature center has feeders that attract a variety of woodpeckers, finches, sparrows, and more. Occasionally a Peregrine Falcon can be spotted from the back lawn of the Clifty Inn.

eBird Hotspot Link:

Total Birding Time:
1-8 Hours

Best Times to Bird: 
The park can be birded year-round although May through August is the peak of songbird activity.


2221 Clifty Drive
Madison, IN 47250
From the North: take US 421 S. to SR 62 W, the entrance is approximately 4 miles from the intersection of US 421 and SR 62. From the South: take US 421 N to SR 62 W. Continue west for about 4 miles to park entrance.
Hours: 7am-11pm; birders are generally welcome earlier if requested.
Ownership: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks
Admission: Indiana State Park entrance fees apply. $7/vehicle for Indiana residents, $9/vehicle for non-Indiana residents.
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. A summary of property rules can be found at
Parking: Parking is available at trailheads, the nature center, Clifty Inn and Big Clifty Falls.
Nearby Amenities: Vault toilets are available. Modern restrooms are available in multiple locations, but some may be closed in the winter. Restrooms are available 24/7 at the Clifty Inn. The campground has both electric and non-electric campsites. Visit the nature center for more information and visit the Clifty Inn for a delicious meal or to browse the gift shop. Nearby lodging can also be found in Madison, within 5-10 minutes of the park.
Accessibility: A short section of Trail 7 is ADA accessible to the Clifty Falls overlook.
Phone Number: (812) 273-0609

Written by: Kayla Leach
Photo by:
Shari McCollough