Shades is the smaller quieter cousin of Turkey Run State Park. Just 10 minutes down the road from Turkey Run, Shades boasts many of the same types of sandstone features as Turkey Run on a smaller scale but in a more natural, secluded location.
Shades used to be home to Native Americans, specifically offshoots of the Miami tribe. In the late 1820s settlers arrived after the area was ceded to the US government by the Miami's. Due to the poor soil and distinct land topography the area was not used for farming, maintaining its beautiful environment.
Many tales of Indian battles and ghostly creatures called "shades" haunting the area are legendary tales of the park. The title of "The Shades of Death" for these little ghostly shades gave the park its name. Since the park name "The Shades of Death" wasn't too positive, they changed it to "The Shades."
Government surveys in the early 1800s showed a series of natural springs. Before becoming a park the land was purchased by the Garland Dells Mineral Springs to be used as a health resort and recreation area called "The Shades." In 1887 they built a 40-room inn, and the land was preserved. Eventually, through a series of business transactions, in 1947 the business and land was purchased by a holding company and they held a public campaign called "Save the Shades." They raised enough funds, and the land became the 15th state park, saved from timber cutters who wanted to use the oak trees for whiskey barrels.
The park landscape is quite beautiful. Sugar Creek heads through the park, making canoeing an popular sport. Waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, streams, steep climbs and lots of trails. A constant evolution takes place at Shades due to the easy moldability of the sandstone rock found throughout the park along the river.
Flora and fauna
The area is considered one of the most prime bird-watch areas in Indiana, according to the Audubon Society. Oaks, western hemlocks, white pines and Canada yew follow Sugar Creek. A large selection of Warblers live in the area - Worm Eating, Black throated Green, Kentucky, Cerulean, and Magnolia's. The area is a migratory path for thrushes and veros. Bald eagles can even be seen in the area. Other animals that are common are white tailed deer, raccoons, grey squirrel, chipmunks, wild turkey, fox, coyote and other common Midwestern beasts.
Winters in the area are moderate, summers are slightly humid and fairly warm. Spring and fall are pleasant, and prime visitation times.
I 74 to Crawfordsville, Indiana take US 231 South 2 miles to State Rd 47. Turn right on State Rd 47 and go 8 miles to State Rd 234. Turn right on State Rd 234 and follow for 5 miles. The park entrance will be on your right.
The park has a small grass landing strip. Airport code 8I2. As of 2007 the airstrip is overgrown and closed. Closing is permanent per Park Rangers in August 2008.
Fees and permits
$5 per carload on weekends, $4 for weekdays. An annual entrance permit can be purchased for $36. Fees are marginally higher if you live out of state. Gate fees are waived during winter months.
By foot is your best bet to see all the natural wonders of the park.
There are plenty of natural spots to be seen, unique rock formations, countless ravines, waterfalls and look out points make Shades a geological wonderplace.
- Prospect Point which looks over Sugar Creek and Canoe Island.
- Inspirations Point on trail 1 that over looks the park from a nice sized cliff.
- Silver Cascades Fall on trail 1. One of the parks premier natural spots, the water mixing with the sandstone causes a silver hue to the stone.
- Devil's Punchbowl is a deep ravine that you can climb into. One of the most famous spots in the park.
When you arrive the ranger will provide you with a guide to the park, featuring information about the history, trails and safety throughout the area.
- Hike one of 11 trails that head through the park. From Easy to rugged, there are plenty of options. Trails range from .5 miles up to 2.5 miles.
- Canoe Sugar Creek. Rangers can provide information.
- Pinic or grill out at one of the many picnic areas. Grills are in some spots, and there are shelters and a playground.
The park has a small camp store near the landing strip and a truck usually drives around in the summer evenings with essentials like firewood and ice. There are several more stores along the roads especially closer to Turkey Run. The small town of Waveland (take 800W 2 miles South to State Road 47) has several. However Crawfordsville is the nearest big town and has many big box stores.
Nearby Crawfordsville offers plenty of dining options - from fast food to sit-down, even ice cream.
- Susie's Kitchen, 205 Cross St, ☏ . Waveland.
- A Country A-Fair, 7775 W State Rd, ☏ . 32 Waynetown.
- Turkey Run Inn Restaurant, ☏ . About 15 minutes away from Shades at Turkey Run State Park.
There really is nothing by way of modern amenities in the immediate vicinity of the park. The seclusion is part of the charm.
- The park features 105 non-electric sites $10-16 per night depending on day of week and season. One modern bathhouse with showers. Very wooded with easy access to the trails. Separate backpack, canoe and youth camping areas.
- Clements Canoes Outdoor Center, 8295 W. SR 234, Waveland, ☏ . Offers primitive campsites overlooking Sugar Creek, cute cabins with electricity and screened in porches, and a chalet for rental.
- Lake Waveland, SR 47, ☏ . Offers modern and primitive campsites, canoeing, swimming, and fishing.
Backpacking to and around adjacent Pine Hills Nature Preserve on Trail 10 makes for a nice day hike. Be sure to check out Devil's Backbone.
- Don't feed the animals. The raccoons here are very camper-savvy. Put your food in your car if you want it to be around the following morning.
- Take out what you take in.
- Don't hike at night, and camp only in designated areas.
- Even though Shades is not a very "deep country" park, it's always good to let a friend or family member know you are going hiking, so they can get worried if anything happens to you!
- Use common sense. Any experienced park-lovers know what to do!