In 1985, Randy Johnston explored 25 West Side acres. Impressive rock formations, quiet ponds, and fish-filled lakes were hidden throughout the woods, He bought the property with his father, Clyde (now deceased). “Go buy it,” Clyde simply said.
The Johnston men, both contractors, had never purchased this much land. They weren’t avid campers either, but inspired by the landscape, the two thought the property would make a good place for Tri-Staters to hike, fish, camp, and relax without leaving the region. Five years after their purchase, they opened a small campground, christened Skull Mountain because a sandstone formation resembled a skull.
In 1995, Skull Mountain got a facelift: Randy and Clyde placed a pump at a natural spring to push water to the top of a 30-foot cliff. The pump is expensive to run, explains Randy, so it’s used intermittently. On each night between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the pump is activated from 7-10 p.m., and water tumbles from the sandstone rocks into a small pond below, creating a waterfall. The ominous name of Skull Mountain was changed to Rocky Falls Campground.
Surrounded by 45 campsites, Hildred and Lowell Thurman, the campground managers, have lived at Rocky Falls for 12 years. Lowell runs a tight ship, Randy says. He follows drivers going too fast and warns them to slow down. He demands visitors keep camping areas tidy. He points to RVs around the campground, identifying occupants by name, remembering pets and occupations. Some visitors park their RVs year-round while others have stayed for six years. It’s because, Lowell says, “this has got character.”
Located off Indiana Highway 62, Rocky Falls Campground straddles the county line of Vanderburgh and Posey. 11901 Deer Run, 812-746-7907, rockyfallsrvpark.com