Skip to main content

U.S. Forest Service

Eastern Region Viewing Area


Aureola flava. Aureola flava.

barrens liatris. Barrens liatris.

Liatris spicata. Liatris spicata.

Boone Creek Special Area

Forest: Hoosier National Forest

District: Tell City Ranger District

Description: The Boone Creek Special Area on the Hoosier National Forest contains several rare barrens communities in close association with adjacent dry forests. Beginning in mid-summer, these small openings explode with the color of brilliant wildflowers. Although the area does not have a developed trail system, visitors can view colorful wildflowers from the roadside on the north and southeast boundaries. A short hike along down the ridgelines with southern or western aspects brings visitors to the remnant barrens. Barrens openings occur on thin limestone or calcareous shale that results in an increased diversity of prairie forbs and warm season grasses. Stunted trees of post oak and blackjack oak typically dominate these areas. Because of the broad assortment of plants, these areas support many species of grassland insects, including many moths, butterflies, and skippers.

Viewing Information: Commonly seen barrens plants include blazing stars, rattlesnake master, white wild indigo, whorled rosinweed, slender bush-clover, hoary puccoon, foxgloves, downy phlox, plus grasses such as little bluestem, Indian grass, and big bluestem. Common mammals include white-tailed deer, turkey, and fox squirrels. Birds most often seen are northern cardinal, blue jay, red-eyed vireo, and summer tanager. Butterflies observed in barrens or the surrounding openings include giant, zebra, and tiger swallowtails. Other butterflies commonly seen are question mark, red admiral, and painted lady. Skipper species include sachem, hoary edge, fiery skipper, northern cloudy wing, and several duskywing species.

Safety First: Visitors can view many wildflowers along roadsides, but most barrens occur on steep ridgelines. If proceeding off the roadsides, please use caution on steep slopes and near rocky outcroppings. Beware of slippery rocks when crossing creeks. Always carry a snack, insect repellant, water and a light raincoat, and wear (comfortable) hiking boots when hiking.

Directions: The special area is about 20 miles NE of Tell City, Indiana, and about 2 miles west of Alton. From I-64, take the exit for IN Highway 66. Go south on IN 66 about 7 miles to the Onido Road. Proceed east about 1 ¼ miles to the northwestern corner of the special area. The special area lies to the south side of the Onido road. Boone Creek and the adjacent Mt. Pleasant Road bisect the area. Barrens communities occur primarily on the steep, rocky south to west facing aspects.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Hoosier National Forest, Tell City Ranger District. For more information, contact the Tell City Ranger District at (812) 547-7051 or the Forest Headquarters Office at (812) 275-5987.

Closest Town: Tell City, Indiana.