A nippy wintery world is something I haven’t experienced since 2009. At first, I wanted to join the the black bears in their hibernation dens, but now I have acclimated to the snow and the below freezing temperatures. Winter holds it’s own beauty. Glittery snow and ice create the most captivating artwork painted by mother nature. Exploring nature in its frozen state brings a whole new experience and awareness to flora and fauna, so go immerse yourself in the outside world.
On a work trip to Indiana, we took the opportunity to visit some hidden nature preserve jewels: Turkey Run State Park, Shades State Park, Portland Arch Nature Preserve and Fall Creek Gorge.
Tucked away in the glacial till plain between Lafayette and Terre Haute are several impressive gorges carved out by the regions many streams, which plunge into the scenic Wabash River. The region marks the edge of the formerly grandiose tall grass prairie of the Midwest and the eastern deciduous forest with extensive open oak savanna mixed in.
These gorges form oasis’s in a region dominated by industrial agriculture and contain a treasure trove of biodiversity. A few spots contain relics of northern species, such as eastern hemlock and white pine, which established during post glacial times and became disjunct as the climate warmed.
Likewise, songbirds such as blackburnians and green-throated warblers, more typical of the north woods, breed here alongside their southern relatives, like Louisiana waterthrush, worm-eating, cerulean, and Kentucky warblers. These isolated patches are also very important and attractive to migrant songbirds in need of stopover habitat. Also, Bald Eagles congregate here in the winter.
Turkey Run State Park’s most famous feature is Rocky Hollow Gorge, but first we had to slip down 70 ice clad steps into the floodplain and cross Sugar Creek.