The Falls of the Ohio is one of the most distinctive paddling locations in the United States. Within sight of downtown Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the premier high flow runs.
The Falls were originally a series of rapids formed by the exposure of a Devonian era coral reef which existed 350 million years ago. It is the world's largest exposed reef of this period. Today the McAlpine Locks and Dam control the river and expose the fossil bed along the Indiana shoreline. As water is released from the Upper Tainter Dam it flows over the exposed bed providing big water fun from (approximately) November till June. At higher water, the exploding waves appear, giving paddlers a quick, crazy ride from the dam down to the interpretive center.
The Falls of the Ohio is a National Wildlife Conservation Area. Please do not disturb any birds nesting or remove fossils. For more information see the Falls of the Ohio State Park website.
Take Exit 0 from I-65 and follow signs to the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center. No shuttle for this fun, the interpretive center is both the Put in and Takeout. Just walk down the stairs to the river. Note:The State park is now charging a fee to park, you may avoid the fee by parking upstream under the railroad bridge.
There is also a Lower Falls of the Ohio site 1 mile down stream that is accessed via the clark boat ramp.
Map and Description:Putting in at the Interpretive center, a long eddy allows paddlers to make their way to the gates. From there cross the very large eddy line and enjoy the waves below. Be careful as wood often collects along the eddy line. Swims can be very long at the Falls; at higher levels, swimmers may be in the water for over a mile before they can reach the Indiana shore.
At lower levels the fossil bed becomes exposed along the KY side and one can ferry across the 1600ft wide river section to access additional playspots.
Ran this on 5/19/12, 22ft was the gauge. It was very pushy and unpredictable waves from all directions. Fun, yes, but the currant was very strong today and if you are not careful you will go pretty far down river..I would suggest only experienced paddlers go here.
Call the Falls of the Ohio Dam at (502)775-5056 for the release information. Lower Pool Level, Feet of Dam being released, and gate configuration all determine what is in. For each foot of dam 1400cfs is being released. 53' of dam on the upper site equates to 74,200 cfs. The National Weather Service forecasts the river level, but is only accurate when no rain is expected in the near future the forecast can be found at: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ahps2/tabular.php?wfo=lmk;gage=mlpk2
A general rule:
Playable big water= 22 ft. of pool(lower) or less.
Big Wave Train= greater than 22 ft. of pool(lower)
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Jim Gunn Falls of the Ohio
Ben Surfin a Big Wave
Falls of the Ohio Map
Jim Gunn Kentucky Wave
Falls of the OHIO Panoramic
Surfing Right Wave : Falls of the Ohio
Upper Dam : Falls of the Ohio
falls of the ohio
Falls of the Ohio
falls of the Ohio
Falls of the Ohio, Second Wave
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