Places We Protect

Fern Cliff


Fern Cliff
Fern Cliff Nature Preserve Located in Putnam County, Indiana. © Ron Leonetti

Fern Cliff and its sandstone cliffs have long been a popular Indiana refuge.



Why You Should Visit

Fern Cliff in Putnam County was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1980 and dedicated in parts as a State Nature Preserve in 1988 and 1996. Steep, forested sandstone cliffs, lush wooded ravines, and a profusion of ferns and bryophytes characterize this popular preserve. Its unique vegetation makes the preserve a botanists’ floral paradise.

What The Nature Conservancy is Doing/has Done

The Nature Conservancy staff, along with our devoted volunteer stewards, work to stem the invasion of autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), an exotic species threatening to crowd out native plant species.

This work is done in partnership with the Indiana Department of Nature Preserves, Indiana Heritage Trust, and the Joe. C. Emerson Memorial Fund.




Open year-round from dawn to dusk.


157 acres

Explore our work in this region

What to See: Plants and Animals

Rare bryophytes and ferns that occur here have made this site exciting to botanists, both professional and amateur alike. Sphagnum moss is slowly filling an abandoned sandstone quarry in the northern part of the preserve, while other species of mosses and liverworts can be found on cliff walls and the forest floor. Mayapples, Jack-in-the-pulpit, blue phlox and yellow celandine poppy can also be found the woodland's understory.

The preserve is open for hiking—a trail does exist on the preserve—photography, and bird watching on its moderate to rugged terrain. Rock climbing and rappelling are not allowed. Please note that the preserve is gated to keep vehicles out. Simply walk around the gate.

Preserve Guidelines

Please review these preserve guidelines before visiting Fern Cliff. Thank you!