One of Missouri’s main attributes is its vast, untouched natural beauty. In this great state you can find natural springs and waterfalls, ancient mountains, animal sanctuaries, beautiful caverns, and rolling hills each offering an unparalleled beauty throughout all four seasons.
St Francois State Park
BONNE TERRE, MISSOURI
The forested ridges and cool hollows of St. Francois State Park offer visitors a retreat from everyday life. Three hiking trails, including one that allows equestrian access, wind through the wooded hills and glades of the Coonville Creek Wild Area. Easy access to the Big River makes St. Francois State Park ideal for canoeing and floating and the many shaded picnic sites and two covered shelters make the park perfect for family gatherings. Overnight guests can choose from more than 100 campsites, in campgrounds with modern restrooms, hot showers and laundry facilities.
Elephant Rocks State Park
The elephant rocks, which were formed from 1.5 billion year old granite, are giant boulders that stand end-to-end like a train of circus elephants. The rocks have created formations that intrigue geologists, are popular with history buffs interested in the past quarrying, and fascinate children who love to climb on and between the boulders.
An easy way to see the rocks is from the Braille Trail, which was especially designed for people with visual and physical disabilities. The trail winds through the main area of rocks. An extension off the trail leads back to the ruins of an old railroad engine house, a remnant of the area’s quarrying and railroad history.
Picnic tables are scattered among the trees and provide inviting spots to have a picnic lunch or rest and enjoy the interesting geologic formations found throughout the park.
Willard Sunflower Field
Looking for a unique destination? Explore endless rows of sunflowers at a quaint farm near Springfield Missouri!
Enjoy the beautiful surroundings on your way to find this bright sunny, yellow field of sunflowers. Don’t delay this trip, sunflower season is typically short lived, and only lasts a couple weeks!
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
WALNUT SHADE, MISSOURI
Dogwood Canyon Nature Preserve is a one-of-a-kind experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers of all ages. Covering 10,000 acres of pristine Ozark Mountain landscape, the park has miles of crystal-clear trout streams, dozens of cascading waterfalls, ancient burial caves, unique hand-built bridges, and bottomless, blue-green pools.
Image Courtesy of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Horseback riding at Dogwood Canyon Nature Preserve allows you to explore the Ozarks through the eyes of early settlers, discovering areas of the park not seen by the tram or from walking and biking trails. Located right along Little Indian Creek, the new Little Indian Stables has 24 stalls and gives guests the chance to meet the horses before setting out on their horseback adventure
Image Courtesy of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
The walls of the jagged ravines frame a dramatic valley bursting with hardwoods, evergreens and of course, the park’s namesake – Dogwoods, which are especially spectacular in the spring. The streams hold record trout, and the high meadows that reach into Arkansas provide pasture for small resident herds of long-horned cattle, American bison and elk.
Endangered Wolf Center
This unique sanctuary is dedicated to the preservation of wolves and other endangered canids through managed breeding; focused on the recovery and reintroduction of endangered species into their native habitat.
They offer a variety of tours, events, and special programs available on their website http://www.endangeredwolfcenter.org/
Hidden in the forest, this gorgeous lesser-known swimming hole is a perfect summer destination. It has a beautiful waterfall and many other utilities including a walking trail, bathrooms, picnic tables, and fire grills.
Lost Canyon Nature Trail and Cave
Hop aboard an electric cart for an exhilarating two-and-a-half mile nature trail journey, which overlooks Table Rock Lake.
Beginning at the Welcome Center, visitors are surrounded by the breathtaking natural beauty of the Ozarks. This beautiful trail provides a one-of-a-kind nature park experience, where you will drive through covered Amish bridges, marvel at dramatic natural rock formations and stunning waterfalls.
Onondaga Cave State Park
Descend into the depths of Onondaga Cave State Park and drop into a world of wonder: towering stalagmites, dripping stalactites, and active flowstones help make the cave a National Natural Landmark and illustrate why Missouri is often called “The Cave State.”
Visitors can take guided tours into the underground wonderland. But if you prefer the surface, the park’s Vilander Bluff Natural Area provides a panoramic view of the Meramec River. Easy access to the Meramec River allows visitors to canoe or fish in a peaceful and scenic setting.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park
MIDDLE BROOK, MISSOURI
Looking for a unique destination? Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park offers ancient beauty!
The wilderness qualities and geology of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park and the surrounding St. Francois Mountains make this park a special place to visit. Its rugged character provides the perfect backdrop for camping, hiking, picnicking, splashing in the shut-ins, exploring nature or just relaxing.
Bennet Springs State Parks
The valley that cradles Bennett Spring has created a place of peace and recreation that has welcomed generations of enthusiastic anglers. Bennett Spring State Park is one of Missouri’s earliest state parks and continues today to attract fishermen and nature lovers seeking to make new memories.
More than 100 million gallons of clear, cool water gush from Bennett Spring each day and form a spring branch stocked daily with rainbow trout waiting for lucky fishermen. Fishing may be the main draw but the park also offers many other amenities such as a dining lodge, campgrounds, cabins, and hiking trails.
Whether you are a traditional fishing enthusiast or someone seeking a place to relax and refresh, Bennett Spring State Park has what you need to make every trip one to remember.