State Parks Stories

Missouri State Parks invites you to explore the world of nature our state has to offer. Read our stories and find a state park that's close to you.

Five fabulous fall drives

Hawn State Park has the reputation as being Missouri’s prettiest, especially in fall. Ed Schott can look out the window of his office and see why.
“There are lots of vibrant reds and yellows in the oaks and hickories, and we have one of the largest stands of shortleaf pines in the park system,” said Schott, who is the superintendent of the park in southeast Missouri.

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Drive through fall in our state parks

Prairie fire

by Tom Uhlenbrock
Missouri State Parks

The roadsides hinted at what the rolling landscape of northern Missouri looked like in autumn when the first pioneer wagons arrived in the early 1800s.

Goldenrod and yellow sunflowers, with an occasional touch of purple courtesy of the blazing stars and Joe Pye weed, provided patches of color amid the grasses. Beyond were fields of corn, soybeans and sorghum stretching into the horizon.

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Fall explodes at our northern parks

Five fabulous fall floats

By Tom Uhlenbrock
Missouri State Parks
 
Fall is the best time for a float trip in the Missouri Ozarks. Summer crowds are gone, and the sparkling streams reflect the autumn colors.
“It’s also the prettiest time of the year for wildflowers – you have all the yellow and red, even some purple blooms,” said Gene Maggard, president of the Missouri Canoe and Floaters Association.
Maggard, who owns Akers Ferry Canoe Rental on the Current River, said fall colors start showing in early October.

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Fall means quiet rivers and exceptional solitude

Bootheel parks rise from the waters

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

EAST PRAIRIE, Mo. – The welcome sign is back up at Big Oak Tree State Park in the far southeast corner of Missouri.

The sign was toppled in early May when the Army Corps of Engineers blew holes in a levee and let the overflowing Mississippi rush into the New Madrid Floodway. Big Oak Tree, and the nearby Towosahgy State Historic Site, are within the 130,000-acre floodway.

 Floodwaters reached 16 feet deep at the park’s visitor center.

Big Oak Tree was closed temporarily, but has re-opened.

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You just can't keep good parks down

In Price's footsteps: Battle of Lexington State Historic Site

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

 

The town of Lexington in northwest Missouri wears its Civil War battle scars proudly.

The stately Lafayette County Courthouse on the town square has an inscription pointing to where a cannonball is buried in a column, a relic of the Battle of Lexington fought in September of 1861.

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Lexington site commemorates 150th anniversary of battle

CCC Strong: Historic 1930s structures in our state parks

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

 DE SOTO, Mo. – Ancient Indian rock carvings are the highlight of Washington State Park. But a more recent form of stone artistry also is on display.

The stonemasons of the all-black Company 1743 of the Civilian Conservation Corps worked in the park between 1934 and 1939, leaving behind an impressive legacy of rustic stone architecture.

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The CCC legacy is carved in stone and timber at Missouri State Parks

Favorite places to camp

Several folks have asked what's the best place to camp. Here's some of our favorite campsites:

Pomme de Terre State Park, campsite #228 Hermitage Campground - Lakeside electric site that has shade and is a good distance from other campsites http://mostateparks.com/campsite/pomme-de-terre-state-park-campsite-h228

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Ahhhh! The perfect campsite

Come sail away

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

 STOCKTON, Mo. – Charles West bought his 37-foot sailboat in Florida and had it trucked halfway across the country to its new home on Stockton Lake.

West and his wife, Betty, are among the 300 or so regulars with sailboats at Stockton, a mecca for sailors amid the pastures and farm fields of southwest Missouri on the western edge of the Ozarks.

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Stockton State Park is beautiful and has a nationally recognized sailing school

Band of birders

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

LEASBURG, Mo. – After measuring, weighing and banding the tiny fluff of green feathers, Lanny Chambers had a special treat.

“Hold out your hand,” he said.

Chambers gently placed the female ruby-throated hummingbird upside down on the palm of my hand.

The bird blinked, and I could see it breathing. The buzz I felt was the beat of its heart, 20 times a second. But it didn’t budge, laying trance-like, feet up, watching me with its black eyes.

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It takes deft fingers to put little rings around tiny legs

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