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.

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

Parks for the birds?

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

Missouri parks can be noisy places in late spring and early summer, especially around daybreak.

Some of North America’s most colorful birds, and best singers, have returned from their winter homes south of the border and are marking territories and advertising for mates.

You’ll often hear them before you see them, and will need binoculars to spot them in the treetops and underbrush. But the thrill of the search can be rewarding.

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See where you can find our noisiest visitors

Spring Magic: Wildflowers in Missouri State Parks

 By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

 A little magic is happening in Missouri’s woods. The show will go on through much of April.

After a seemingly endless winter, the sun shining through the leafless trees is warming the forest floor, causing spring wildflowers to awaken. Like little jewels, they poke through the leaf litter and dot the drab landscape with bouquets of white, yellow, pink and blue.

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Mid-April is the beginning of Missouri's peak wildflower season. Come and see what Missouri's state parks have to offer.

Katy Trail opens to Machens

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

 

Already the nation’s longest rails-to-trails conversion, the Katy Trail just got longer.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which operates the trail as a state park, has completed a 12-mile extension on the east end that takes the trail from St. Charles to Machens.

Gov. Jay  Nixon and First Lady Georganne Nixon used a giant pair of scissors to snip a red ribbon Saturday (April 2) and officially open the section, which marks the last of the old railroad bed to be converted to a recreational trail.

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The nation's longest rails-to-trails project just got longer

Bridging a gap through history: Our covered bridges

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Missouri State Parks

A traveler on foot was three cents. A horse, mule or ox was nine. A one-horse wagon was 37 cents. And crossing faster than a walk brought a fine of a dollar.

The Burfordville Covered Bridge, in Cape Girardeau County in southeast Missouri, was a toll bridge. The oldest of Missouri’s four remaining covered bridges, the Burfordville bridge is part of the Bollinger Mill State Historic Site, which is named for the stately four-story, brick-and-stone mill that sits just downstream on the Whitewater River.

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Four covered bridges left in the state, all of them state historic sites.

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