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.

Deep roots: Holiday traditions thrive at state parks

The First Missouri State Capitol is one of four state historic sites that put old-time traditions back into the holiday season.

The seat of state government from 1821 to1826, restoration of the row of brick buildings in the 1960s was the catalyst that sparked the creation of the St. Charles historic district.

Today, the district has some 125 one-of-a-kind shops along brick-paved Main Street, offering enough unusual gifts to satisfy everyone on your list.

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The First Missouri State Capitol is one of four state historic...

Where to go back in time for the holidays

Here is a list of holiday events at the four state historic sites:

First Missouri State Capitol: A free open house will be held on Dec. 15, 19 and 22 with story telling, costumed interpreters and hot spiced cider. A candlelight Christmas concert in the legislative chambers on Dec. 18 is sold out.

Felix Valle: A French Christmas open house will be held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 with music, food and costumed guides. The traditional feast called reveillon will be re-created in the dining room.

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Here is a list of holiday events at four state historic sites

Fall's fallen, but it brings better views when hiking

STE. GENEVIEVE, Mo. – The pines really do whisper.

With the slightest breeze, hikers on the Whispering Pines Trail at Hawn State Park can hear the murmuring of the tall trees while walking on the path softened by fallen needles.

“We have one of the largest shortleaf pine stands in the state park system,” said Ed Schott, park superintendent for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “That’s a big draw for a lot of people.”

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With the slightest breeze, hikers on the Whispering Pines Trail at Hawn State Park can hear the murmuring of the tall trees while walking on the path.

Daily grind: Historic mills rockin’ and rollin’ at Missouri State Parks

Missouri is getting its two century-old, water-powered gristmills back into working shape.

A crew arrived at the Dillard Mill State Historic Site south of Steelville in late summer and finished repairs by mid-September. The workers will be heading next to the Bollinger Mill State Historic Site near Cape Girardeau.

Although open for visitors, the two mills had been idle for several years while awaiting repairs.

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Missouri is getting its two century-old, water-powered gristmills back into working shape.

Young blood energizes State Parks

Of the hundreds of green-shirted State Parks Youth Corps workers at Missouri’s parks and historic sites this summer, Jamie Myers had the coolest job.

Myers worked as a guide at Onondaga Cave State Park, taking visitors on tours of one of America’s most spectacular caves. In the sultry heat of summer, the cave was a comfortable 57 degrees.

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Of the hundreds of green-shirted State Parks Youth Corps workers at Missouri’s parks and historic sites this summer, Jamie Myers had the coolest job.

Morris State Park: A ridge above

CAMPBELL, Mo. – At 161 acres, Morris State Park is among Missouri’s smallest state parks. But it represents a much larger geologic phenomenon known as Crowley’s Ridge.

The ridge runs for some 150 miles along the Mississippi River floodplain of southeast Missouri into northern Arkansas. Its wooded hills rise up to 250 feet above the surrounding fields of cotton, corn, rice and soybeans.

The ridge itself produces a bounty of fruit, earning Campbell the title of “Peach Capital of Missouri.”

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Morris State Park is among Missouri’s smallest state parks. But it represents a much larger geologic phenomenon known as Crowley’s Ridge.

More to Lake of the Ozarks than just the lake

KAISER, Mo. – Mention Lake of the Ozarks State Park and most people think of water. But they’re leaving out a whole lot of land.

“Something like17,600 acres – we’re the largest state park in Missouri,” said Cindy Hall, a naturalist with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “We’re also one of the busiest; we have over a million visitors a year.”

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Mention Lake of the Ozarks State Park and most people think of water. But they’re leaving out a whole lot of land.

Wag the tail of the dog days

By Tom Uhlenbrock

What’s a matter, Bunky? Heat and humidity got you down? Feel like a flower wilting in the sun? Already dreaming of a white Christmas?

Missouri offers several sure-fire ways to beat the dog days of summer. Here are a few tried-and-true favorites.

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Missouri offers several sure-fire ways to beat the dog days of summer. Here are a few tried-and-true favorites.

Bats make themselves at home in Missouri’s state parks

LEASBURG, Mo. – You don’t have to go far to find bats at Onondaga Cave State Park.

Just inside the interior glass doors that lead into one of America’s most spectacular caves, a dozen or so tiny balls of dark fur clustered together on the ceiling a few feet above visitors’ heads.

“Those are little brown bats and eastern pipstrelles, which are also called tri-colored,” said Tara Flynn, a naturalist with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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You don’t have to go far to find bats at Onondaga Cave State Park.

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