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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.

Best way to beat the heat? Float.

SULLIVAN, Mo. – Living in Missouri and never floating its Ozark streams would be like being in Florida and ignoring its beaches, or spending a lifetime in Colorado and never hiking the Rockies.

Meramec State Park offers the perfect trip for a rookie to get his or her feet wet, and see what floating is all about. You leave your vehicle at the park, take a shuttle to the Sappington Bridge, and float five miles back.

“The river is easy and wide,” said Mike Fleming, the concessionaire at Meramec. “It’s a nice little float.”

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Living in Missouri and never floating its Ozark streams would be like being in Florida and ignoring its beaches, or spending a lifetime in Colorado an

10 tips for a great Missouri float trip

1.  The Black, Meramec, Courtois, Huzzah, Niangua, White, North Fork, Eleven Point, Elk, Current and Jacks Fork are among the Ozark streams perfect for float trips. The Missouri Canoe & Floaters Association lists outfitters for those and other rivers at  www.missouricanoe.org.  

2. Eight to 10 miles is a good length for a leisurely day on the river. With a stop for lunch on a gravel bar, an eight-mile float should take four to five hours.  

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1. The Black, Meramec, Courtois, Huzzah, Niangua, White, North Fork, Eleven Point, Elk, Current and Jacks Fork are among the Ozark streams perfect fo

10 scenic spots to float

The Prongs on the Jacks Fork: Considered by some to be Missouri’s prettiest float, this is the top of the river and usually a spring trip because it requires high water. Streaked bluffs decorate the eight miles down to the Buck Hollow access at Highway 17.  

Jacks Fork from Alley Spring to Eminence: A year-round float because the spring pumps 84 millions gallons of crystal clear, chilly water a day into the river. The ancient Alley Mill by the turquoise waters of the spring boil is one of the state’s most photogenic spots.  

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The Prongs on the Jacks Fork: Considered by some to be Missouri’s prettiest float, this is the top of the river and usually a spring trip because it r

Tiptoe through the ... orchids?

Orchids are Missouri’s best kept botanical secret.

Thirty-six species of orchids are found in Missouri, compared to just three native species in Hawaii.

While most of the 15,000 species of orchids in the world are found in the tropics, Missouri has orchids throughout the state, from its northern prairies and plains, to its Ozark woods and river valleys.

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Orchids are Missouri’s best kept botanical secret.

How a state park becomes one

[caption id="attachment_181" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Don Robinson, 82, watches visitors hike into Labarque Creek on land he'll donate to Missouri State Parks."][/caption] Missouri State Parks

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At 82, Don Robinson has finally slowed down. So he declined to join the hike down the steep, wooded hillside to explore what he called 'Green Gulch.'

Katy's 20!

MCKITTRICK ­– Picking a favorite section of the Katy Trail presents a pleasant problem.  With 225 miles of hiking and biking trail to choose from, where does someone start?

Here’s a vote for the 16.1 miles between McKittrick and Treloar, where much of the trail squeezes between the base of white limestone bluffs and the muddy Missouri River. In spring, Canada geese nesting on the rocky ledges crane their long necks to watch the riders below.

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Picking a favorite section of the Katy Trail presents a pleasant problem.

10 tips for riding the Katy

  1. Choose the right length. Twenty to 30 miles is a good day ride for a weekend cyclist. Forty to 50 is for regular riders. Anything over that is for hardcore bikers.
  2. The packed gravel of the Katy is fine for all bikes. A mountain bike is great, and the “hybrids” in which riders sit more upright on cushy seats are comfortable.
  3. A helmet is recommended whenever riding a bicycle. However, it is not required on the Katy.

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10 things to know about riding the Katy Trail

Katy pioneer remembers how trail was born

WILLIAMSBURG – The Katy Trail is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, but Pat Jones says the spark that inspired the recreational trail went back much further.

Pat and her late husband, Ted Jones, were early backers of the trail, donating $2.2 million to purchase the right-of-way from the railroad and to get the trail started. The first 5-mile section opened in April 1990, a few months before the death of Ted Jones, a brokerage executive.

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Pat and her late husband, Ted Jones, were early backers of the trail, donating $2.2 million to purchase the right-of-way from the railroad and to get

5 years later: Johnson's Shut-Ins

MIDDLEBROOK – A billion years of erosion sculpted the beauty that made Johnson’s Shut-Ins a popular state park. A manmade catastrophe altered the landscape in a matter of minutes.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 14, 2005, the AmerenUE Taum Sauk Reservoir, perched on the top of Profitt Mountain overlooking the park, breached, releasing 1.3 billion gallons of water that swept through the valley.

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A billion years of erosion sculpted the beauty that made Johnson’s Shut-Ins a popular state park. A manmade catastrophe altered the landscape in a mat

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