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.

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.

Hooked: Opening day of trout season a long tradition

LEBANON – Rick Langdon and Ken Henry shared a bit of fisherman’s remorse with Gov. Jay Nixon on the opening day of trout season at Bennett Spring State Park.

“Been coming here since I was 14, and didn’t catch a fish for the first time ever,” said Langdon, who is 46 and from Conway, Mo. Henry also lamented being shut out.

“It’s been slow,” agreed the governor. “They’re out there, though.”

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Three trout parks. Streams stocked every night. Hope springs eternal.

7 Wonders of the Ozarks

THAYER, Mo. – Peering from an overlook into the chasm of Grand Gulf State Park, it is easy to see why the area is known as the “Little Grand Canyon of the Ozarks.”

Deeper than it is wide, the sheer rock walls drop some 130 feet, revealing the remnants of a collapsed cave. Part of the cave roof that didn’t tumble down some 10,000 years ago remains as a 250-foot-long natural bridge.

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Peering from an overlook into the chasm of Grand Gulf State Park, it is easy to see why the area is known as the “Little Grand Canyon of the Ozarks.”

Eagles soar above state parks

Getting to Confluence Point

Edward “Ted” and Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park is located at 1000 Riverlands Way in West Alton, St.  Charles County. Take Interstate 270 to Route 367 and head north, toward Alton, Ill. Route 367 becomes U.S. 67 and crosses the Missouri River. Just before the bridge over the Mississippi, take a right turn (there is a service station there) on Riverlands Way into the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

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A short walk through the trees ends at a paved path out onto a point of land where the Mississippi and Missouri meet.

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...


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