5 Can't Miss Missouri State Parks

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Lake of Ozarks State Park, Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

If you’re looking for what to do in Missouri, head over to one of their state parks. Missouri has 92 state parks, and its state park system has been ranked in the top four park systems several times. It’s safe to say they’re worth visiting. Here are 5 Missouri State Parks you don’t want to miss:

Lake of Ozarks State Park

    This Missouri State Park is pretty unique! It’s got an underdeveloped cove underneath one of Missouri’s largest city lakes, which are covered in stalactites and “Angel Shower” waterfalls. You can also get guided tours of the caves daily during the summer.

    The lake itself is quite large, with more than 80 miles of water. There’s plenty of boat ramps and boat rentals available. You can use these for fishing, skiing, and pontoons. There are also some swimming beaches. But if you prefer to stay on land, there are 17,000 acres in the wooded areas of the park.

    Castlewood State Park

      Castlewood State Park is one of the prettiest Illinois state parks. The Meramec Creek river is at the heart of it, which turns south, east, north, and east through the park. It’s a wide river that averages more than a half-mile wide. If you fish there, you’ll find bluegill, largemouth bass, and catfish.


      Scenic white limestone stands above the Meramec River. Lush nature surrounds the limestone and river. The forest has a variety of trees including white oak, northern red oak, and shagbark hickory. On any given day you can find hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders along the trail.

      Mastodon State Historic Site

        Paleontology lovers will be ecstatic to see the Mastodon State Historic Site. It contains a significant archaeological site called the Kimmswick Bone Bed. Scientists first found evidence here that showed humans coexisting with the American mastodon.

        Does that sound interesting to you? The historic site has a museum that shows the discovery of the site, as well as fossils and ancient artifacts. Kids and adults love the mastodon skeleton replica.

        This Missouri National Park also has three trails, and they all lead you to where bones and artifacts were discovered. If you plan on staying a while, there’s a playground, picnic sites, and a wildflower garden for local birds and butterflies. If you have young kids wondering what to do in Missouri, this is a great option.

        Echo Bluff State Park

          If you’re looking for a park with more modern amenities, the Echo Bluff State Park may be the place for you. It’s got a beautiful lodge, full of casual dining rooms and guest rooms. There are also separate full-service cabins by the lodge. If you prefer to camp, there are separate campsites that offer full-service as well.

          You can see the large Ozark stream right from the lodge. The stream flows into Sinking Creek, and guests can do water sports right on the creek. Guests can also enjoy mountain biking trails and hiking.

          Elephant Rocks State Park, Photo by RagainAdventures.com

          Elephant Rocks State Park

            Whether you are looking for a trail accessible by wheelchair or strollers, or you want to spend the afternoon climbing boulders, Elephant Rocks State Park has you covered. The park is names for the pink granite boulders that many claim resemble a train of circus elephants. 

            The main park trail is approximately one mile and is designed to be accessible for individuals with visual and physical disabilities. Additionally, there is a short extension of the trail that leads to the ruins of the old railroad engine house. Many enjoying climbing the boulders in the middle of the trail or near the picnic areas. 

            Be sure to check out our video about the Elephant Rocks State Park. 

            Missouri is a beautiful state full of scenic Missouri State Parks. Looking for more ideas of what to do while you are in Missouri? Check out 15 Best Places to Visit in Missouri for Your Bucket List by Midwest Explored. Looking for more great hikes in the Mid-West, check out Best Hiking in the Midwest US by Explorer Chick.  For more travel tips, visit our website.

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