Does your definition of “adventure” combine athleticism and a love of the great outdoors? If that’s the case, then rock climbing in Missouri has your name written all over it.
Prepare to be wowed by the amazing formations at Elephant Rocks State Park, where the enormous boulders look like a line of – you guessed it – circus elephants. These rocks began forming more than 1.5 billion years ago; today, they represent one of Missouri’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Rock-climbing equipment isn’t allowed at Elephant Rocks (so leave the crampons and carabiners at home), but you are welcome to free-climb the granite formations and take in the views. Pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the many picnic areas and spend the day among these magnificent “elephants.”
Excellent climbing awaits you at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park, where a trip to the top is rewarded by a lovely view of the sparkling water. Other can’t-miss sights at this nearly 18,000-acre state park include the large oak-hickory forest and “Angels’ Showers,” a cluster of stalactites and waterfalls nestled within Ozark Caverns.
Climbers and hikers find a little slice of paradise at St. Francois State Park, where the serene Pike Run Hills offer a true opportunity to get away from it all. Outdoor enthusiasts looking to spend a night or two at St. Francois State Park are happy to learn there are more than 100 campsites, plus hot showers and modern laundry facilities.
In Boone County, Three Creeks Conservation Area has long been a favorite among hikers. The area offers an eight-mile hiking trail and a three-mile interpretive trail; both are flanked by beautiful views, including bluffs, streams and cedars.
Want a little natural history with your hike? Look no further than Mastodon State Historic Site. Paleontologists have discovered that people hunted the American mastodon in this very spot during the Ice Age. After your hike, be sure to visit the site’s museum to see fossils, artifacts and a replica of a mastodon skeleton.
History echoes throughout Graham Cave State Park. This massive shelter cave was inhabited 10,000 years ago. See the cave, along with nice views of the Loutre River, as you hike through the park.