Rocky Creek Conservation Area
Rebecca Maples and Gary Gognat with Missouri Conservationist Magazine
VisitMO editor's note: This article reprinted with permission of Missouri Conservationist Magazine; to see original content, please click here.
You can’t find a more comprehensive example of Missouri’s diverse Ozark landscape than Rocky Creek Conservation Area (CA). Encompassing more than 38,000 acres, this Shannon County conservation area features woodlands, forests, and limestone glades, characterized by caves, fissures, and underground streams.
The area’s many streams, including its namesake, Rocky Creek, wind through woods containing black, scarlet and white oak, hickory and shortleaf pine. Rocky Creek CA contains two designated natural areas (NA)s, Mill Mountain NA and Powder Mill Cave NA, and two named glades, Open Hollow and Big Branch. The area’s several igneous mountain glade woodland complexes include Barnett, Vance, Buttin Rock, and Peter Mooney mountains. These are some of the earth’s oldest rock formations and are billions of years old.
The area encompasses a 9-mile portion of Missouri’s Ozark Trail, as well as endless hiking opportunities on forest roads and interior trails throughout the area. Hikers can camp along trails or at Blue Springs Fields Camping Area. No camping amenities are provided. The area also provides access to the Current River for canoeing, boating, swimming, and fishing.
Rocky Creek CA is home to many forest bird species as well as seasonal neotropical migrants, which are best viewed from interior forest trails. Fishing for bass, goggle-eye, and suckers is available at the Current River and the nearby Jacks Fork River. Hunting for deer, dove, quail, turkey, and other small game is also an option. Dove and quail populations are limited but on the rise due to natural-community restoration projects including sunflower and millet food plots.
Rocky Creek CA is managed especially for habitat diversity in its forests, woodlands, and glades. The goal of the area’s management is to provide a wide range of wildlife habitats that provide for the needs of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and others. Fire-dependent natural communities are being restored using methods such as prescribed fire and commercial timber harvests. Even-aged and uneven-aged management are both used as treatment options, while other areas are left for old growth habitat. Rocky Creek CA offers a 5-mile driving tour for visitors to learn about these projects firsthand.
Tracts of Rocky Creek CA can be accessed from Highway 19 and Highway 106.