The Scenic Arcadia Valley

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Outdoor Adventure , outdoors , Black River , Arcadia , Ironton , Pilot Knob , Lesterville , State Parks and State Historic Sites , canoeing outfitters , Canoeing and Floating Facilities
The Arcadia Valley is an excellent camping destination along the Black River. Not a camper? The Valley has great bed and breakfast inns. Stay a day, a weekend ... longer.
Author: Scott McCullough

Arcadia Valley – The Perfect Camping Destination

The area known as the Arcadia Valley, 80 miles south of St. Louis, offers travelers some of the most scenic and diverse landscape in Missouri for a relaxing getaway. You'll find spring-fed rivers rushing through lush valleys; mountain trails through the wilderness; outcroppings of granite 1.5 billion year old; historic Civil War sites; bustling campgrounds; and peaceful bed and breakfast inns. The Arcadia Valley is a great area for a day trip, a relaxing weekend and a summer vacation.

A Camping Trip to Arcadia – Endless Possibilities

There is plenty to do in Arcadia Valley. Set aside some time for a camping trip and an adventure down the Black River. Below are just some of the many great places to visit and things to do in Arcadia Valley.

The Black River: Setting the Backdrop of Arcadia Valley

The Black River is a glistening jewel of a stream; one of the Ozark’s clearest rivers. Outfitters shuttle you to a spot on the river and send you on a leisurely float back to your vehicle. Bearcat Getaway Campgrounds, in Lesterville, has canoes, tubes, rafts and all the supplies you’ll need; plus they have campsites, a store and live entertainment (most spring-summer weekends).  There are many canoe outfitters serving the area; check the Missouri Canoe and Floaters Association for information on every floatable stream and outfitter in the state.


Visit a State Park in the Arcadia Valley

  • Giant, billion-year-old granite boulders stand end-to-end like a string of circus elephants at Elephant Rocks State Park, 10 minutes north of Ironton. In the 1800s, miners carved their names into these massive rocks. The park has a self-guided trail that winds through the boulders and past long abandoned mining operations – it includes Braille signage. 
  • Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, 15 minutes north of Lesterville, is a very popular for swimming, camping and hiking. The “Shut-Ins” were formed over millions of years, by the cascading waters of the Black River. There are equestrian camping areas and horseback trails within the park.
  • At Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, a trail leads from Missouri’s highest point (1,772 feet above sea level) to Mina Sauk Falls, the state’s tallest wet-weather waterfall; it is spectacular after a rain. The views are awesome all the time.
Your Camping Trip Home Base in Arcadia
  • Wilderness Lodge, a rustic resort on the Black River, can be your base camp for floating and day trips to regional attractions. 
  • Koinania Valley Ranch (coin-uh-nee-uh) is a great spot for groups. Fully equipped cabins sleep four, nine, 11 and 12; rent the entire facility and take a crowd. Hike and explore; fish the small private stocked lake; enjoy the private riverfront; canoe the Black River; go horseback riding. This is truly a place where you can stay a day or a week.
Historic Sites in the Arcadia Valley

In addition to the beauty and camping spots, Arcadia Valley is an important area in Missouri history. Make sure to check in at these historic sites in Arcadia.
  • The Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pilot Knob, was built in 1862. It was used as a Union hospital during the Battle of Pilot Knob. It contains the original pews and bell.
  • Fort Davidson State Historic Site in Pilot Knob, preserves the site of the 1864 Battle of Pilot Knob, a major Civil War battle. A visitor center is located next to the remnants of the earthen fort.
  • The Iron County Courthouse in Ironton was built in 1861; it was the prize during the Battle of Pilot Knob. The courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Victorian gazebo on the front lawn is a good place to just sit a spell.
  • In a restored 1941 railroad depot, the Iron County History Museum contains an extensive collection of artifacts and photos.
Antiquing & Bed and Breakfast Inns

Not up for roughing it on a camping trip? Not a problem; the Arcadia Valley is full of bed and breakfast inns and antiques and collectibles are plentiful in the Arcadia Valley; you don’t have to look far to find a treasure in Pilot Knob, Ironton and Lesterville. For example, Bert’s Corner in Ironton features antiques and handcrafted Missouri furniture.Great Food in the Arcadia Valley

Here's just one outstanding example.
Baylee Jo’s BBQ & Seafood Grill in Ironton, has a black bear skin and a moose head on the wall. The secret to their fantastic barbecue is the cherry wood used in the smoker. All meats are slow smoked and served with sides made in-house. This is a true example of down-home barbecue. A favorite: all-you-care-to-eat shrimp on Friday evenings.

Whether you are planning a camping trip, exploring the Black River or are relaxing at one of the many bed and breakfast inns in the Arcadia Valley area, there is something for everyone. You are sure to have a great time.


At the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area, east of Ironton, the St. Francis River has cut a rugged swath through the pink granite boulders of this lovely valley. The swirling waters are a playground for kayaks, canoes and swimming.


There is a lot more to see, do and experience in Missouri’s Arcadia Valley; it will surely require repeat visits. For a interesting look at the area, read this Road Trips article.

Missouri . . . Enjoy the show.

 Elephant Rocks State Park
At this park, giant, billion-year-old granite boulders stand end-to-end, like a train of red circus ...

 Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park
Carved into the rock by the flow if the Black River, the shut-ins are a great place for swimming and ...

 Battle of Piltot Knob State Historic Site
The Civil War Battle of Pilot Knob was fought here when Confederate troops attacked the earthen fort ...

 Bearcat Getaway Campgrounds
Camping, floating, and live entertainment are offered along a half-mile of riverfront on the Black River. ...

 Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge Resort in Lesterville, Missouri features lush expanses of rolling green hills, squiggly ...

 Bert's Corner Home Accents
Today mingling with yesterday's style of decorating and furnishings. Buy a gift or treat yourself to ...

 Taum Sauk Mountain State Park
At an elevation of 1,772 feet, this is the highest point in Missouri. The state's highest wet-weather ...

 Nostalgic Place Bed and Breakfast
This 1889 bed and breakfast houses three guestrooms with private baths; custom dining. A full breakfast ...

 Plain and Fancy Bed and Breakfast
This 1908 farmhouse has four guestrooms. Features include: a hot tub overlooking Stouts Creek; a gazebo; ...

 The Parlor Bed and Breakfast
Restored circa 1901 home.Three guestrooms, private bath with two-person jetted tubs. Wraparound porch ...

 Millstream Gardens Conservation Area
Millstream Gardens Conservation Area is a 697-acre tract of land in Madison County, about halfway between ...

 Iron County History Museum
The museum is housed in the restored 1941 Ironton-Arcadia Depot. It contains an extensive collection ...

 Koinania Valley Ranch
Koinania offers these lodging options: Cottage: three-bedroom, two-bath (sleeps 11) Ranch House West ...