For a deep dive into the Ozarks, take a road trip down Highway 21. Along the way, you'll find breathtaking beauty, outdoor adventure and peek into Missouri's past.
Here's a sampling of places to explore – some located just off the highway, others a few miles away.
The largest group of petroglyphs ever found in Missouri date back to 1,000 AD provide clues about the Native Americans who once inhabited the region. Many years later, the African American company of the Civilian Conservation Corps built park structures, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, that are still used today. Rent a canoe or kayak to float down the Big River.
Wind your way around giant billion-year-old pink granite boulders that stand end-to-end like a train of circus elephants. A mile-long tree-lined trail takes you through one of Missouri's most impressive landscapes, formed by volcanic forces more than an eon ago, and scenic Ozark Mountain views.
Stop for lunch or a sweet treat in the tiny village of Caledonia, a national historic district that includes several restaurants and shops. The 1909 Old Village Mercantile offers homemade ice cream and more than 600 varieties of candy.
Explore the site of one of Missouri's largest and hard-fought Civil War battles. Learn more about the conflict through exhibits and presentations at the visitors center.
Take a dip in one of Missouri's most interesting "swimming holes," where the crystal-clear Black River has carved out pools and chutes in ancient volcanic rock, creating a natural "waterpark."
A short walk will take you to Missouri's highest point. If you're up for a rugged hike, a three-mile trail through lush forests and rocky glades leads to Mina Sauk Falls – Missouri's tallest waterfall. It's a wet-weather fall best visited after a rain.
Enjoy panoramic views while hiking through Precambrian outcrops that are among the oldest exposed rock in the United States. At the top, an expanse of rhyolite, created by ancient lava flows, is locally known as Devil's Honeycomb.