There’s something irresistible about a waterfall. The sight and sound of water flowing over rocks – in a powerful rush or delicate trickle – have a way of drawing you in.
Most of Missouri’s waterfalls are located deep in the Ozarks. Along with waterfalls, you’ll find shut-ins – chutes and pools created by fast-moving streams flowing around dense volcanic rock. These natural water features add another layer of beauty to the area’s lush landscape.
Wet Weather Falls
Many of the waterfalls in the Show-Me State are wet-weather falls. Visit in the spring, after a rain, for the best view.
Mina Sauk Falls, located near Ironton, is the state’s tallest waterfall, cascading 132 feet over a series of ledges into Taum Sauk Creek. The falls are located at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, home to the highest point in Missouri – 1,772 feet above sea level. The Mina Sauk Trail, a rugged and rocky 3-mile loop trail, takes you to the edge of the falls.
Spring rains turn the impressive box canyon at Hickory Canyons Natural Area near Farmington into beautiful falls. Follow a half-mile out-and-back trail to the canyon’s steep-walled bluffs.
Explore along a nearly 3-mile loop trail at the LaBarque Creek Conservation Area south of Pacific to see waterfalls spill over and through sandstone rock formations after a rain. At nearby Don Robinson State Park take the park’s Sandstone Canyon Trail, a 3.9-mile loop, to catch waterfall views at several spots.
Grand Falls in Joplin is the state’s largest continuously flowing waterfall. Located on Shoal Creek, the falls plunge 12 feet over a 163-foot-wide solid chert ledge before crashing into the jagged crags below. The falls are located just a few miles downstream from Wild Cat Park.
Falling Spring pours out of the side of a rock bluff, forming a small waterfall in the Mark Twain National Forest. Located south of Winona, the spring once powered two mills that were used to produce electricity and grind corn. One of the mills still sits near the spring.
Rocky Falls is actually a section of shut-ins in Rocky Creek. A deep pool at the bottom of the “falls” forms a large “swimming hole.” A challenging 7-mile out-and-back trail will take you to more shut-ins and the Klepzig Mill. You can also reach the mill via a narrow dirt road. The area, part of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways, is located near Eminence.
The state’s most famous shut-ins have earned a reputation as Mother Nature’s water park. The centerpiece of one of Missouri’s popular state parks, Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a favorite swimming spot in the summer. Views of the shut-ins, located on the Black River near Lesterville, are breathtaking any time of year.
The St. Francis River rushes through the shut-ins at the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area near Arcadia. Every spring when the river runs high, the Tiemann Shut-Ins are filled with kayaks and canoes competing in the Missouri Whitewater Championship. A 1.8 mile out-and-back trail leads to an observation deck overlooking the river.
The Castor River Shut-Ins are located on the Castor River near Fredericktown. Follow the Cedar Glade Trail, a 1-mile loop, to see Missouri’s only known pink granite shut-ins.