Ste. Genevieve to Van Buren

See Photo Location

From giant red rocks to sparkling streams, this trek through Southeast Missouri offers outdoor adventures, delicious eats and the colors of the season.


A. Elephant Rocks State Park

Just off Highway 21, billion-year-old red granite boulders stand end to end, like a line of circus elephants. Wind your way through these geological wonders on a self-guided trail.

B. Taum Sauk Mountain State Park

As the highest point in Missouri, Taum Sauk Mountain boasts scenic views from its 1,772-foot summit. Explore Mina Sauk Falls, a wet-weather waterfall, and backpack through the park’s wooded and rocky terrain on a network of trails, including a section of the Ozark Trail.

C. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Explore the shut-ins carved out by the flow of the Black River at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. A boardwalk and overlook provide spectacular views. You’ll also find a campground, cabins, hiking and equestrian trails, and a visitor center.

D. Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Making National Parks history, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is America's first congressionally designated national park for the preservation of a wild river system. Encompassing more than 80,000 acres, the area is home to two of America's clearest and most beautiful spring-fed rivers — the Current and the Jacks Fork — that flow through the pristine Ozark countryside. Floating, hiking, picnicking, camping and fishing are popular here. Did we mention there are more than 300 known caves and springs in the area? Big Spring is one of the largest springs in the U.S. and produces more than 278 million gallons of water each day. Soak up the scenery at Alley Spring, which sends 81 million gallons of water each day into the Jacks Fork River. Tour historic Alley Mill, built at the edge of the spring in 1894, to learn how water power was used to turn grain into flour. 

E. Hawn State Park

Located between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington, Hawn State Park is one of Missouri's most scenic and unspoiled landscapes. Set in eastern Ozark sandstone country, the park’s hiking trails, picnic sites and campground are surrounded by towering oak and pine trees and wild azaleas.

F. Pickle Springs Natural Area

At this 256-acre natural area, explore the two-mile Trail Through Time and interesting geological features like hoodoos and natural springs.

G. Echo Bluff State Park

Looking for rustic campsites? You got it. Searching for full-service camping? Check! Ready to relax in a gorgeous lodge? Score. No matter your preference, Echo Bluff State Park has your nights covered while you fill your days with hiking, fishing or just relaxing in the shadow of the park’s namesake, Echo Bluff. Try floating on a nearby river. Local outfitters can provide canoes, kayaks and rafts, as well as paddles and life jackets.

H. St. Joe State Park

Explore 2,000 acres filled with off-road vehicle, hiking and equestrian trails at St. Joe State Park. During pit stops, enjoy picnicking, fishing in the lake and the radio-controlled airplane field. The park’s campgrounds include equestrian campsites. Off-road riders must have a permit.

I. Current River State Park

Established on the grounds of a former corporate retreat for the Alton Box Board Co., Current River State Park offers hiking, picnicking and tours of some of the property’s historic structures. The buildings reflect the rustic architectural style used by the National Park Service in the early 20th century.

J. Missouri Highway 21

Starting in Affton and ending at the Arkansas state line, one could take Highway 21 almost all the way through the state, and enjoy the Jefferson County Scenic Byway as part of it.For information regarding activities surrounding Highway 21 in the Southeast region, contact the Ellington, MO Chamber of Commerce at 573-663-7997.


A. Coljac Artisan Cafe

Located in downtown Farmington, ColJac Artisan Café offers breakfast sandwiches, salads, pizza and a selection of grilled cheese sandwiches along with coffee, smoothies and other drink options.

B. Dairy Shack

A longtime community staple, the Dairy Shack in Eminence serves up some of the best burgers and ice cream around. Try a root beer float, sundae or banana split.

C. The Blue Heron Restaurant at the Landing

Best known for its four cuts of juicy, charbroiled steak, including Chef Bobby King’s Crab-Stuffed Filet, the Blue Heron Restaurant in Van Buren offers a full-service menu with a variety of specialties to enjoy after a day on the Current River.

D. Thee Abbey Kitchen Restaurant, Bakery and Creamery

“Made from scratch” is a common theme at Thee Abbey Kitchen in Arcadia. From their famous cinnamon rolls to their newest flavor of ice cream, the menu features dishes made with the finest and freshest ingredients.

E. Hotel Audubon, Grill and Bar

A Ste. Genevieve landmark since 1903, this storied hotel and restaurant is nestled in the heart of the historic district. The Hotel Audubon, Grill and Bar offers old world charm with modern amenities and a unique dining experience unlike any in the area.

F. Chaumette Vineyards and Winery

Enjoy the scenic hills surrounding Chaumette Vineyards & Winery while sipping their award-winning wine. Reserve a spot at the Grapevine Grill restaurant for farm-to-fork fare.


A. Rosecliff Lodge at the Landing

A three-story, 56-room lodge perched along the Current River. Sounds like a beautiful sight, right? It gets better. Each room has a balcony adorned with Adirondack chairs so you can relax and enjoy a view of the river.

B. Old Caledonian Bed & Breakfast

Housed in the Ruggles-Evans-Dent House, built in 1849, the Old Caledonian B&B is in the National Register of Historic Places and offers vintage luxury, outstanding vegan cuisine and a spa. After exploring Mark Twain National Forest, you can come back and relax in your room with a private bath, top-of-the-line linens and free Wi-Fi.

C. Main Street Inn

Originally built in 1882 as the Meyer Hotel, the Main Street Inn bed-and-breakfast has a long history in Missouri. One of the state’s finest B&B establishments, the inn features 10 rooms, each with a distinctive design, a private bath and eco-friendly toiletries — plus two rooms that are pet-friendly.


A. Old Village Mercantile

Step back in time at this authentic 1909 mercantile. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Old Village Mercantile has more than 600 varieties of old-fashioned candy, fudge, a coffee and smoothie bar, homemade ice cream, an antique gallery and gifts.

B. Missouri Mines State Historic Site

Back when Missouri’s Lead Belt produced nearly 80 percent of the nation’s mined lead, this milling complex was home to the St. Joe Minerals Corporation. Now you can explore the museum, featuring restored underground-mining equipment, exhibits on mining history and an impressive mineral display.

C. Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site

When Confederate troops attacked the earthen fort in September 1864, the Civil War Battle of Pilot Knob began. The battle ended with the defeat of the Confederate forces, and the fort is preserved at the site. The visitor center guides you through the story with exhibits and a video.

D. Charleville Brewery & Winery

With some of the best views in Ste. Genevieve County, Charleville Vineyard and Microbrewery offers an off-the-beaten path, rustic-country setting to enjoy a picnic in the sun. A refurbished 1860s log cabin houses a bed-and-breakfast on-site.

E. Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary

This big-cat rescue and educational facility located in Ste. Genevieve provides lifelong sanctuary to abused, neglected or unwanted wild cats. Take a variety of tours and learn about the stories of their rescue tigers — Gracie, Izzy and Thor.