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Whether you prefer the warm, sunny days of spring and summer or the cool, crisp temperatures of fall and winter, Missouri’s parks and natural areas are open for adventure year-round. From one of the country’s largest city parks to dozens of state parks, conservation areas, national forests and wildlife refuges, there’s plenty of room to explore in the Show-Me State.
Hiking trails and a paved hiking and cycling trail traverse Weston Bend State Park, a short drive from the town of Weston. The park features a handicapped accessible scenic overlook that offers the most expansive view of the Missouri River in the state. Because the park is located along a forested river corridor, it’s an excellent birding spot, especially during spring and fall migrations.
Covering more than 7,000 acres, the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge is a resting, feeding and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The refuge, located near Mound City, is home to 301 bird species (including nesting bald eagles), 33 mammal species, and 35 reptile and amphibian species. During spring and fall migrations, the wetlands attract as many as 400,000 snow geese and 100,000 ducks. During the fall and winter, more than 400 bald eagles have been spotted.
Located four miles west of Trenton, Crowder State Park is located in the rolling green hills of northern Missouri. The park features camping, hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails, an organized group camp, picnic sites and shelters, and a lake for fishing.
With 1,371 acres to explore, Forest Park in St. Louis is one of the largest urban parks in the United States – approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. Forest Park is home to the Saint Louis Art Museum; the Science Center; the world-famous Saint Louis Zoo; the Jewel Box greenhouse; the Missouri History Museum; The Muny open-air theatre; biking, jogging and skating paths; an ice-skating rink; a golf course; lakes; and other activities.
Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and mountain biking, at Thousand Hills State Park, located near Kirksville. The area is home to large populations of deer that you might see while out exploring. During the warmer months, take advantage of Forest Lake. It has a swimming beach and a marina that offers boat, kayak and canoe rentals.
Scenic views from limestone bluffs and woodlands await at Mark Twain State Park, near Florida, Missouri. Located on Mark Twain Lake, the park features campsites, camper cabins, an organized group camp, fishing, a boat ramp, hiking trails, a beach, and picnic areas and shelters. Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site is located in the park.
Off-road vehicle (ORV) riders can zoom across 2,000 acres of trails at St. Joe State Park, near Park Hills. In addition to one of the largest ORV areas in the Midwest, the park offers camping; equestrian camping; lakes for fishing and swimming; picnicking; hiking, equestrian and bicycle trails, and a radio-controlled airplane field.
Missouri's largest state park, Lake of the Ozarks State Park has 89 miles of shoreline, two swimming beaches, boat-launching areas, marinas, campgrounds, camper cabins and two yurts. You’ll also find hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails; tours of Ozark Caverns; trail rides; and organized group camps at the park, located near Osage Beach.
Storyboards along a one-mile paved path at the Trail of Tears Memorial & Interpretive Walking Trail near Waynesville recount the journey of the Cherokee Nation during 1838-1839. Laughlin Park offers trout fishing in the Roubidoux River (Missouri fishing license required); an underwater cave open for scuba diving (permission from the sheriff's department required); and a picnic area.
Find fascinating geologic formations at Rock Bridge State Memorial Park, five miles south of Columbia. A boardwalk and several trails travel past numerous sinkholes and springs to a natural rock bridge at the 2,272-acre day-use park. The park has trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. You can also explore Conner’s Cave. Picnic sites are available throughout the park.