Carve Out Paths to Adventure in Missouri

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Article Tags:

Family Fun , museums , outdoors , theme park
From road trips to scenic trails, enjoy a leisurely ride in Missouri
Author: Stephen Foutes
Trees drenched in shades of red, orange and yellow are a sure sign, and favorite annual occurrence, of autumn in Missouri. And with so much natural beauty and so many fun sights to see, the Show-Me State is an ideal place for fall leaf-peeping and a fun-filled fall drive.

Of course, there’s a lot of ground to cover in Missouri, so picking a route might be the most difficult part of your excursion.


One of the first things to do when planning your fall outing is to consult the
Missouri Department of Conservation’s fall color tracker to get the latest updates on foliage, to ensure your path is as colorful as possible.

As for the routes themselves, well …


• Consider Missouri’s Highway 79, a north-south road that parallels the Mississippi River in northeast Missouri. Highway 79 offers great views of
Hannibal (author Mark Twain’s home town) from a spot called Lover’s Leap, a huge bluff just outside the downtown area. Traveling south on 79, you pass through small towns such as Louisiana and Clarksville, both of which offer excellent river views, along with shopping and dining spots, before hitting the St. Louis metro area. Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll the brick-lined streets of St. Charles and see another river, the Missouri, in the downtown area.

• Another beautiful fall drive is Highway 19 in southeast Missouri. Pick up Highway 19 at
Cuba, then drive south along the route for as long as your heart pleases – or until you hit the Missouri border near Thayer. Along the way, the route passes through several cities and has off-shoot roads as it meanders through the Missouri Ozarks. Montauk State Park is a popular destination in this area, offering trout fishing (the season runs March 1-Oct. 31), camping and hiking. Fall is a peaceful time to enjoy a canoe trip on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which includes the Current and Jacks Fork rivers and several springs.

• If you’d prefer peddle power to horse power, grab your bike and gear up for an outing on Missouri’s Katy Trail, the longest developed rails-to-trails project in the U.S. The flat, crushed limestone surface is designed for foot and bicycle traffic and a few sections also are open to horseback riding. If you don’t want to traverse the full 240 miles of the trail, hop on at the Jefferson City trailhead (after visiting Missouri’s Capitol, of course) in central Missouri and head west. You’ll get to see Rocheport, a village noted for its shops and wildly popular winery; Sedalia, the site of the annual Missouri State Fair; and Clinton, which is positioned on the western edge of Truman Lake.


• In northwest Missouri, a stretch of Highway 36 takes offers a fantastic look at innovations and innovators. People like Walt Disney and J.C. Penney once called the area home and you can learn about their lives at museums in Marceline and Hamilton, respectively. Innovation was big in Chillicothe, where sliced bread was first sold, and in St. Joseph, where the Pony Express began. Oh, and quilters won’t want to miss the Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, a small company that has a significant following.


• If you enjoy scenic drives marked by large hills and scenic vistas, don’t miss the chance to drive through the Ozark Hills on Highway 65 from Springfield to the south of Branson in southwest Missouri. Sights to see along the way include the new Route 66 Car Museum in Springfield (the birthplace of the ultimate road trip adventure and Route 66), Smallin Civil War Cave in Ozark, the National Tiger Sanctuary in Saddlebrooke and Silver Dollar City in Branson.


These are just a few of the excellent driving routes you find in Missouri. Keep exploring VisitMO.com to find out more about the adventures waiting for you in the Show-Me State.



  Montauk State Park
The seven springs within Montauk State Park form the headwaters of the Current River. Regular stocking ...

  Ozark National Scenic Riverways - National Park Service
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is America’s first congressionally designated national park ...

  Katy Trail State Park - Statewide
Katy Trail State Park is the longest rails-to-trails conversion in the U.S. The flat, 240-mile trail ...

  Les Bourgeois Winery A-Frame
Known for its spectacular view of the Missouri River valley, this terraced, bluff-top wine garden is ...

  Les Bourgeois Winery and Tasting Room
The Les Bourgeois Tasting Room offers a unique combination of rural quaintness and accessibility. Located ...

  Les Bourgeois Winery's Blufftop Bistro Restaurant
Enjoy spectacular, bluff-top views no matter what the season. The Bistro offers a full menu of provincial ...

  Missouri State Capitol
The Capitol, completed in 1918, covers three acres in downtown Jefferson City. The dome rises 238 feet ...

  Harry S. Truman Reservoir
This 55,600-plus acre lake offers 958 miles of coast line and has created a diverse wildlife area rich ...

  Walt Disney Dreaming Tree and Barn
Located on the Disney Farm, this is the tree where Walt first began to draw. The barn is where he put ...

  Walt Disney Hometown Museum
Housing 3,000 artifacts received directly from Disney family members, the museum affords visitors a ...

  Pony Express National Museum
On April 3, 1860, a lone rider, the first of his kind, left Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph, marking ...

  Missouri Star Quilt Co.
The Missouri Star Quilt Company carries a large selection of pre-cut quilting fabrics. YouTube sensation ...

  Route 66 Car Museum
The 20,000-square-foot museum located on historic Route 66 houses a unique collection of autos from ...

  National Tiger Sanctuary
National Tiger Sanctuary is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to environmental education and caring ...

  Smallin Civil War Cave
Smallin Cave was the first documented cave in the Ozarks. The cave entrance is 55-feet tall and 100-feet ...

  Silver Dollar City
An 1880s-themed amusement park, where the adventure of the past is combined with the high-tech thrills ...