The Show-Me State boasts one of the finest state park systems in the nation, with countless miles of trails, hundreds of acres of shoreline, an abundance of wonders (natural and human-made), thousands of camping sites and unending family fun.
Admission to our 52 state parks is always free; however, a fee is charged for camping and some special activities. Reservations are highly recommended for RV and tent camp sites.
Approximately five miles from Laclede, visit Pershing State Park for a glimpse of Missouri before Europeans settled the land. Follow the hiking trail and boardwalk through a wetland prairie, along a stream and down into a bottomland forest. A vast variety of wildlife, including song birds and waterfowl, call the park home. Anglers test their skills in Locust Creek and in the park’s four lakes. Basic and electric campsites make Pershing State Park a great overnight destination.
Hear the rumble of adventure at Finger Lakes State Park, a reclaimed strip-mine area, 20 minutes north of Columbia. The park’s trails and motocross track provide exhilarating terrain for off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. The 2.75-mile Kelley Branch Trail is designed especially for mountain-bikers. There are seven strip-pits (the Finger Lakes) for swimming, canoeing and fishing. After a day of high-speed fun, relax at the large campground, beneath the canopy of trees.
Family fun abounds at Robertsville State Park on the north side of Robertsville. Bordered by the Meramec River and Calvey Creek, the park is a top location for boating and fishing. Hiking trails give visitors excellent views of bluffs, hardwood forests and peaceful clearings. A variety of water birds make it well worth taking your binoculars.
Unforgettable vistas greet you at Elephant Rocks State Park, four miles north of Pilot Knob. The enormous billion-year-old red granite rock formations are great fun for photos. Be sure to take a close peek at the names 19th century miners carved in the rocks by. Walking trails (with Braille signage) travel through the remains of long-abandoned mining locations. Settle down for a picnic at one of the park’s scenic picnic areas.
Twenty miles southeast of West Plains, Grand Gulf State Park is often called the Little Grand Canyon. The mile-long canyon, with walls reaching 130 feet high, was created when the ceiling of a giant cave collapsed more than 10,000 years ago. A remnant of the original cave forms a 250-foot natural bridge.
If water is your bag, Stockton State Park, 15 minutes south of Stockton, is the place for you. Among many other lake activities, this is one of the top (some say the best) sailboat venues in the Midwest – there is even an award-winning sailing school. The Stockton Marina rents slips, boats and personal water craft. Facilities include cabins, camping, trails and a beach.
Need a place to get away for a weekend? Big Lake State Park is Missouri’s largest oxbow lake (a crescent-shaped lake formed when a meander of a river is cut off from the main channel). The 625-acre lake is a popular rest stop for migrating birds; paired with the beautiful park, the area is ideal for camping, picnicking, fishing and some of the best bird watching in the state. The park is an hour’s drive north of St. Joseph.
As lush and beautiful as its name suggests, Big Oak Tree State Park comprises more than 1,000 acres of old oak tree forest, marshy terrain and rolling farmland. Ramble along the boardwalk and admire the soaring trees that average more than 120 feet in height. Located in the bootheel, 15 miles south of East Prairie, the park offers an interpretive center, hiking trails, picnic sites and a small lake.
Yes, these are just eight, but the other 44 State Parks, coupled with 35 State Historic Sites, are equally diverse and enjoyable. Find them listed on VisitMO and Missouri State Parks.