State Parks Ideal for Exploration this Fall


Article Tags:

Outdoor Adventure , outdoors , Family Fun , camping , State Parks and State Historic Sites
Check out these state parks offering big adventure in the fall.
Author: Tom Uhlenbrock

Tucked into the northeast corner of Missouri on the Mississippi River, Wakonda State Park features six lakes and a rare sand prairie.

And it’s just one of many Missouri State Parks your family can enjoy this fall.

Wakonda’s location on the Mississippi Flyway makes the park a popular stopover for migrating waterfowl in the spring and fall. The birds rest and feed on the lakes before continuing on their journey.

The land was mined by gravel companies, which had removed more than 26 million tons of sand and gravel by the late 1980s.  The exhausted land was turned over to the state, and the gravel excavation left the park with six lakes.

The lakes are favorites with fishermen, and the park rents kayaks and non-motorized boats for visitors to explore the water. Two of the lakes are closed to boating during the bird migrations.

Hiking and bicycling trails allow access to view the sand prairie, lakes and waterfowl. Sand from the quarries was used to create the state park system’s largest natural sand swimming beach along Wakonda Lake.

Campsites, picnic areas and a playground are available.

North of Columbia in central Missouri, Finger Lakes State Park offers two distinct types of recreation – watersports and off-road riding.

Once the site of a coal strip-mining operation, the 1,128-acre park has been recycled into more than 70 miles of off-road motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle trails.

The trails have steep hills and deep ravines to challenge the skills of even experienced riders. The motocross track was designed by professional riders.

For visitors seeking a quieter park experience, the numerous finger-shaped lakes allow fishing, floating and scuba diving. The park rents kayaks and canoes, and has an aquatic trail marked by buoys.

A shaded picnic area is in the center of the park and has tables and grills. The camping area has modern restrooms, hot showers and basic and electric sites.

Located less than an hour’s drive from Kansas City, Wallace State Park is an island of serenity amid the rolling farmland of northwest Missouri.

This family-friendly park offers fishing on a six-acre lake, hiking on four trails and campgrounds with modern restrooms and hot showers.

When settlers began arriving in the early 1800s, they found streams and forests full of wildlife and prairies that could be planted in crops. When most of the land was being converted to agriculture, concerned citizens acquired a 121-acre tract owned by the Wallace family.

Wallace State Park was one of the first recreational areas in northwest Missouri, with much of the initial development done in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration.

Today, the park still has rugged terrain with forest-covered hillsides, but also offers trails that wind through the park, picnic sites scattered in the woods and near the lake and a variety of campsites, including walk-ins that provide seclusion.

Wakonda, Finger Lakes and Wallace are just three of 87 official Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites your family will enjoy this fall. Learn more at

  Wakonda State Park
A favorite of fishermen, the park's lakes offer black bass, channel catfish and bluegill. The park features ...

  Wakonda State Park Campground
Basic, electric and sewer/electric/water campsites are available. Facilities include showers, water ...

  Wallace State Park
This heavily wooded park is a favorite of bird watchers and solitude seekers. It features individual ...

  Wallace State Park Campground
Basic and electric campsites, modern restrooms, hot showers and a dump station are offered. Some campsites ...

  Finger Lakes State Park
This reclaimed strip-mine area, 20 minutes north of Columbia off Route 63, is one of two state parks ...

  Finger Lakes State Park Campground
This park features basic and electric campsites. There are some accessible sites. Services available ...