Trip Ideas: Visit Parks Around Missouri
Whether you prefer the warm days of spring and summer, or the cool (and cold) days of fall and winter, Missouri's parks and natural areas are open for exploration year-round. From one of the largest city parks in the U.S. to expansive state parks and a handful of national sites and wildlife refuges, there's plenty of room to explore in the Show-Me State.
Northwest
Covering more than 7,000 acres, Squaw Creek is a resting, feeding, and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. It is home to 301 bird species (including nesting bald eagles), 33 mammal species, and 35 reptile and amphibian species. During spring and fall migrations, Squaw Creek's wetlands attract as many as 400,000 snow geese and 100,000 ducks. During the fall and winter, as many as 400 bald eagles have been spotted.
Route 159 South, Mound City MO 64470, 660-442-3187
Hours: Outdoor facilities: Dawn-dusk; Nature Shop: Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Hiking trails and a paved hiking and bicycling trail traverse this wooded park, which has designated markers for an audio tour. A handicapped accessible scenic overlook offers the most expansive views of the Missouri River in the state. Because the park is located along the forested river corridor, it offers excellent bird watching, especially during spring and fall migrations.
16600 N. Route 45, Weston MO 64098, 816-640-5443
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. (April 15-Oct. 31); 7 a.m.-6 p.m. (Nov.-April 14)
This park, four miles west of Trenton,features camping, hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails, an organized group camp, picnic sites and shelters, and a lake for fishing.
76 Route 128, Trenton MO 64683, 660-359-6473
Hours: Park opens at sunrise, closes at 10 p.m.
Northeast
Located in northeast Missouri, this park features a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and mountain biking. This area of Missouri is renowned for large populations of deer, which you might see while out walking or biking. During the warmer months, take advantage of the park's Forest Lake. It has a swimming beach and a marina that offers boat/kayak/canoe rentals. The park is two miles west of Kirksville, off Route 6.
20431 Route 157, Kirksville MO 63501, 660-665-6995
Hours: April-Oct.: daily, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Nov.-March: daily, 7 a.m.-sunset.
Scenic views from limestone bluffs and woodlands await at this park. Located on Mark Twain Lake, the park features camping, camper cabins, fishing, a boat ramp, hiking trails, a beach, an organized group camp, picnic sites and shelters. Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site is located in the park.
37352 Shrine Road, Florida MO 65283, 573-565-3440
Hours: Park grounds: sunrise to 10 p.m. daily
One of the largest urban parks in the United States; at 1,371 acres, it is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. The 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.
5595 Grand Drive, St. Louis MO 63112, 314-289-5300
Hours: Park grounds, 24 hours; hours of operation vary for attractions within the park
Southeast
The 843 acres are located in the upper watershed of the LaBarque Creek, a high-quality stream supporting more than 40 species of fish. The property features sandstone box canyons, shelter caves, cliffs, glades, upland and bottomland forests and almost 650 recorded species of plants. The area's natural features also attract numerous migratory songbirds.
5000 Don Robinson Road, Cedar Hill MO 63016, 636-257-3788
Hours: Dawn-dusk.
The 21,592-acre refuge lies in a basin formed in an ancient channel of the Mississippi River. Hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife observation, and wildlife photography are encouraged in the Wilderness Area; it is the largest remaining tract of bottomland hardwood forest in Missouri.
24279 Route 51, Puxico MO 63960, 573-222-3589
Hours: Sunrise to sunset.; Office: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4 p.m
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is America's first federally designated national park for the preservation of a wild river system. The park encompasses more than 80,000 acres around two spring-fed rivers: the Current River and its major tributary, the Jacks Fork River. Outdoor activities include camping, swimming, fishing, canoeing and hiking.
404 Watercress Drive, Van Buren MO 63965, 573-323-4236
Hours: Open 24 hours.
Southwest
Rush Springs is located in the heart of the Ozarks and features cabins, RV sites, fishing, hiking and off-road experiences covering 40 miles of off-roading trails. These include easy rides to extreme rock crawler trails. The park also has horse trails.
80 Rush Springs Lane, Pineville MO 64856, 479-202-4477
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Authorized by Congress in 1943, George Washington Carver National Monument preserves the birthplace and legacy of the famed African American scientist, educator and humanitarian. Park facilities include a visitor center and museum, gift shop, walking trail and picnic area. On the property, you can visit the 1881 Moses Carver house and the Carver Cemetery (George Washington Carver is buried at Tuskegee University in Alabama). Daily tours and special events are offered year round.
5646 Carver Road, Diamond MO 64840, 417-325-4151
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Stockton State Park overlooks Stockton Lake. A steady breeze across the Springfield plateau makes this park a favorite among sailing enthusiasts. It offers camping, camper and duplex cabins, picnic sites and shelters, dining, a marina, a beach, hiking and mountain biking trails, and fishing.
19100 S. Route 215, Dadeville MO 65635, 417-276-4259
Hours: Grounds: Sunrise-sunset; Park Office: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Central
The Trail of Tears Memorial & Interpretive Walking Trail offer storyboards of life of the Cherokee Nation during the journey of 1838-39 along this one mile paved path. Laughlin Park offers trout fishing in the Roubidoux River (Missouri fishing license required); an underwater cave that is open for scuba diving (clearance from the sheriff's department required); picnic tables and restrooms.
100 Historic Route 66, Waynesville MO 65583, 573-774-6171
Hours: Park hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
Missouri's largest state park has 89 miles of shoreline, two swimming beaches, boat-launching areas, marinas, campgrounds, camper cabins, two yurts, hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails, tours of Ozark Caverns, trail rides and organized group camps.
Route 134, Kaiser MO 65047, 573-348-2694
Hours: Park: Sunrise to one-half hour after sunset; Office: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Knob Noster State Park is a tranquil retreat of open oak woodland with a few patches of prairie along both sides of the meandering Clearfork Creek. It's a place for fishermen to wet a line, for mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders to get some trail time, and for families to spend quality time together.
873 SE 10 Road, Knob Noster MO 65336, 660-563-2463
Hours: 8 a.m.-dusk