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For a boring Midwestern state, Missouri sure does have a lot of awesome state parks. I love parks that involve the natural and unique pieces of nature that make absolutely no sense. You know, like the elephant rocks and shut-ins!
If you haven’t heard of Elephant Rocks State Park or Johnson Shut-Ins, I recommend checking it out right now! It’s the perfect place for kids and adults alike. I took Mike and a couple of our friends down there on Labor Day and it was a complete blast! If you want to see some beautiful foliage, head down in the fall. If you want to do some serious swimming, you’ll want to go in the summertime.
These are places I remember vacationing to as a child and feeling blown away by the unique formations. If you live in Missouri, Illinois, or Arkansas, I recommend taking an extended weekend trip to enjoy all that this part of Missouri has to offer. You won’t regret it.
Elephant Rocks State Park
I don’t know how to describe the park other than huge chunks of granite stone everywhere. You hike around the area and can pretty much do whatever you want along the rock edges. There are tons of shady picnic areas if you choose to make a day of it, and they allow dogs! But that’s not even the best part… The trail is also handicap accessible for wheelchairs and is set up for the blind to also access easily. It’s really awesome. It’s the perfect place for an adventure. Here are some photos of our day:
Johnson Shut-Ins is a natural water park for kids and adults alike. That is the only way I can think to describe it. While we weren’t able to take photos (didn’t want anything to get wet and die), you can see awesome photos of the Shut-In’s on the park’s website and all over the place on Google.
Basically, jagged volcanic rocks jut upwards towards the sky and a river just happens to flow through them creating small waterfalls and little slides. There are larges areas in the river for swimming and places to jump from the rocks into the water. Some spots are 15 feet deep! The water is clear and sometimes you can catch the view of a fish or two.
Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed here, but I don’t think a dog would do well here anyways.
The best part: Both parks are free and only about 15 minutes apart!
If this sounds like a fun place to take your family, please work this into a little getaway. It’s honestly the best Missouri can do!