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Visit our Missouri State Parks - Taum Sauk Mountain, Elephant Rocks and Johnson's Shut-ins

Missouri State Parks  |  Best and Most Beautiful State Parks in MO!

Taum Sauk Mountain State Park  |  Elephant Rocks State Park  |  Johnson's Shut-ins State Park
Missouri Geology of the St. Francois Mountains, perhaps the oldest mountain range in
North America

If you're looking for State Parks in Missouri, come to the Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area in Iron and Reynolds Counties in MO, where these Missouri Natural Wonders are all within minutes of each other, and are near St. Louis ~ just 80 miles!  Come to Missouri to explore Precambrian era geology.

If you're looking for State Parks in Missouri, welcome to our website where you will find comprehensive information and photos of the most beautiful Missouri State Parks, all within minutes of one another, near St. Louis.  Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, Elephant Rocks State Park, Johnson's Shut-ins State Park are just a short 80 mile drive from St. Louis.  These spectacular Missouri natural geologic wonders are located in the St. Francois Mountains Region of the Missouri Ozark Plateau.  You will see and experience a landscape unique on the earth. Learn about Missouri geology and the Parks and find links to lodging, campgrounds and other recreational activities nearby.

St. Francois Mountains Geology.  The precambrian St. Francois Mountains were formed through volcanic and intrusive activity nearly 1.5 billion years ago.  By comparison, the Appalachians started forming about 460 million years ago and the Rockies a mere 70 million years ago.  When the Appalachian Mountains started forming, the St. Francois range was already twice as old as the Appalachians are today. This range is one of the oldest exposures of igneous rock in North America.

Whether you enjoy photography, geology, camping, hiking, backpacking, picnicking, bird watching or mountain biking, there is no other region of Missouri that has this much to offer the avid outdoorsman.  If you're a "rock hound" you need to visit this unique area.  If you long to see and experience a special place where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, containing ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic or historical value, make your plans to visit this unique area of the United States now.  We look forward to your visit to the most beautiful place in Missouri.

Follow the links below, or take our tour of Missouri State Parks to learn more. 

Recent news in Missouri Geology at Johnson's Shut-ins State Park 10/20/2008:  Rhyolite rock created 1.4 billion years old when volcanoes exploded to create the St. Francois Mountains are revealed.  To read a fascinating article from the Columbia Tribune about recent geological finds in the scour area of Johnson's Shut-ins revealed by the Taum Sauk Reservoir breach, please click here.

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Watch our movie about these Missouri State Parks and much more!
Come to the Arcadia Valley Region & Black River Recreation Area for your best Missouri Vacation ever!


The Most Beautiful & Spectacular State Parks in Missouri!

Taum Sauk Mountain State Park - Want to hike to the top of a mountain? Just park in the lot of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and walk a mere 1,000 feet on a paved path to Missouri’s highest point. Here, an elevation marker sits, guiding visitors to the mountain’s 1,772 foot summit. If that’s not enough, the hike to Mina Sauk Falls will take your breath away.  Read more here.

Elephant Rocks State Park - A train of circus elephants dance trunk-to-tail to form an awe-inspiring sight to the young and to the young at heart. This is the appeal of Elephant Rocks State Park, named for a train of gigantic pink granite boulders perched atop a hill, just like circus elephants! Read more here.

Johnson's Shut-ins State Park - Nearly 1.5 billion years ago, violently explosive volcanoes hurled hot gasses and ash into the air. The ashes and gas fell and cooled, forming rhyolite rock. A billion years later, shallow inland seas swallowed the ancient, worn-down mountains, burying the igneous rock under thousands of feet of sedimentary rock such as limestone, sandstone, shale and dolomite.  Read more here.

After you have explored our Missouri State Parks, come back to this page.  Follow the links below to learn about the abundant recreational opportunities near these State Parks.
Missouri Float Trips near State Parks on the Black River
Enjoy Missouri canoeing at its best, or choose to take a relaxing float trip in rafts, tubes or kayaks.  Black River floating is a pleasure for veteran and novice floaters alike, offering an ever changing outdoor experience spring through fall. The river is clear and beautiful as it gently moves through dense wooded forests and green meadows, winding past tall cliff walls dotted with caves and fern greenery. Click here for more about Black River Float trips and find links to outfitters.

Missouri Hiking, Mountain Biking and the Ozark Trail in Iron County and Reynolds County Missouri
If you want to go hiking or mountain biking among some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the United States, but feel you have to travel to Colorado or the Appalachian Trail to do so, you have not yet heard of the St. Francois Mountain Region of the Missouri Ozark Plateau. If you want to see and experience a landscape unique on the earth, make your plans to visit the Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area. Come to Missouri where hundreds of miles of trails await your exploration!  Read more here.

Missouri Birding, Bird Watching ~ Best places in Missouri for bird watching.
Bird watching, often called birding has quickly become the most popular spectator sport in America.  Anyone at any age can participate in this rewarding activity.  Of the over 800 species found in North America, over 400 different kinds of birds have been identified in Missouri.  The reason for this abundance of birds is open space and the diversity of habitat.  Our region is undoubtedly one of the best areas in Missouri for bird watching.  Read more about Missouri Birding in our region.

Lodging and Dining near these Missouri State Parks
Choose from spectacular resorts, motels, hotels, lodges, charming and romantic bed and breakfast inns, family vacation rentals, cabins or cottages.  Everything you can dream of is right here in our region.  All lodging facilities are near our abundant recreational opportunities, shopping, dining, entertainment and Missouri canoeing. Click here for Lodging.

Everything from fine dining to casual fare is available near these Missouri State Parks.  Click here to find restaurants, taverns and bars in the Arcadia Valley and Black River Recreation Area.

Campgrounds near Elephant Rocks, Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and Johnson's Shut-ins State Park.  If you're looking for a Missouri Campground where you can getaway to enjoy float trips, canoeing, rafting, camping cabins, horseback riding, trail riding and even live music and concerts by the river and under the stars, our MO campgrounds will fulfill your every desire. Click here for a campground directory.
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Thank you to Daniel Moss Photography for the beautiful photos on this site!

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