Getting My Feet Wet at the Devil’s Icebox

Getting My Feet Wet at the Devil’s Icebox

As I have been learning, Missouri is more than farmland and forests. From the rocky mountains of the Ozark Plateau to the rolling fields of the north, every section has a unique and interesting landscape. For my second State park visit of the year, I picked a region I haven't spent much time in: Central Missouri.

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Wakonda State Park

Wakonda State Park

Sometimes you visit a place for the first time, and it feels like you have been there before. That’s how my visit to Wakonda State Park was. The park is a couple hours north of Saint Louis, and is the furthest north I have traveled in Missouri. It is a cool park that was created through a combination of natural processes and human involvement.

Ancient glaciers carved the land, and deposited large amounts of gravelly rock as they receded. These deposits ran very deep, and were mined as a source of road surfacing material throughout the 1900s. As the deposits became exhausted the land was given to the Missouri State Park Board. The six gravel excavation sites turned into lakes, and the Sand that was moved early on in the mining became a natural habitat for many plants that are rare in Missouri today.

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Sam A. Baker State Park

Sam A. Baker State Park

The St. Francis Mountains are an ancient range rising from the Ozark plateau. Millions of years of erosion carved away at the volcanic rock creating the many valleys, bluffs, and shut-ins that can be found there today. The land is a beautiful rugged wilderness: hiking through these mountains can feel like you are going back to a time before humans. Sam A. Baker State Park perfectly captures the essence of this area.

At the heart of the park is Mudlick Mountain, one of the significant domes within the St. Francis Mountains. The mountain is surrounded by the largest wilderness preserve in the Missouri state park system. The park features an extensive network of trails that allow visitors to experience the untouched beauty of the Precambrian mountains. There are also many options for backcountry camping, including three shelters built in 1930 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

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