Play in the shallows of the East Fork of the Black River. Shoot through Mother Nature’s hydraulics in the shut-ins. Hike a trail that will show you 1.4 billion years of geologic history. Take your horse on a pretty mountain trail. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is a jewel of the system, a place with something for everyone: pretty picnic areas, Ozark landscapes, natural places to swim, great campsites.
Climb to the top of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and be on top of Missouri – literally. The park’s 7,500 acres include the highest point in the state. Located in the St. Francois Mountains, the park's hickory forests and rocky glades provide a beautiful, solitary experience for hikers. A series of trails, including a portion of the Ozark Trail, wind through the park’s picturesque setting and provide awesome views of the surrounding countryside. The park also has a 12-site basic campground, a special use area for non-profit youth organizations, and a picnic area.
The giant elephant-shaped granite boulders are the star at Elephant Rocks State Park. The coarsely crystalline red granite forms are popular with history buffs (who like to read the names of the 19th century miners who used to work in the area and who carved their names into rocks), children (who love to climb and scramble over and through the rocks) and parents (who revel in taking pictures of their children pretending to push the rocks). The park has a trail that winds through the rocks, which is an interpretative Braille trail. Abundant picnic areas and vibrant fall colors add to the park’s appeal.
The Confederates under Gen. Sterling Price may have taken the fort, but Union efforts at Fort Davidson in the Battle of Pilot Knob were crucial to blunting the last Confederate offensive into Missouri. Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site preserves and interprets the running battle through the Arcadia Valley. The site’s open, grassy fields include the fort’s old earthworks, two Confederate burial trenches, and a visitor center with a narrated story of the battle and its context within the Civil War.