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Outdoor Adventures Await in Missouri
The Show Me State wants to show you a great time, and getting outdoors should be high on anyone’s travel itinerary. Have you got an adventurous spirit? Missouri has an adventure waiting for you!
Missouri has a fantastic collection of state parks, and you’ll find tons to do here. Tie on your hiking boots and set out for Washington State Park, which has native forest laced with hiking trails as well as historic petroglyphs. Cuivre River State Park has trails for hikers and horse riders and a great lake to cool off in. Speaking of lakes, Lake of the Ozarks has a surface area of 54,000 acres and 1,150 miles of shoreline. Lake of the Ozarks State Park protects some of the best of the area’s landscapes – swim until you turn to a prune, cruise the forest-lined shore in a canoe, or take a lantern-lit cave tour. Dirt bikers and all-terrain vehicle riders love Finger Lakes State Park, which has miles and miles of dirt trails as well as boating and fishing spots.
Hikers are properly taken care of in Missouri. The Ozark Trail stretches more than 390 miles and lopes across much of southeast Missouri – it leads through hardwood forest, backcountry zones, and clear creeks, and can be hiked as a whole or in manageable sections. Everyone can make it to the summit of Taum Sauk Mountain, which is Missouri’s highest point – the trail is wheelchair accessible and the fall colors here are spectacular. Nearby Mudlick Mountain offers the state’s biggest climb – you’ll ascend 900 vertical feet on your way to the summit; the hike is six miles roundtrip.
Missouri may not normally come to mind when contemplating winter recreation, but what the state lacks for in snow it makes up in enthusiasm. When it snows, sledders flock to Art Hill in St. Louis while ice skaters take to the Steinberg Ice Skating Rink in St. Louis’ Forest Park neighborhood. Sledding is popular at Stephens Lake in Columbia and make sure not to miss the penguin parade at the St. Louis Zoo or the Loop Ice Carnival in St. Louis. Downhill skiers are kept happy at Hidden Valley Ski Resort, which is west of St. Louis – seven ski lifts serve 17 trails. At Snow Creek, north of Kansas City, five lifts access 12 trails. Both areas have massive snowmaking guns for when the white stuff refuses to fall from the sky, and both also offer lift-served tubing.
Ziplining is becoming popular here, and there are plenty of places where you can whir through the forest and over deep gorges. Adventure Ziplines of Branson has zip lines open both day and night, and Branson Zipline at Wolfe Mountain is great for families and first-timers. You can also head for NRO Zipline in Lebanon, ShowMe Ziplines in Rayville, and Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure in Swope Park, where you can sail through the forest then balance on suspended bridges strung between trees.
Mountain biking draws riders from around the region, and you’ll find miles of great singletrack and lonely trails rolling across the prairie. Near Kansas City you’ll find great trails in Walnut Woods and Hodge Park, while Columbia is close to the popular rides in Finger Lakes State Park and Rock Bridge State Park. The Ozark Trail offers unparalleled adventure for bikers – put together a kit and set out for days of riding across bold streams and over rocky plateaus. Freestylers head for the St. Louis Bike Park, which has 28 acres of jumps and features aimed at everyone from beginner BMX riders to advanced mountain bikers.
Canoers will find miles and miles of placid waters to dip a paddle into. On the Big Piney River you can see limestone bluffs topped with pine trees, and the river is fed by along the way by clear, cold springs. Big Sugar Creek offers days of paddling adventure through the Ozarks in southwest Missouri, and the Courtois (local pronunciation is “court-away”) winds through dense stands of forest and native vegetation.
Fly fishers will find feisty trout and plenty of shallow water to wade. Popular streams to cast into include Beaver Creek, Big Piney River, Big River, Current River, Eleven Point River, and the Elk River, which is especially clear. Anglers who prefer to cast from boats or from shore will find lakes, ponds, and reservoirs full of crappie, largemouth bass, walleye, and channel catfish. Some of the best lakes for fishing include Forest Lake, which has an accessible dock, and Atkinson Lake, which is popular for its flathead catfish.
Hunting is popular in the Show Me State, and deer are the prey of choice. The Arcadia Valley is full of oak and hickory forests, while Mark Twain National Forest has whitetail deer, turkey, quail, doves, geese, rabbits, and more. Waterfowl hunting is popular at Council Bluff Lake Recreation Area – you can find wood ducks, lesser scaups, American coots, mallards, and blue-winged teals. Other waterfowl hunting spots include Duck Creek, Eagle Bluffs, and Grand Pass.
Did you bring your clubs? Pack them up – or rent a set – and seek out some of the state’s great greens. Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis hosts championship games and is lauded for its par-71 18-hole course which stretches 7,547 yards. Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta has been the site of a PGA Tour Champions meet and has 18 holes totaling 6,944 yards. In Cape Girardeau, Dalhousie Golf Club was designed by Gary Nicklaus and rests on the banks of the Mississippi River.
So no matter your passion – be it swinging a club, slicing through the air from a zip line, or hiking through a verdant tapestry of green – Missouri has an adventure waiting for you. Come join in the fun!