Recreation in the Region: Getting Outdoors

Stock image: creative commonsMidwest springs too quickly turn to hot summers, so while the temperatures are still favorable take a look at all the outdoor recreation Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois have to offer. From hiking, to camping, to boating, there’s plenty of adventure.


Taum Sauk Mountain State Park offers a hiking trip to a mountain top - the highest point in the state of Missouri. The unbeatable view is worth the hike and the paved path offers easy walking that’s perfect for families. For more experienced hikers the park is full of trails that wind through the woods and rocky glades.At the top patrons can follow the elevation marker to take in the 1,772-foot view. A campground is also available.

Elephant Rocks State Park is a favorite day-trip spot in the area for its easy hiking and close proximity. Named for the shape and massive size of the boulders, Elephant Rocks State Park will provide the most interesting vacation pictures. Patrons can rock climb, rappel, or take in the view along Braille Trail.

Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park has a unique history - created by volcanoes, the site offers unique cave and rock formations, beautiful watering holes, and lush forests. Due to this diverse terrain there are activities for everyone. The crystal-clear Black River has shallow swimming and fishing areas. Patrons can camp, ride bikes or horses, hike, or take part in the summer programs.

The Mark Twain National Forest is Missouri’s only national forest. It is a popular destination for hunters, anglers, and wildlife enthusiasts. Aside from about 500 species of animals, the forest offers clear rivers and streams, lakes, rocky bluffs, pastoral views, and plenty of walking trails. Camp overnight, and take a boating adventure through one of the many lakes and springs.

The Missouri Ozarks are one of the area’s proudest natural treasures. The diverse landscape of the Ozarks offers mountains, caves, valleys, streams, and more. The Ozark trail offers the most ideal hiking - especially for adventurers looking for a challenge.

The Trail of Tears State Park in Jackson, Missouri offers a piece of Missouri’s history, as well as a variety of outdoor events such as camping, fishing, horseback riding, and much more. There are also several educational programs for kids and adults.

Sam A. Baker State Park is an excellent camping site right next to St. Francis River and Big Creek. With cabins and tent sites Sam A. Baker is great for long-term camping. They offer hiking trails, equestrian routes, swimming, boating, and a lodge for food and educational presentations.

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge offers a simpler wilderness experience. Their main goal is wildlife and plant conservation, and they offer several educational programs that work toward this goal. Hunting, fishing, camping, boating, swimming, environmental education, and wildlife observation are available.

Giant City State Park has a variety of hiking trails, as well as fishing, hunting, rock climbing, stables for horse-riding (including lessons), camping, and more.

Shawnee National Forest is a vast and beautiful park in Southern Illinois. It is home to Garden of the Gods, Little Grand Canyon, and Cave in Rock, or patrons can tour the forest from above with the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour zipline!


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