Missouri Adventures: 171 Miles to Awesome

By Tina Casagrand

There are 171 miles between Columbia, Mo., and Ironton, Mo.

If you take the cool route, the “back route,” you pass through approximately nine small towns. Most have at least one roadside ice cream shop.

During this drive, you could listen to Old Crow Medicine Show’s Big Iron World 5.75 times for a total of 3 hours and 20 mintues.  If you wanted.

Upon arrival, you would get to choose among three of the most distinctive Missouri state parks to visit in the area, as well as one historic site.

Start at the top. Taum Sauk Mountain State Park marks Missouri’s highest point at 1,772 feet above sea level. It’s also home to the state’s tallest waterfall, Mina Sauk Falls.  Be sure to catch it in the spring or after a big rain.

From there, you could continue with a 14.5-mile hike on the Ozark Trail to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park and connect with the Scour Trail.  This two-mile trek takes you by the gash created by a break in the AmerenUE reservoir in 2005.  1.3 billion gallons of water stripped the land to its bedrock and carried down huge boulders three miles away.  Incredible.

But the prize of the park is the shut-ins themselves.  It’s hard to describe what they’re like, other than otherworldly.  Rocks ten times your size with water sluicing through them into deep blue pools.  Many people go there in the summer for a cool swim.

There’s also Fort Davidson Historic Site in Ironton.  “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.”

Finally, Elephant Rocks State Park is worth a stop to play on the mysterious red granite boulders.  They might be cool enough to make even the most apathetic person interested in geology.

So, take a few days to check out these natural wonders, or any other from around the state, and let us know how it goes! We’ll post your best photos right here on Footprint!

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