Treasure in Your Own Backyard
August 17, 2011
It's about 125 degrees out with that Missouri heat index. I'm daydreaming about standing in a cool mountain stream, pulling in a rainbow trout, while soaking in the beauty of the tree-lined slopes. An occasional dragonfly wisps past..... What? Wake up? Okay, even mental vacations have an end. How lovely to pull out a memory of our 2011 June vacation, not in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, but in our own beautiful Missouri mountains.
When you think about getting away for some R & R, you don't have to drive out of state. My husband and I, though not natives of Missouri, are discovering the valuable resources we have in Missouri's beautiful State Parks. There's nothing like breaking away from the crowds and digital noise of modern life and finding restoration in calming creation.
Although most parks have campsites on an "open", walk-in basis, we prefer to see campsite photos and reserve our sites. For information and reservations, you can log in at www.mostateparks.com. In our experience, if you want to be assured of an electric site for any weekend, you need to make reservations six months ahead of time. Another library resource is Missouri State Parks: a Complete Outdoor Recreational Guide.
To insure the ability to cool off, we chose parks with natural water features. Our first night at Pomme de Terre-Hermitage Park, we walked onto a lakeside site complete with a gorgeous sunset. Our next three parks, reserved for three night stays, were Montauk State Park, Johnson's Shut-In's State Park and our always favorite, Bennett Springs State Park. Montauk and Bennett Springs have natural spring-fed rivers, stocked daily with trout. My husband kept us well fed with a daily supply of rainbows cooked over a wood fire, yum! We found weekend availability at Johnson's Shut-In's Park. Words fail to describe the geological wonders of Black River. It gets its name from the volcanic boulders that create a natural "water park" of chutes, pools and mini falls. After we hiked the parks trails, it was pure heaven to cool off in the river. There are obvious dangers from climbing around at this river, so I advise caution for those with children.
We have bragging rights now since we climbed Missouri's highest peak, Taum Sauk Mountain, elevation 1,770 ft.! (Perhaps I won't brag about that with those who've climbed in the Great Rockies lately.) It's possible whenever the grandchildren come along, we'll want to return to theme parks or the zoo for vacations. But I'm thinking the next generation will want to go camping too.