Best of Show: Two Southeast Missouri State Parks That Take Your Breath Away

Enjoy Mother Nature’s backyard by visiting two magnificent parks located in southeast Missouri’s Arcadia Valley.

According to the Missouri State Parks, Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park has about one billion years of geological history. The 8,549-acre park was formed through a combination of erupting volcanoes and natural erosion caused by wind and rain.

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Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park. Photo by Aaron Fuhrman.

Camping, swimming, horseback riding and taking a walk on the trail are just a few of the numerous activities the park offers to more than 250,000 visitors each year.  In fact, you can experience an interpretive amphitheater at the new Campground Trail System.

Just 17 minutes away, visitors can enjoy the wonders of Elephant Rocks State Park, home of Dumbo, the “pink patriarch” rock that weighs 680 tons.

Elepant Rocks State Park. Photo by Aaron Fuhrman.

The Braille trail, which loops for about one mile, is the first in Missouri to have an interpretive trail created for individuals with physical and visual challenges. Along with other standard park attractions, visitors have the opportunity to go rock climbing and repelling.

Elephant Rocks State Park was formed after magma was pushed to the surface, cooled and formed “reddish-pink” granite that is said to remind visitors of circus elephants.

At this time, the number of “elephants” dwelling in the park is unknown.

Take a look at for more information on these and other breathtaking parks in our fair state!

Written by Jamie Crockett, communications intern for the Missouri Division of Tourism. To see more breathtaking photos by Aaron visit

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