Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park
For any Missouri resident, a visit to Johnson Shut-Ins State Park is a must. It's one of the most popular in the state and, at 8,670 acres, the park's also one of the largest. Josh deBerge shows us what makes this park so appealing to its visitors.
It features almost 1,000 plant varieties, dozens of hiking trails and other recreational opportunities.
"We have rare plants in the park," said Janet Price, park naturalist. "We have rare animals, such as the four-toed salamander. It is just a phenomenal area."
But those areas attract relatively few visitors, compared to other parts of the park. It's the shut-ins that attract the most visitors. That's where you'll find hundreds of people relaxing on a hot, summer afternoon.
Missouri's best example of shut-ins are along this section of the Black River, which drops nearly 100 feet in less than a mile. Most of that is along a quarter-mile section of the river, accessible by boardwalks and trails from the park's entrance. These geologic wonders took eons to form.
The powerful water carved chutes and pools which created a natural water park where visitors camp, hike, fish and bike. But it's still the turbulent, yet soothing, waters of the river that draw so many people to the park.
"It was a piece of land that was known by all the locals," Price added, "and they would come down and play in the water. How could you not? And there was a man named Joseph Deloge, he had the foresight that he wanted everybody through time to come out and see a beautiful place like this."
The state closed Johnson's Shut-Ins for a time because too many people were enjoying it. Extensive day-use of the park destroyed valuable habitats and created hazards for visitors. When the state re-opened the park years later, it restricted access by letting only 100 cars through the gates at a time. So, lines can be long during the summer.
But, the wait's worth it to spend a day or a weekend in the park and let the swift, cool waters wash your worries away.
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