Seven Wonders of Missouri

1 decade 7 months 1 week ago June 14, 2006 Jun 14, 2006 Wednesday, June 14 2006 Wednesday, June 14, 2006 4:59:17 PM CDT in News

Ozark National Scenic Riverways - The Current and Jacks Fork rivers were the first in the U.S. to be designated National Parks. Their clean, clear waters make them ideal locations for canoe trips, while their scenic surroundings provide opportunities for camping, hiking, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities. Located in the Ozark Highlands south of Rolla, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways encompass dozens of square miles of karst topography, including caves, sinkholes and other landforms.www.nps.gov/ozar/

Johnson's Shut-Ins - After being closed for nearly six months following the Dec. 14 Taum Sauk reservoir rupture, Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park welcomed its first visitors over the Memorial Day weekend. The one billion gallons of water that rushed through the scenic park changed its landscape. Mature forests which once surrounded the campground are gone, replaced by giant boulders and several feet of sand. The shut-ins themselves were relatively unharmed, but ancient rocks bearing new scars and ragged edges are evidence of recent damage. Now, visitors see a focus on the interpretation of the event with several self-guided trails and an auto tour available. Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park will someday become the park everyone remembers, which is why it is still on our list of possible 7 Wonders of Missouri. www.mostateparks.com/jshutins.htm


Elephant Rocks State Park - Behemoth granite boulders, some the size of many elephants, sit atop a granite ridge in rural Iron County, waiting for visitors to explore them. The rocks are an example of the Ozarks tumultuous past combined with its more recent benign condition. The rock was formed when magma cooled to form the red granite which later weathered into the rounded, huge boulders that exist today.  Visitors can climb among the rocks or investigate the many crevasses that form a natural maze, or just explore the scenic vistas the area offers. www.mostateparks.com/elephantrock.htm

The Gateway Arch - The Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis is perhaps the most recognizable landmark in Missouri. Visitors can ride to the top of the 630-foot, stainless steel arch, but that's not all. The Museum of Westward Expansion, under the footprint of the arch, documents U.S. expansion from the East Coast to the West. Also part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is the old courthouse, one of the oldest buildings in St. Louis.www.nps.gov/jeff

Katy Trail - The Katy Trail stretches 225 miles across the state, offering great opportunities for walking, running, biking and, in some places, horseback riding. Users will pass through some of the most scenic areas of the state and traverse different habitats and landscapes, from the towering bluffs above the Missouri River to rolling prairies in western Missouri. History buffs will likely enjoy the real-life narrative of rural communities along the trail as well. www.mostateparks.com/katy.htm

Route 66/Route 66 State Park - Labeled the Main Street of America, Route 66 is a delight for the road wanderer as it traverses the Missouri landscape. Route 66 was the main highway for travelers between Chicago and the desert Southwest. Between those two distant locales, Missouri offered 317 miles of the Mother Road, most of which has been decommissioned and turned into supporting infrastructure for Interstate 44. Still, there are a few historical gems that exist today to remind folks of days gone by. The state of Missouri has developed a state park that highlights the more important parts of the historic road. An old inn serves as the visitor center and houses Route 66 memorabilia. Nearby picnic tables and walking trails also welcome visitors.www.mostateparks.com/route66.htm

Missouri's Covered Bridges - There are four covered bridges protected within the Missouri State Park and Historic Site system. Sandy Creek Covered Bridge is one of the best-looking, with a bright red coat against the deep green of summer growth. Locust Creek Covered bridge once housed the nation's first transcontinental road and now is the longest covered bridge in the state. Union Covered Bridge spans the Elk Fork of the Salt River in Monroe County and has a unique design within Missouri. The oldest covered bridge in the state is Bufordville Covered Bridge which sits on a picturesque plot of land near Bollinger Mill. www.mostateparks.com/sandybridge.htm

Shepherd of the Hills Old Mill Theatre - The Shepherd of the Hills Old Mill Theatre stems from a story that was first published in 1907. The Shepherd of the Hills, a book based on the people and places of the hills surrounding Branson, soon became one of the most widely-published books and drew crowds of people to the area. Some say that book put Branson on the map. The story within the book is portrayed in a nightly drama at the Old Mill Theatre. Visitors are transported deep into the old homestead where they are immersed in tales of love, loss, power, hardship and the true meaning of life.www.theshepherdofthehills.com

Grand Falls - Grand Falls, a relatively unknown, yet breathtaking landform in southwest Missouri, is the state's highest natural, continuous waterfall. Located on Shoal Creek, the state's widest waterfall drops at times 25 feet over deep chert deposits to the waters below. http://www.ruralmissouri.org/05pages/05JulyGrandFalls.html

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame - The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame houses jerseys, autographed photos, and other memorabilia from a number of sports including football, baseball, fishing, and racing. The Missouri Sports Attic pays homage to athletes who are Missouri natives and collegiate teams in Missouri. http://www.mosportshalloffame.com/

Precious Moments Chapel - The Precious Moments Park near Carthage provides a respite from the flurry of everyday life. Tucked in the rolling hills of southwest Missouri, the park is centered around figurines that have become popular worldwide. Exquisite artwork graces almost every inch of the buildings that dot the park, from the Precious Moments Chapel to the Fountain of Angels to Wedding Island. Learn about the inspiration behind Precious Moments figurines and learn about the manufacturing process as well.www.preciousmoments.com

Roaring River State Park - The terrain surrounding Roaring River and the park that lies along it are reminiscent of a western mountain setting. The deep blue spring, which emerges from beneath a tall bluff, has enchanted visitors young and old since people began coming to the area. Roaring River is a popular trout-fishing stream, while the park features dozens of miles of hiking trails. The turbulent, clear water and the canyon-like environment lead to a relaxing and laid-back ambience. www.mostateparks.com/roaringriver.htm

Bonne Terre Mine - Despite its incredible size, this potential wonder, a one-billion gallon lake, is hidden from sight because it is entirely underground. Visitors begin with a tour of the dry portion of the mine where numerous minerals were extracted from the earth over a period of 100 years. After mining ended, the expansive network of tunnels and open spaces began to fill with water, creating one of the largest underground lakes in the world. The crystal-clear waters (visibility is always at least 100 feet) beckon scuba divers from around the world. National Geographic named Bonne Terre Mine one of the Top 100 Adventures in the world and other say it's one of the most amazing sites in Missouri! www.2dive.com/btm.htm

Missouri State Capitol - Sitting atop a high bluff overlooking the Missouri River, the State Capitol houses the offices of elected government officials and others who are involved with the state's operation. The lawns surrounding the Capitol are well-manicured and filled with ornate fountains. Inside, artwork covers many of the ceilings and walls, including those in the Rotunda. A museum on everything Missouri offers insights into the past, present and future of the state.www.mostateparks.com/statecapcomplex/index.html

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge - Extensive tracts of bottomland swamp cover Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. You can drive or paddle deep into this Missouri rarity and examine the species of plants and animals that call this swamp home. http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Mingo/

Onandaga Cave State Park - The natural beauty that characterizes Missouri is more than skin deep. Missouri, the Cave State, has more than 5,500 caves. Some of the state's most scenic natural sites lie beneath the surface in caves. One Missouri cave stands out above the rest, Onondaga Cave. www.mostateparks.com/onondaga.htm

Mina Sauk Falls - Mina Sauk Falls, the state's highest waterfall and one of Josh's favorite Missouri sites, is a sight to see during the wet season. Clean, clear water cascades 132 feet down Taum Sauk Mountain, the state's highest point, creating a scenic view from the valley below. The Ozark Trail passes by the falls where you can play and relax in the falls. http://www.mdc.mo.gov/areas/natareas/slide77.jpg

Amish Community of Jamesport - Jamesport is a small town nestled in the rolling hills of northwest Missouri. The town flourished in the 19th century until the main railroad route across the heartland rolled through Kansas City, leaving towns like Jamesport off the beaten track and slowly fading into history. Jamesport is home to Missouri's largest Amish community and hosts a large number of Amish and English shops and activities that cater to tourists who want to return to days past.www.jamesport.net

Anheuser-Busch Brewery - Free tours of the brewery in St. Louis give visitors opportunities to see the all-natural brewing process. Views of the state-of-the-art facilities, the brew houses, cellars and packaging plants are offered as well. www.budweisertours.com

St. Louis Zoo - The Saint Louis Zoo has educated, entertained and earned a place in the hearts of generations of visitors who come to see diverse wildlife from every continent and to learn about wildlife conservation. www.stlzoo.com

St. Louis Art Museum - Another free St. Louis attraction, the St. Louis Art Museum, showcases one of the nation's leading comprehensive art collections, including works of exceptional quality from virtually every culture and time period. Eras of note include Oceanic, pre-Columbian, ancient Chinese bronzes, and European and American art of the late 19th and 20th centuries, with particular strength in 20th century German painting. www.stlouis.art.museum

Walt Disney's Hometown of Marceline - Although Disney wasn't born in Marceline, he spent the most influential years of his life there. Marceline loves its Disney connection and it's evident almost everywhere you go, from his museum and school to his boyhood home and the Dreaming Tree. Even Main Street in Marceline might look familiar: it was the model for Main Street USA at Disney theme parks. www.marceline.com

Hermann - This quaint Missouri River town has become famous for its German roots and fine wine and dining. Peruse the streetfront shops or explore the cellars of some of the state's finest wineries.

Trail of Tears State Park - The tragic history that gives Trail of Tears State Park its name provides a sharp contrast to the peaceful, serene setting and the abundance of recreational opportunities enjoyed by visitors today. The 3,415-acre park is a memorial to the Cherokee Indians who died on tbe trail when the federal government forced them to relocate to the Oklahoma Territory. www.mostateparks.com/trailoftears.htm

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