Friday, October 11, 2013

Where to Go: Elephant Rocks State Park, Missouri

Eons ago (1500 million years, if Wikipedia is to be trusted)— there stood a giant dome of hardened magma, laid bare to the wind and weather. The wind blew, the weather wore, and many eons later, there remained only a round granite tor, covered with gargantuan boulders looking like pebbles a giant had dropped. In the 1800s, a granite quarry appeared on the site, and miners left their graffiti in the rock. Today, that hillside is a Elephant Rocks State Park, one of the most impressive and best-loved parks in Missouri.

My husband, brother and I visited Elephant Rocks a few weeks ago, and spent a couple hours hiking the trails, climbing the boulders, and eating a picnic. We wandered up the handicap-accessible, braille-guided trail to the edge of the barren stretch of stone, then hopped over deep ridges, scrambled between round boulders, scaled steep inclines of granite, and kept on yelling, “Take my picture! Take my picture!” You could easily spend a full day exploring this park, even though it’s small. 

Why you should go: This area is a great outdoorsy destination, and is great for an easy stroll or some fun amateur rock-climbing. The view from the top of the tor is incredible, and with autumn colors just around the corner, I’m hoping to go back for another visit soon.

How to get there: You’ll have to wind through some “Missoura” back roads to get there, but it’s worth it. You can find driving directions on the park’s site.

What to bring: Wear hiking clothes, and shoes with good grips if you plan on doing any climbing. There are picnic tables and grills, so it’s a great place to bring a picnic supper. And don’t forget your camera!

What else you need to know: The park closes around dark, so be sure to get there before evening. If you have some spare time in the area, check out Johnson’s Shut-Ins or Buford Mountain Conservation Area. This trio would make a great weekend trip!

If you have hot guys to accompany you on your hike, that's even better.

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