Elephant Rocks State Park, Missouri, earned its name for the colossal granite boulders that scatter the park and sit end-to-end somewhat resembling a line of pink circus elephants. But these massive rocks aren’t the only reason to pay a visit to this state-owned geologic site located between the Mark Twain National Forest and the Shawnee National Forest. The 133-acre park is also renowned for its handicap- accessible accommodations and its wealth of rock mining history! So whether you consider yourself to be a geology enthusiast or just a tourist curious about these pachyderm-sized stones, stop by the Elephant Rocks State Park and spend a day in nature that you won’t soon forget!
Things To Do
Tour the Rocks: Check out the seemingly endless collection of “elephants” located around the park, keeping an eye out for the granite outcrop that holds the park’s largest rock, humorously named Dumbo, which weighs in at an extraordinary 680 tons! Many of the rocks on site are carved with the names of 19th century miners who used to work in the area.
Walk the Braille Trail: Stroll the one-mile circular interpretive trail that takes you past some of the area's most impressive granite wonders. This trail is designed specifically for park guests with visual or physical impairments, and the wheelchair-accessible path is lined with signs written in both braille and regular text. This trail is the first of its kind in the state.
Explore the Mining Remains: Other trail sections extend off from the Braille Trail which take you past interesting historical sites like the ruins of an old engine house and an abandoned quarry, as well as natural wonders like a breathtaking vista which overlooks the beautiful St. Francois Mountains.
Have a Picnic: After you’re exhausted from exploring the trails and climbing the rocks, you’ll have worked up quite an appetite. Luckily, Elephant Rocks State Park is equipped with thirty picnic sites which provide the perfect place to rest your feet, eat some food, and enjoy the scenery. A playground is even located on site making this park a very family-friendly destination.
Where To Stay
While there is no camping allowed inside of the Elephant Rocks State Park, there are a number of local campgrounds nearby which offer comfortable accommodations within a relatively close proximity. Here are just a few of the campgrounds you have to choose from:
- Johnson Shut-Ins State Park Campground - This serene and well-kept campground is just a quick 21-minute drive from the Elephant Rocks State Park. On site you’ll find a dump station, shower houses, a camp store, and full hookups. The campground itself sits right on the Black River so you can watch the kids splash around in the shallow water or you can stroll the river’s edge and check out some of the amazing water and rock features of the shut-ins.
- Wild Boar Ridge Campground - This scenic and secluded campground is found just 34 minutes from the Elephant Rocks State Park, and it’s open all season long. On site you’ll find a playground, vault toilets, seasonal shower houses, and an awesome 440-acre lake which is fisherman-friendly! Additionally, a 12-mile trail provides picturesque hiking opportunities. Pets are welcome but they must be on a leash at all times.
- Silver Mines Campground - This fun and picturesque 75-site campground is located 32 minutes away from the Elephant Rocks State Park. On site you’ll find electric hookups, vault toilets, and a 2-mile long hiking trail. This campground is popular with kayakers looking to traverse the white waters of the St. Francois River, which also provides thrilling swimming opportunities for campers. The campground itself acquired its name for the old mining operation on which it is built which was historically known for harvesting silver.
In the Area
In addition to checking out the big boulders of the Elephant Rock State Park, the surrounding area also features a number of other attractions worth checking out. Swing by the Arcadia Valley Soap Co. and pick up some wonderfully-smelling soaps. Take a trip back in time at the Old Village Mercantile. And tour the historic battle grounds of Fort Davidson. And if you get hungry as you explore the sites of the area, just stop into Baylee Jo’s BBQ for some top-notch cuisine at unbeatable prices!
Now that you have all the information needed to successfully visit the Elephant Rocks State Park, start planning your trip today! And don’t forget to tell us all about it by leaving a comment below!