Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is an 8,647-acre public recreation area on the East Fork Black River in Reynolds County. It is jointly administered with the adjoining
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. Together the two parks cover 16,050 acres in the St. Francois Mountains region of the Missouri Ozarks.
Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park features amazing geological formations known as “shut-ins,” made of softer sedimentary rock eroding away around igneous rock pockets.
When the river’s breadth is limited by this hard rock that is resistant to erosion, the river cascades in small streams over and around these rocks, worn smooth over the ages.
Natural pools and slides can be found throughout the park, which is the reason Johnson’s Shut-Ins is referred to as “nature’s waterpark.”
Start from a shallow river and slide between boulders into the pools below. On even the hottest days, the underground springs still provide cool water.
Johnson's Shut-Ins State Part, in the Ozarks of Missouri
If you don’t want to slide, you can still wade in the shallow pools throughout the park and enjoy the summer sun.
Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park
Caution must be taken, and warnings heeded throughout the park. During times of high river levels there is an added level of danger as the possibility of being pulled under increases drastically. Also, some of the pools can be deeper than they seem and some may be concealing underwater ledges and caves.
The park's beautiful hiking trails let you appreciate over a billion years of geologic history and wonders, including a section of the Ozark Trail. The Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail is a 10-mile loop for horseback riding.
In addition to swimming and trails, there is also camping, rock climbing, and a paved quarter-mile walkway that takes visitors to an observation deck overlooking the beautiful shut-ins.
On December 14, 2005, the park was devastated by a catastrophic flood. The flood caused the failure of the Taum Sauk pumped storage plant reservoir located on top of a neighboring mountain. The park’s campground was completely destroyed. The extent of the damage from the flood caused the park to have to be closed, and a recovery plan put in place.
Before heading home, ask about the auto tour that passes by the ongoing recovery effort, as well as the recovered endangered fens area. It ends at a shaded overlook of the flood path accessible from the park entrance.
From here, you can walk a path through the boulder field created by the flood. This field contains many amazing examples of the minerals and rocks that make up the St. Francois Mountains.
Although the park was partially opened in the summer of 2006, swimming in the river and exploring rock formations were not allowed until 2009. In addition, a new campground opened in 2010.
For a bird’s eye view of the shut-ins, check out this amazing drone footage by Tan Nguyen:
Have you been to Johnson’s Shut-Ins? Was it before or after the flood damage? What was your experience? Share in the comments below.