Missouri itself can be called a natural wonder, full of lakes, mountains, rivers, caves, and water falls. However, most of the lakes were not included in this list only because they were man-made (even Lake of the Ozarks!) so weren’t officially “natural wonders”. This is the first of a two-parter, and my challenge to you is to send in some of your own amazing pictures of natural wonders in this beautiful state by posting them in the comments…you might just see them in Part Two!!! Enjoy.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Rocky Falls
Located in the Southern Missouri Ozarks, just east of Eminence and part of the Current River and Jack's Fork National Scenic Riverways.
2. Current River
The Current and Jacks Fork rivers were the first in the U.S. to be designated National Parks. Clean, clear waters and scenic surroundings make it a great destination for outdoor activities. Located in the Ozark Highlands.
3. Mina Sauk Falls
Mina Sauk Falls is the state's highest waterfall with clean, clear water cascading 132 feet down Taum Sauk Mountain from the state's highest point.
4. Johnson's Shut-Ins
Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a Missouri State public recreation area covering 8,647 acres on the East Fork Black River in Reynolds County.
In warmer weather you can play in the shallows of the East Fork of the Black River, but this time of year is a great time to hike a trail that shows you 1.4 billion years of geologic history or to go horseback riding on a beautiful mountain trail.
5. Elephant Rocks
Elephant Rocks State Park is a state-owned geologic reserve and public recreation area that get its name from the gigantic granite boulders found there, some the size of, and resembling, elephants. Located in the Saint Francois Mountains in rural Iron County.
The rocks were formed long ago when magma cooled to form the red granite that weathered over time into what we see today.
6. Grand Falls
Grand Falls, on Shoal Creek, is one of Missouri’s most scenic destinations. The largest, continuously flowing natural waterfall in Missouri, Grand Falls plunges 25 feet to a solid ledge before flowing southward.
7. Roaring River
Roaring River State Park consists of 4,093.38 acres and is located in Barry County near Cassville. Known for its trout fishing on the Roaring River, seven amazing hiking trails, and the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center, open seasonally. Deep blue springs, clear, turbulent waters, and a canyon-like, mountain setting creates a relaxing outdoor experience.
8. Onondaga Cave
Onondaga Cave State Park was established in 1982 and is located on the Meramec River approximately 5 miles southeast of the village of Leasburg. Although Missouri has more than 5,500 caves, Onondaga Cave, a national natural landmark, is considered one of the most spectacular caves in the nation because of the quality and beauty of its formations. Cave tours are available seasonally.
9. Fantastic Caverns
Fantastic Caverns is a ride-through cave discovered in 1862 and located at 4872 North Farm Road 125 in Springfield. It was used as a speakeasy during Prohibition, then as a live country music venue in the 1950’s and 60’s. Currently, the privately owned attraction hosts over 140,000 visitors each year for an hour long tour of the cave. For more information on tours, visit
10. Meramec Caverns
Meramec Caverns, a major Missouri tourist attraction since 1933, offers guided tours along well-lighted walkways. They take over an hour and cover about 1.25 miles. It is a historic Route 66 destination and is located right off Interstate 44 at exit 230. Besides the caverns themselves, on-site facilities include a gift shop, a sluice, picnic areas, and a candy store, as well as Meramec Caverns Restaurant, Meramec Caverns Motel, Meramec Caverns Campground, Cavern Canoe and Raft Rentals, Jesse James Wax Museum, and Caveman Zipline. They are open all year round, only closing on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
11. Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the chief river of the largest drainage system on the North American continent and ranks as the fourth longest and tenth largest river in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. You can follow the river along the Missouri Great River Road, spanning a broad range of American culture.
12. Marvel Cave
Marvel Cave is a National Natural Landmark and is located just west of Branson on top of Roark Mountain in Stone County.
The Marvel Cave was first discovered by the Osage Tribe and is one of the largest in North America. The Osage Indians believed it was the “devil’s den” after a bear and a boy fell into the cave. Later, in 1869, miner’s from St. Louis mined it for bat guano, used to make gunpowder, until the guano was gone. In 1894 it was purchasd by William Henry Lynch and turned into a tourist attraction. The entrance room is one of the largest in North America. When Silver Dollar City was opened in 1960, it was built around the entrance to the cave, and to this day, cave tours are included with admission to Silver Dollar City. They also offer a 90-minute lantern tour for an extra fee featuring guides dressed in period costume who share stories and historical facts. The tour begins 90 minutes prior to the park closing from March through October and at 5:00 p.m. in November and December. Reservations are required.
13. Ha Ha Tonka
Although one of the most unique features of this park is the ruins of the turn-of-the-20th century castle, the 3,700 acres of this beautiful park has natural wonder and beauty galore. It is located on the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Springfield and five miles south of Camdenton. There are over 15 miles of trails to explore, featuring Missouri’s 12th largest spring, caves, and a natural bridge.
14. Cuivre River
Cuivre River is a 41.6-mile-long river in the east central part of the state. Part of its course marks the borders between Lincoln and St. Charles counties before emptying into the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. The Cuivre River State Park near Troy has its southwestern borders on the river.
There you have part one, and 15 beautiful examples of the natural wonders you can find in Missouri. Now, it’s your turn. Share you photos, comments and experiences below.