Missouri - Nature and Scientific Wonders

Missouri - Nature and Scientific Wonders

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Caves
More than 6,200 caves tunnel under Missouri, aptly called the Cave State. Several caves offer guided tours for visitors venturing to step below the surface and explore these natural wonders. Some are famous in history or legend, including the cave from Tom Sawyer, the hideout for outlaw Jesse James and the cave with the record for the most underground weddings. Others are noteworthy by nature. Onondaga Cave, for example, is a National Natural Landmark and recognized as one of the most spectacular caves in the country because of the quality of its formations.

Big Spring
More than 286 million gallons of water gush from Big Spring daily, making it one of the world's largest springs.

Ozarks National Scenic Riverway
Ozarks National Scenic Riverway is Missouri's largest national park and the nation's first national park area to protect a wild river system. The Riverway comprises 134 miles of the Current River and the Jacks Fork Rivers and offers picturesque places for canoeing, hiking, fishing and camping. Missouri has a total of over 50,000 miles of rivers and streams.

Lewis & Clark Missouri River Water Trail
The lower Missouri River offers the opportunity to paddle through history—following the trail of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The mapped water trail runs more than 500 miles through state conservation areas, state parks, federal lands and city parks. Katy Trail State Park, the longest rails-to-trails conversion project in the country, runs parallel to the river for over 150 miles. Access points to bed and breakfasts, shops and restaurants are close to the river's edge. There are many commercial campgrounds, boat clubs, marinas and bait-shops located along the river, providing supplies and a place to camp for the night.

Elephant Rocks State Park
The southeast region of Missouri boasts impressive granite rocks that date over a billion years. Elephant Rocks State Park is named for a particularly awesome rock formation where huge boulders stand end-to-end like a train of circus elephants—the largest a whopping 680 tons. A self-guiding trail (with Braille signage) winds among these geologic wonders.

Taum Sauk Mountain State Park
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, located in the St. Francois Mountains, contains 7,448 scenic acres of remote wilderness. It also is home to 1,772-feet Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri, and Mina Sauk Falls, the state's tallest wet-weather waterfall, which drops 132 feet over a series of rocky ledges. Primitive camping, hiking and backpacking trails, an accessible overlook and picnicking are available to visitors.

Wintering Bald Eagles
Missouri is one of the leading states for wintering bald eagles. In the month of January, they can be spotted primarily along the Mississippi and Osage Rivers and near Missouri lakes. Eagle-watching hot spots include Lake of the Ozarks, Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, Clarksville, Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Table Rock Lake and Truman Reservoir.

Audubon Great River Birding Trail
The Great River Road—winding 408 miles through Missouri along the Mississippi River from Iowa to Arkansas—is the spine of the Audubon Great River Birding Trail. This waterway is one of the nation's great flyways for waterfowl, shorebirds and neotropic migrants.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
Mingo National Wildlife Refuge's is the largest remaining tract of bottomland hardwood forest in southeast Missouri. The Mingo Swamp and adjacent hills are nestled in a linear basin formed in an ancient abandoned channel of the Mississippi River. The refuge includes 7,730 acres of federally designated wilderness and an abundance of native plants and wildlife. Mingo offers wildlife observation on a seasonal 20-mile auto tour route, hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting and environmental educational programs.

Missouri Botanical Garden
Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis has earned global recognition for its gardens, research and unparalleled efforts to catalog plants from the world's rain forests. Founded in 1859, it is the country's oldest botanical garden in continuous operation; a National Historic Landmark with 79 acres of beautiful gardens and historic structures. Outdoor and indoor displays include the Climatron tropical rain forest; Kemper Center for Home Gardening; Japanese Garden; George Washington Carver Garden; historic Tower Grove House; and the seasonal Doris I. Schnuck Children's Garden.

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