Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri
Looking for a unique state park to visit in the midwest region of the United States? Look no further than Elephant Rocks State Park!
Elephant Rocks State Park is a state-owned geologic reserve and public recreation area. It gets its name from the gigantic boulders that stand end-to-end like circus elephants. These rocks were apparently formed from 1.5 billion-year-old granite and have attracted tourists for years.
Where is Elephant Rocks State Park?
Elephant Rocks State Park is located in southeast Missouri in the town of Belleview. It is about 1 hour and 30 minutes by car from St. Louis making it the perfect day trip to enjoy a scenic outdoor hike.
When is The Best Time To Visit?
The best time to visit Elephant Rocks State Park is in the spring, early summer, or autumn months. Middle and late summer in Missouri tend to be very hot and humid making it more difficult to hike.
Although they are some of the best weather months, the on-season of this state park (April-October) can be extremely busy with tourists, especially during the summer since school is out.
The off-season (November-March) doesn’t have the most ideal weather, but there are significantly fewer crowds. Just make sure if you are visiting during the winter months to dress accordingly and watch out for icy patches – the trails and the rocks can get very slippery.
READ MORE: Johnson Shut-Ins State Park in Missouri
History of Elephant Rocks State Park
It is said that over 1.5 billion years ago during the Precambrian era, these giant boulders of granite were formed from slowly cooling magma and erosion to cause cracks in the granite forming multiple boulders. Some of these massive rocks even stand at 27 feet tall and weigh over 680 tons!
Another unique historical fact about this area dates back to 1869 – when an old rock quarry was opened right outside of the park. The quarry produced Missouri Red granite and furnished a number of iconic monuments in Missouri such as the Eads Bridge piers on the Mississippi River levee and the paving blocks for the streets of downtown St. Louis.
READ MORE: St. Louis, Missouri Travel Guide
At the entrance to the park, you’ll notice a number of picnic tables strategically placed beside or under trees to provide visitors with a shady place to enjoy lunch before or after their hike.
We also saw a number of visitors sitting on some of the rocks enjoying a picnic too. Regardless of where you decide to eat make sure you take your trash with you or dispose of it in the trash bins located around the park.
While you can bring your own lunch, there is a food truck on the weekends with a few menu items including hot dogs, brats, shave ice, nachos, and a few other snacks.
The easiest way to experience the rocks is on the mostly shaded Braille Trail. The Braille Trail is a one-mile trail that was designed specifically for those who are visually impaired or have physical disabilities – which is another reason we love this Missouri State Park.
All along the trail are carpeted areas and hand-ropes to signify changes in the pathway as there are some varying slopes along the train due to the rock formations. There are also stations that have Braille text to describe the areas on the trail.
On the Braille Trail, there is an access point that will take you on the Engine House Ruins Trail. It is a partially paved, 15-minute one-way hike towards the ruins of an old engine house. This engine house was used to repair train engines for the Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad in the 1890s.
After reaching the engine house the path will take you to the backside of the old quarry. Not only do these trails take you on a path of unbelievable beauty, but it also has a rich history to enjoy.
Park Hours: 8am-8pm (April-October), 8am-5pm (November-March)
Cost: Free to visit
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