As you traverse the Ozark Mountains, the rich tapestry of history is palpable, resonating with the legacy of bygone eras. The Southeast Missouri Region is steeped in this heritage, from Ste. Genevieve, a historic gem as the oldest European settlement west of the Mississippi, to Cape Girardeau, a witness to the poignant saga of the Trail of Tears.

In Cape Girardeau, the Trail of Tears State Park stands as a solemn reminder of America’s darker chapters. It memorializes the forced relocation of the Cherokee, a harrowing journey across the Mississippi in the bitter winters of 1838 and 1839 that claimed countless lives. Yet, amidst this somber backdrop, the park extends a warm invitation to discover the majestic mountains and waterways. It offers a sanctuary with shaded picnic spots, trails for hiking and horseback riding, and abundant fishing in the Mississippi River and Lake Boutin. With its prime location along the river, the park also serves as a premier vantage point for observing migratory waterfowl, adding a serene beauty to its profound historical significance.
The Current and Eleven Point Rivers are serene retreats in the Southeast Ozarks, ideal for those seeking solace from daily life. The Current River, fed by the voluminous Big Spring near Van Buren, is a favorite for float trips—booking in advance with local outfitters is recommended.

Kayakers and canoeists will find the Eleven Point River a tranquil passage through the Irish Wilderness, a vast 15,000-acre forest accessible only on foot, offering an immersive natural experience.

For hikers, the White’s Creek Trail presents a rewarding challenge. This 17.4-mile loop near Fremont, Missouri, takes you through the heart of the wilderness to White’s Creek Cave, promising solitude and year-round natural splendor.

Additionally, the Big River in Bonne Terre and the Black River in Lesterville offer excellent floating opportunities. The Black River, in particular, is perfect for a family outing with its tubing and swimming spots at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. Whether you’re floating, hiking, or simply enjoying the water, these rivers and trails in Missouri provide an idyllic outdoor escape.
Elephant Rocks State Park, nestled in the Southeastern Missouri Region and located in Belleview, Missouri, is a unique natural attraction. Known for its massive granite boulders resembling a procession of circus elephants, the park offers a fascinating glimpse into geological history. These formations captivate visitors of all ages, from avid historians to curious youngsters. The accessible Braille Trail allows everyone, including those with visual and physical disabilities, to navigate through the main rock formations. An offshoot of the trail leads to the remnants of an old railroad engine house, echoing the area’s rich quarrying and railroading past. It’s the perfect spot for a family outing—pack a picnic and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Ozark Mountains.