This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.
The final State Park we hit on our “Staycation 2020” trip this past Summer was Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. Technically, this was Meg and my second trip, as we stopped by there (and Elephant Rocks) in the Spring of 2019 during a visit with my college, but this was our first trip as a family. This place is formed as part of the Black River, and features a shallow portion where kids can play in, as well as deeper portions where bigger folks can float around. There are also plenty of rocks to climb on (carefully!), as well as water falls that you can interact with if you want to (as in, climb down there, get underneath them, and more).
The State Park has camping available, as well as a pretty new visitor center. Normally we would have visited their offerings, but as part of the pandemic, we wanted to isolate ourselves as much as possible.
Speaking of which, there were way too many people there that day! We had waited until Sunday afternoon to go, thinking that folks from St. Louis would be heading home, but apparently….not. Frankly, we were pretty disappointed with the experience when we went. We know it can be fun to go, but we had to park about a mile away and walk. Because of that, we couldn’t really take much stuff with us, and even the stuff we could take didn’t include water bottles, aluminum cans, food, etc.
Still, after the kids were done complaining about having to walk so far, they had fun floating in the Black River, letting the flow of the river take them over short distances, and trying to find fish under rocks. It was less fun for Brooke and I because the areas more appropriate for larger people (i.e. adults) were populated by way too many people, so we didn’t venture far from the areas where younger kids can hang out.
Next time we visit, we will be able to plan it out more effectively. Also, we will get there earlier in the day so we can leave food at the car and go back and forth when we need something. Obviously, by the time we make it back there, the kids will be older too (and there won’t be a pandemic….hopefully….), so we won’t have to keep an eye on them quite as carefully. It was a disappointing visit, for sure, but we know it’s a cool place normally. It just wasn’t “normal” this time!