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.
Part of the benefit of this little “exercise,” highlighting state parks we’ve visited with the kids, is that there’s always one I’ve somehow missed that I should have mentioned before, and it turns out, Bennett Spring State Park is another such example. Thankfully, we didn’t visit this park that long ago, but it was still mid-August 2022, as we were heading on a float trip with the kids for the first time (which I also never blogged about. Oops.). As part of the trip, we hit Bennett Spring on the way down to go floating on the Niangua River and stay in a cabin for the night, which was a nice little getaway before school started.
Regardless, Bennett Spring State Park has a few things going on, but it’s primary “claim to fame” is the start of trout fishing each year. This year, over 1600 people showed up the weekend of March 1st to go fishing, so it ends up being a pretty big draw for that crowd.
Thankfully, those of us that don’t do much trout fishing still had a few other things to see. Bear in mind that we were heading down to go “glamping” in a cabin (with A/C, no less…because it was mid-August in Missouri…), so we didn’t have a ton of time to explore everything the park had to offer, but we did get to check out the interpretive center they had.
Honestly, we were pretty impressed by the extent of the exhibits! I don’t know if it was a combination of funding for making a destination for semi-local schools, or if it was an excuse to entertain kids while their parents went fishing, but there were tables set up in an open space for instructors to talk to kids about local flora and fauna; there were displays talking about springs across the Ozarks (pictured above, obvi), and a lot of cool models of animals and insects endemic to the region.
We ended up killing a remarkable amount of time checking out all of the exhibits in the area, especially the large insect models that Calvin was quite interested in. He’d already heard/read about some of the species we could find in the park, but seeing them enlarged to 1000x was pretty cool for him. Meg and Brooke mostly read through some of the signs, but still got a lot out of the nature center.
Again, we didn’t actually camp at the park, but there are quite a few options available, including tent camping, group sites, and cabins. A substantial amount of the focus is on fishing, so we suspect this park gets especially busy during the trout season, perhaps making it a little less “isolated” than some of the other state parks, depending on what your desire is. I could see it being more “busy” than we’d really want to deal with, but then again, you can’t argue with the fishing opportunities if that’s your thing.
There are a few hiking trails along the State Park, most of which are less than a mile long. They do have a 7.5 mi Natural Bridge trail that runs in a loop through the park, but after the drive down there, we weren’t going to get the kids to go along on that kind of thing. It didn’t seem all that hilly in the area, so I suspect the trails aren’t too bad for most people, but in mid-August in Missouri, the bugs and spiderwebs weren’t particularly fun, so I’d recommend hitting those earlier in the year than when we attended.
Bennett Spring seems alright, but it clearly has a focus on fishing! Maybe when the kids are more grown up and I decide to get into trout fishing, we’ll go back and check it out further. For what it was, it seemed pretty good!