and water meet
Royal Gorge Natural Area
The St. Francois
Mountains in southeast Missouri are believed to be some of the oldest
mountains in the eastern United States and feature many interesting
geologic sites. One of the most interesting parts of the St. Francois
Mountains is contained in Iron County which boasts the highest spot
in the state at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park as well as Elephant Rocks
One often overlooked
spot is Royal Gorge Natural Area south of Arcadia on Highway 21. The
natural area features a canyon-like shut-in along the highway (cover
photo). A shut-in is a spot where over millions of years a river cuts
its way through resistant igneous rock, which is the basic material
the St. Francois Mountains are made of.
At the point where the shut-in passes alongside Highway 21, motorists
will see a beautiful wall constructed of granite stones built there
by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression (photo left).
The Highway Department maintains a scenic overlook and parking pullout
for motorists to view Royal Gorge. To visit the gorge drive 4 miles
south of Arcadia on Highway 21.
Also located in the St. Francois Mountains are two more of Missouris
state park gems Sam A. Baker and Johnson Shut-ins state parks.
And if youre interested in Missouri history Ironton is home to
Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic site.
Missouris state parks and historic sites are maintained by the
Missouri Department of Natural Resources. For more information visit
DNR on line at www.mostateparks.com
or call 1-800-334-6946.