How to find Missouri’s hidden parks and trails
The best places to go for outdoor adventures are almost always hidden in the shadows of Missouri state parks.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is working to open as many as 20 more parks in the next few years, and more will open in the coming years.
The state parks system includes state-owned lakes, wetlands, forests and parks, all within easy walking distance.
To find them, just Google Missouri.
“If you have a car, you’ll need to do some searching,” said Jeff Kollman, executive director of the park system.
“It’s not really a secret.
If you can find a place where you can drive to, you can park there.”
Kollmann said that parks are usually open late at night, so if you plan to be out on a Saturday night, you should make sure to find a park with an open-air seating area.
“The public has to be aware that you can’t park in the woods,” he said.
“They have to know you can walk into a forest, but that you have to stay out of the woods.”
He added that you’ll also want to take the time to research Missouri state park rules and regulations.
“Just because they’re not in your neighborhood, that doesn’t mean they’re bad,” he noted.
Kollmans advice is to park in designated public areas.
He suggested finding a park that has a designated parking lot and using that to set up your vehicle.
“I suggest you park in a spot that is well-lit and well-traversed,” he explained.
“You don’t want to be in a very small parking lot where there’s a lot of people.”
“If I’m driving, I’ll just park where I can see a tree, or I’ll park in an area where it’s easy to walk into the forest,” Kollmen said.
Some parks have designated parking lots.
In other cases, the state parks are open only to designated groups.
If there are no designated parking spaces, you’re best off checking out public parking in areas where it is available.
“There are places where it might be a bit difficult to find parking in a public place,” Kossman said.
He added, “The only thing I recommend is to drive to the nearest public parking area.”
To find the best places for a park, Kollers advice is the same for all parks.
“Go to the best area,” he advised.
“Find a spot where you’re going to park, or park in that area and make sure you’re in the right area.”
He suggested using public transportation.
“Use public transportation if you’re able to,” he suggested.
Kossmans advice to park is the one that should be followed.
“Park in a place that is easy to get to, where there are a lot people and there’s no traffic,” he stated.
“And don’t park where the trees are falling.
It’s a good idea to park a couple of feet behind the tree, but don’t put your car in the path of the tree.”
Kossmann said you’ll want to park at designated public places, but if you don’t, you could find yourself in trouble.
“Sometimes people think the park isn’t open, but it’s open,” he added.
“In some cases, it might not be open because of a snowstorm or something like that.
It might not even be open at all because of the weather.”
Kiskman said the state of Missouri is constantly working to improve its parks system.
In 2019, the park department said it opened an additional 13 parks and opened more than 400 new ones, including the three designated parks.
That was a record year for park opening.