Day 185: Wild Horses And The Shut-Ins


time of year

Round Spring, Newton Township, MO. A short paved walk takes you to the spring. On an average day more than 26 million gallons of water flow from Round Spring. For thousands of years, the cool clear waters of Round Spring have attracted people and wildlife. Archeologists have found evidence that, as early as 10,000 years ago, native peoples lived and worked around the spring. In the nineteenth century, Europeans began to settle in the Current River Valley.Round Spring became one of Missouri’s first state parks in 1924.

A small herd of about 35 free roaming horses frequents this area. They are believed to be descended from animals released during the depression by owners that were unable to feed them. While they may appear tame, they are not. They are powerful and unpredictable animals. Do not approach or attempt to feed them. Enjoy them from a distance.

There’s also a cool looking cave that we’d like to come back and see. Park Rangers conduct two hour lantern tours for the public of this beautiful natural cavern. These somewhat strenuous “underground hikes” are limited to the first 15 people. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a jacket or sweater, as it is cool in the cave. Tours are offered daily, at 10:00, noon and 2:00, during the summer months. To help control the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a disease that is killing bats but is harmless to people, they ask you to please NOT wear or bring anything into the cave that you have taken into other caves. This includes cameras, belts, footwear, etc.


Blue Spring, Ellington, MO. An easy 1/2 mile trail brings you to the Blue Spring.

At 310’ it’s the deepest spring in the state and contributes a staggering 90 million gallons of water daily to the Current River. Blue Spring ranks 6th largest in the state of Missouri and, due to its depth

and mineral content, it displays a vivid deep blue color, the deepest blue of any spring in Missouri.

Early surveyors tried to measure the spring by tying an anvil to a rope and lowering it down into the spring’s depths. At a certain point, pressure caused the anvil to hover rather than sink further, so surveyors kept feeding vast amounts of rope and concluded the spring was bottomless.

The 17-acre area around the spring is designated as a Missouri Natural Area for its outstanding biodiversity and aesthetic beauty.

The 2.5 mile gravel road is quite steep at points and may be difficult to navigate in some vehicles in slick conditions.


difficulty: 0.5

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, Middle Brook, MO.

Scour Trail (2 mile loop, 177’ elevation) was nice, there are a couple of overlooks of the valley below.

Horseshoe Glade (1.7 mile loop, 275’ elevation) showed the areas ecosystem well and lead to an outcropping of rocks where you get a pretty view of the mountains and valley below.

The real gem of the park, and where everyone flocks to, is the Shut-In rocks in the river, that you can reach from a boardwalk about 0.3 miles long. “Shut-in” is a term for a narrow constriction, or gorge, in a stream. In this case they are made of hard, volcanic bedrock. They are excellent for climbing on.


difficulty: 3

Super 8 by Wyndham, Farmington, MO. Very comfortable bed, we slept well.

Price: $103/night


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