As a forested hideaway, nestled in a valley surrounded by towering bluffs, unspoiled woods and the popular Sinking Creek, Echo Bluffs State Park located near Eminence, Mo., could be considered the best-kept secret in the Ozarks.
Missouri State Parks officials bought the property in 2013, and under the direction of Gov. Jay Nixon, Echo Bluffs State Park was born. The 330-acre park has more than four miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. The Current River Trail adds another eight miles, with the adjacent 64,000-acre Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry offering 30 more.
The Betty Lea Lodge, named after Gov. Nixon’s mother, features 16 guest rooms and four suites. The Creekside Grill offers American cuisine, and is the perfect place for relaxing with a glass of local wine or an artisan beer after a day of outdoor activities.
The Timbuktu Campground has 60 full-service sites for recreational vehicles and 22 walk-ins for tent campers.
Steps away from the lodge is Sinking Creek, which is a stream perfect for wading and relaxing, but deep enough in spots for swimming and snorkeling. Float trips are available from nearby outfitters, and guests can experience Sinking Creek and the Current River by canoe, kayak, paddleboard or tubes.
A herd of wild horses roams the lands surrounding the Current and Jack’s Fork Rivers, and lucky visitors get chances to see them.
“We’re out in the middle of nowhere, and if you want a nice facility with the amenities of the city, this is the place to come and unwind,” says Stefan Mendes, general manager for Guest Services, Inc., who manages the park.
“If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, this is definitely the place to be,” adds Jo Small, sales manager who handles weddings, family reunions and corporate events.
For Echo Bluffs information, call 855.999.6980 or visit EchoBluffStatePark.com.