Posted Jul. 25, 2016 at 7:25 PM
The new Echo Bluff State Park opens on Saturday, July 30, and offers the opportunity to explore all the scenic wonders of the Missouri Ozarks.
Gov. Jay Nixon will welcome visitors with remarks at 10 a.m., and is familiar with the area. His mother was a counselor at the old Camp Zoe, a children’s summer camp that operated in the secluded valley from 1929 to the 1980s.
The picturesque spot along Sinking Creek, which runs below the concave bluff that is the park’s namesake on its way to the Current River, has been drawing visitors for decades, but now is open to the public as Missouri’s 88th state park.
Nixon said visitors to the park will find “an immense treasure in Echo Bluff that will be preserved for generations to come.”
The park is off Highway 19, about halfway between Salem and Eminence. It is in the heart of the Ozarks, with conservation areas, national forest and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways nearby. The latter is a national park that preserves the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, two of America’s premier float streams.
Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, said Echo Bluff is the perfect spot for a family vacation with Rocky Falls, Alley Spring Mill, Blue Spring and Peck Ranch Conservation Area among the many destinations within an hour’s drive of the park.
“They will find a peaceful escape where they can have as big an Ozark adventure as they want to make,” Bryan said. “This is a base camp for the unchartered Ozarks.
“Families and couples will have a great place to stay while they explore Rocky Falls, Peck Ranch, the mills and everything that up to now has been hard to reach.”
The Ozarks, with its bounty of spring-fed rivers, has long been a popular spot for floating on summer weekends. Echo Bluff, which will be open year round, encourages visitors to enjoy the other seasons, especially spring, when the redbuds and dogwoods are blooming, and fall, when the forests glow in autumn colors.
“Echo Bluff was designed and built for people to enjoy the Ozarks every day of the year,” Bryan said. “Our guests will find that there’s a lot more to see and do than simply float the Current on a Saturday in July.”
By Tom Uhlenbrock, Missouri State Parks