It's always more fun when the pavement ends.
Our region has more than its fair share of natural beauty and historic sites. No, really, I'm not kidding. The catch is that many of these places are not well-known and require some work to find. Glossy tourist brochures mention such attractions as Bollinger Mill, Elephant Rocks, and Ste. Genevieve, but they leave out some of the more interesting destinations near Cape Girardeau.
If you aren't scared by driving directions that involve the phrase, "Turn off the paved road," then you've come to the right place.
On this blog, I'll feature some of the more obscure places to visit in Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, and beyond. I'll try to give detailed driving and hiking directions so that you don't get lost in the middle of nowhere in Bollinger County, but I'm not making any guarantees.
The bad news is that daytrips are getting more and more expensive with the increase in gas prices. The good news is that many of these destinations aren't that far from Cape Girardeau, and most are on public land that doesn't cost anything to enter. My philosophy is simple: We already pay taxes to support conservation areas, national forests, and other parks; we might as well get our money's worth by visiting often.
In future posts, I'll show how you can:
* Drive on portions of the oldest pioneer road in Missouri.
* Explore the world's largest sand boil.
* Walk around a cypress swamp at the top of a mountain.
* Cruise down some of the oldest concrete pavement in Missouri.
* Visit a ghost town in Illinois that was intended as a replacement for Washington, D.C.
* Experience first-hand the meaning of the word gephyrophobia.
* Climb to the top of a toxic waste dump -- legally.
* Hike to some of the more impressive natural arches east of the Rocky Mountains.
I've got waterfalls, Civil War fortifications, shut-ins, canyons, tunnels (man-made and natural), Native American petroglyphs, sinkholes, historic cemeteries, ghost towns, bridges, scenic drives, old mining operations, panoramic overlooks, springs, swamps, rock formations, old railroad grades, engineering marvels, and more.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. What's your favorite obscure place to visit around here? Post your suggestions below.