Last winter, I found a population of armadillos at Seventy-Six Conservation Area in Perry County. The little varmints were out in the open trying to find food during the harsh winter.
This winter has been harsh, as well. I found another hungry armadillo at Red Rock Landing Conservation Area, just up the river from Seventy-Six. While the climate in Missouri isn't very favorable for armadillos, they seem to be thriving in Perry County, perhaps taking advantage of the many sinkholes to find warm shelter.
The darn things are just so cute, rummaging through the brush for food and standing on their hinds legs when they sense danger. They soon forget about the danger, though, and go back to foraging, completely oblivious to everything.
Red Rock Landing offers more than just the chance to see 'dillos. The conservation area has hiking trails, fishing access, and panoramic views of the Mississippi River. The only thing I didn't find was, strangely enough, red rocks.
From the parking area, a muddy trail leads across the railroad tracks and to the river's edge.
The best river views, however, can be found by climbing into the hills. To the north, the Mississippi makes a sweeping curve.
Off to the left, the flat Missouri floodplain stretches to the northwest.
While more difficult to reach, this vantage point is almost as impressive as the overlook at Trail of Tears State Park. And it might include a bonus appearance of an armadillo.
[Google map] [Conservation area PDF map]
From Cape Girardeau, take I-55 north to the Fruitland exit (#105) and then turn right on US 61 north. Continue through Fruitland, Old Appleton, and Uniontown. Just before reaching Longtown, turn right on Route D. Then make a left on Route U. At the T-junction with Route C, turn left and drive north to Crosstown.
In the middle of Crosstown, turn right on Perry County Road 350 (it's easy to miss). This road goes 4 miles to the conservation area. The first three miles are paved (barely). Watch out for the low-water crossing of Omete Creek; it's impassable when the Mississippi River reaches 20 feet on the Chester gauge. Follow the road until it ends at the parking area and campsite.
Be sure to print a copy of the area map which shows the hiking trails and property boundaries.