As I've mentioned in previous blogs (here, here, and here), Maintz Wildlife Preserve is an excellent place to photograph sunflowers. Missouri can do sunflowers just as well as Kansas.
This year offers the best display I've seen so far, with a large sunflower field planted just a short distance from a convenient parking lot. When I visited two weeks ago, the sunflowers hadn't bloomed yet, but they were in full display during my visit on July 14.
An article from last year in Missouri Conservationist magazine explained the purpose of the sunflowers: "Each year MDC plants several fields of sunflowers to attract flocks of doves during their fall migration. Dove hunting can be very good during the first few weeks of the statewide dove season, which begins Sept. 1."
In previous years, the sunflowers had already bloomed and peaked by mid-July, leaving many of the heads past their prime and drooping. That's not the case this year, with the peak just now arriving. Get out and enjoy the sunflowers while you can.
From Cape Girardeau, take Highway 72 through Jackson toward Millersville. Just before reaching Millersville, turn right on Route B. After two miles, turn left on Route BB near the water tower. Go one mile and look for County Road 471 on the right. Follow CR 471, a gravel road, to the first parking area on the left. This lot is shown as Parking Lot #5 on the Conservation Area map.
Alternate route: Take Interstate 55 north to the Oak Ridge exit, then turn left on Route E. Follow this highway through Oak Ridge. Make a sharp left at the T-junction with Route D, then turn right on County Road 472. Continue on this paved road to the intersection with CR 471, then turn left. Look for the second parking area on the right.
At the parking lot, look for the sunflower field a short distance to the right (north). It's necessary to walk through a patch of tall grass to get there.
The sunflower fields are planted in different locations each year, but they can usually be found close to County Road 471 near Parking Lot #4 or #5.