101 Fun Things To Do: Plenty of chances for nature lovers to have a good time

Thursday, March 31, 2011

1. Trail of Tears State Park in Cape Girardeau County. The 3,415-acre park is a memorial to the Cherokee Indians who lost their lives in a forced relocation, as well as a place for visitors to participate in a variety of outdoor adventures including hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing and picnicking.

Current River

2. float the current river, Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Van Buren, Mo. The river is a great way to cool off on a summer day. Visitors can tube or canoe this crystal-clear river through some of Southeast Missouri's most scenic land.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

3. Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Puxico, Mo., was established in 1944 as a resting and wintering area for migratory waterfowl and other birds. The 21,592-acre refuge contains approximately 15,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, 3,500 acres of marsh and water, 506 acres of cropland, 704 acres of seasonally flooded impoundments and 474 acres of grassy openings.

4. Lake Wappapello State Park in Williamsville, Mo. The 1,854-acre state park offers camping, fishing, lodging, picnicking, swimming and hiking, equestrian, mountain biking and backpacking trails.

5. Cape La Croix RECREATION Trail runs throughout Cape Girardeau, beginning near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Kingshighway, and is great for walking and biking.

6. Mississippi River Valley SCENIC DRIVE through rural communities of Southeast Missouri. Good food, folk music, crafts, good food, camping, living history, museum tours, good food and the beauty of the Missouri countryside are all part of this self-conducted driving tour set for Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1.

7. Land between the lakes at Golden Pond, Ky., offers biking, camping and other forms of recreation, as well as an elk and bison prairie and a planetarium.

8. Tower Rock in Perry County is a majestic landmark of limestone rock that towers more than 90 feet above the Mississippi River bed. The water is turbulent as it passes around the rock, which has prompted centuries of legends and the respect and fear of rivermen.

9. Otter Slough, along Route ZZ in Stoddard County, has 4,866 acres managed primarily for species associated with wetlands. Migratory waterfowl, herons, egrets and many kinds of shorebirds are found here. Also seen at Otter Slough are mink, otter and other water-loving animals.

10. Fish for trout at Rotary Lake. During the winter, the city of Jackson stocks the lake and allows the public to enjoy trout fishing. Great excuse to spend time outdoors, even during the colder months.

11. JOHNSON'S SHUT-INS STATE PARK in Reynolds County, from Highway 21 to Route N; eight miles north of Lesterville, Mo. Johnson's Shut-Ins Campground, set in the Goggins Mountain area of the park, reopened in April 2010 after its destruction in a 2005 flood. The new campground includes basic electric, sewer/electric/water, equestrian and walk-in campsites, and camper cabins. The Black River Center, built in the day-use area of the park, opened in May 2010, and features interpretive exhibits, meeting rooms and a small retail area.

12. Ben Cash Conservation Area in Dunklin County is a 1,300-acre wildlife area on the St. Francis River, and is one of the few remaining vestiges of bottomland hardwood trees. It also contains an extremely diversified floral community.

13. BIG SPRING NATIONAL PARK, three miles outside Van Buren, Mo., is the largest spring in the state, and one of the largest in the world. On an average day, some 278 million gallons of water gush forth from subterranean passages, swelling the nearby Current River.

14. The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center at 2289 County Park Drive, Cape Girardeau, showcases the rich cultural history and diverse natural resources of Southeast Missouri. Indoors, the nature center features hands-on exhibits for all ages, including the Corbin Collection of American Indian artifacts, freshwater aquariums, wildlife viewing areas, classrooms and an auditorium. Outdoors, explore the White Oak Trace, which has two miles of trails winding through stands of poplar and oak trees, sinkholes and a small man-made swamp.

15. Located in Dunklin County near Kennett, Mo., the 1,066 acres at Little River Conservation Area provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. The wetlands attract many migratory birds, making it great for birdwatching and photography.

16. Peck Ranch Conservation Area is in northwest Carter County and eastern Shannon County, north of Fremont, Mo. The area consists of 23,048 acres of rugged, forested hills and hollows.

Artesian Well

17. The Artesian wells in Bollinger County spew fresh water throughout the year. They're in the Mark Twain National Forest near Marquand and next to Highway 34, just to the west of Woodland School between Marble Hill and Glenallen.

18. Explore the beautiful cave formations and the silent beauty of the underground world at Round Spring Cavern in Eminence, Mo.

19. Bonne Terre Mine, a national historic site in Bonne Terre, Mo., is the world's largest freshwater dive resort. The mine is listed as one of America's Top 10 Greatest Adventures by National Geographic. Boat tours and walking tours are available.

20. Tunnel hill state trail, extending from Harrisburg to Karmak, Ill., follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way dating to 1872. Scenery along the bike trail ranges from flat farmland and lush wetlands to the dense Shawnee National Forest, and is home to countless species of wildlife and wildflowers. The trail even includes 23 trestles and a 543-foot tunnel.

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