Our region has many colorful placenames: Elephant Rocks, Stony Battery, Hanging Dog Island, Ghost Dance Canyon, Devils Tollgate, and even Monkeys Eyebrow. Sometimes, however, the best names are the most simple.
Big Spring, for instance, reveals everything you need to know: it's a big spring. It's so big it doesn't need a flowery name.
Rocky Falls in Shannon County is the same way. It's a waterfall over a rocky hillside. It lives up to its simple name:
The appropriately-named Rocky Creek encounters a steep hillside of solid rock, sending the water cascading into a plunge pool below:
It's too steep to be a classic shut-ins, but not steep enough to be a classic waterfall.
Nevertheless, it's no surprise that Rocky Falls is a popular swimmin' hole in the summer.
Above the falls, Rocky Creek travels through a narrow canyon with plenty of boulders along the way.
If you squint your eyes, you can almost pretend this is Colorado or New Mexico. The wild cactus growing here adds to the illusion:
Another shut-ins is reportedly located a couple miles downstream next to the abandoned Klepzig Mill. Thanks to the hot weather and wildly conflicting driving directions, I decided to give the old mill a pass. However, I did stumble across a beautiful landing along the Current River:
Dirt roads and trails seemed to lead in every direction. Topographic maps show some interesting placenames nearby, such as Buttin Rock, Slick Rock Hollow, and Pole Bridge Hollow, all part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. It looks like I have plenty of reasons to go back again when the weather improves.
Rocky Falls is located between Eminence and Van Buren, a good 3+ hour drive from Cape Girardeau. [See Google map]
From Cape, you can either take I-55 to Sikeston and then US 60 to Van Buren (the boring but easy route), or take Highway 34 west through Piedmont to Van Buren (the scenic but difficult route). From Van Buren, follow US 60 west to Winona and make a right on Highway 19 north. Before leaving Winona, turn right on Route H and follow it 8.5 miles to the turnoff for Route NN. Take Route NN east for 2 miles and keep your eyes peeled for the Rocky Falls turnoff on the right. The turn is easy to miss, as it's located at the bottom of a hill and sharp curve.
The driving directions for reaching Klepzig Mill vary between sources. From what I can tell, the best route is to take Route NN to the end of the pavement, and then turn left on the gravel road (County Road NN-522). This road reportedly passes near the mill, but I can't make any guarantees.