Whether you’re an avid walker, or simply like seeing a variety of environs when you travel, national parks offer a unique opportunity to experience natural areas as they once were. They’re especially good for those on longer trips who need peaceful places to spend their time, or for parents traveling with young kids who have boundless energy. Considering the national parks in your next travel destination, be it St Louis or elsewhere, can help ensure that you have plenty of breaks on your trip.
This massive natural space is a stone's throw away from the luxury hotels in St Louis and is home to all kinds of environs and facilities promoting the protection and preservation of flora and fauna. There is something for everyone here, including:
- The St Louis Zoological Park, a nationally-acclaimed zoo
- The Jewel Box, a glasshouse garden
- Always Animals, the largest sculpture in any public zoo in the US
- Various themed playgrounds, such as the Turtle Playground with turtle sculptures and the Nature Playscape which is a natural playground
Beyond this, there’s also 4 museums, art galleries, spaces for performing arts, and so much more. Forest Park is a must-see for everybody visiting St Louis.
Creve Coeur Lake Park
Hosting the biggest oxbow lake in Missouri, the Creve Couer Lake Park is also the biggest national park in St Louis County. Perfect for water-based activities such as boat races, paddle boarding, and rowing competitions, it’s also located quite handy to St Louis and can make for the perfect day trip.
Mastodon State Park
Also known as the Kimmswick Bone Bed, this one's for fans of paleontology as this site has the first solid evidence of the coexistence of humans and the American mastodon in eastern North America. There are plenty of hiking trails that run through the park, with information planted around in convenient locations, and a creek that runs through the middle perfect for wading in on those particularly hot days.
LaBarque Creek Conservation Area
If you’re more into the geological side of nature, then the LaBarque Creek Conservation Area will be right up your alley. Wet-weather waterfalls and unique sandstone formations are the highlights of this park, although you may also bear witness to the 40 breeding bird species or over 400 native plant species.
Hawn State Park
Orchids and birds seem to be nature's most creative expressions, and they are the defining features of the Hawn State Park. Expect expansive views, plenty of opportunity for bird-watching, and wild orchids to take your breath away while you explore this state park only an hour out of St Louis.
The Castor River Shut-Ins
With 1.5 billion-year-old pink granite shut-ins decorating this river, this is another paradise for fans of geology. It’s also a local-favorite spot for fishing, with shadow bass and sunfish free for the taking year-round, and black bass having their own season. People regularly report being the only one they see there, so be sure to check this out if you’re a fan of privacy and peace.
Bonne Terre Mine
Once upon a time, this mine produced the world’s largest supply of lead ore, nowadays it’s better known as the world’s largest freshwater diver resort. With depths of 40-60 feet and year-round water temperatures of 58 degrees, there are always dive tours ready to take you to the freshest depths.
While it is 3 hours from the luxury hotels in St Louis, the trip is always reported as worth it by those who venture out to see the Alley Spring. The seventh-largest spring in Missouri, Alley Spring’s conduit goes 3000 feet into the earth, expelling fresh water at a brisk 58 degrees year-round (like the mine). You’ll find a range of water-based activities here, including canoeing, tubing, swimming, fishing, and also the chance to ride a horse around the beautiful area.
These aren’t the only natural wonders in and around St Louis, there’s plenty more to see and do when you ask around. Be sure to contribute to all local efforts to preserve local wildlife if you’d like to see more of it, and of course, enjoy.