Climb Among the Giants at Missouri’s Elephant Rocks State Park
Elephant Rocks State Park is one of the most scenic and fun state parks in all of Missouri. This family friendly park features scenic views, rugged landscape to explore, and short and easy hikes for all ages.
The park gets its name from the unique and massive granite boulders that stand on end like a train of circus elephants. The largest of these boulders, known as “Dumbo” is estimated to weight 680 tons!
The oldest commercial granite quarry in the state operated here starting in 1869. The high quality rock quarried here was used in building homes and buildings throughout the country including part of the stone used on the Eads Bridge in downtown St. Louis. Less quality blocks were used for paving streets.
Now that the quarry history is past, the park service has developed a scenic park with two easy trails great for kids. The Braille Trail is just under a mile long. It is paved and provides interpretive Braille stations. Along the way, the trail passes several side paths that lead to the largest “elephants” of the park and a nice overlook.
There are several small spurs of the main trail including the second official park trail, the Engine House Ruins Trail. This dirt but mostly level path is 0.4 miles long and leads past the ruins of an engine house that serviced the train cars that once departed by rail from the site carrying the granite blocks to places far and wide. This trail also circles around the back side of the old quarry which has now become a small lake.
Kids could spend hours climbing up, over, and through the maze of rocks. Luckily, since the park is pretty small it’s pretty hard to get lost. While some caution is needed climbing on the taller of the rocks and near the quarry lake, for the most part there are few steep drop offs.
If your kids still have energy left over, there is a nice little playground as well. The whole park is mostly shaded which is welcome relief on a hot day. Numerous picnic tables are located here as well and make a perfect lunch stop.
Anytime we are in the area, we always make a stop at the Old Time Mercantile in Caledonia. A short drive from Elephant Rocks, this is the perfect stop before or after a hike for a coffee, ice cream, cookies, or take your pick of the huge assortment of candy. The store dates to 1909 and also sells unique antiques and other goods both new and old. Make sure to stop in!
If you are looking for a full meal, we also recommend the Arcadia Valley Academy. The entire grounds and buildings are both historic and beautiful. They also make amazing meals from scratch including homemade bread.
April through October November through March
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
More info and maps can be found HERE.
Other recommended hikes in the area include Johnson’s Shut Ins(One of our past hikes), Taum Sauk Mountain(Our hike), Ketcherside Mountain Area/Royal Gorge(Our hike), and Hughes Mountain Area(Our hike).