Taum Sauk Mountain State Park by Keith Yahl / CC BY 2.0
Landscape photographers heading to Missouri can find plenty of beautiful nature, including in the Ozarks. There are scenic vistas, rushing water, rock formations, forests, caves, and more. On this page you’ll find a description of several noteworthy destinations in Missouri. The interactive map below shows the location of each spot mentioned on this page.
This page will continue to be a work in progress, so please feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions of great places to photograph.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park is about 60 miles southwest of Jefferson City. This park features 15 miles of hiking trails, caves, sink holes and natural bridges. The most recognizable feature of the park is the ruins of a stone mansion that lie within the park. The mansion was built in the early 1900s and destroyed by fire in 1942. The state purchased the land in 1978 and made it into a park. At Ha Ha Tonka you will find some great bluffs and overlooks that are perfect for photographing.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park by Heath Cajandig / CC BY 2.0
Elephant Rocks State Park
Elephant Rocks State Park in southeastern Missouri is a unique park. The park is named for a group of large boulders in the Saint Francois Mountains. The Braille Trail leads you to the boulders, and from there you can explore the formations. “Fat Man’s Squeeze” is a narrow gap between boulders that leads to an abandoned quarry. There is another trail that goes through “The Maze”, a section of scattered boulders.
Elephant Rocks State Park by Fredlyfish4 / CC BY-SA 3.0
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is just about 15 miles southwest of Elephant Rocks State Park. The “shut-ins” are areas where the river is confined in a deep, narrow channel. The rocks and cascading river make it a popular recreation area and a beautiful scene for photographing. A short, paved walkway leads to an observation deck over the shut-ins.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park by Keith Yahl / CC BY 2.0
Roaring River State Park
Roaring River State Park is located in southwestern Missouri, near the Arkansas state line. This park is very popular for fishing, but its scenery also makes it an excellent destination for photography. Several different trails allow you to explore the hills of the park to find some great views.
Roaring River State Park by Jeff Wease / CC BY 2.0
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park is adjacent to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. Taum Sauk Mountain is the highest point in Missouri and provides a view of the surrounding area, although in many places the view is obstructed by dense forest. A paved trail leads to the top. The park is also home to the highest waterfall in Missouri, Mina Sauk Falls. A 3-mile loop hike leads you to the waterfall. Mina Suak Falls is not much more than a trickle at some times, so it is best to visit after a heavy rain.
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park by Keith Yahl / CC BY 2.0
Onondaga Cave State Park
Onondaga Cave State Park is located in southern Missouri, about 80 miles southwest of Saint Louis. You can take a guided cave tour to get see a beautiful underground landscape. The park also manages the Vilander Bluff Natural Area, which is 7 miles away from the main part of the park. Vilander Bluff features beautiful cliffs and cedar forest.
Onondaga Cave State Park by Don Kasak / CC BY 2.0
Meramec State Park
Meramec State Park is about 20 miles northeast of Onondaga State Park. This park includes more than 40 caves, beautiful forests, and glades. You can hike one of the trails in the park or go on a cave tour to find your choice of photographic opportunities.
Meramec State Park by Good Free Photos / Public Domain
Sam A. Baker State Park
Sam A. Baker State Park in southeastern Missouri is about 70 miles south of Elephant Rocks State Park. The park provides access to the St. Francis River and Big Creek. One of the most noteworthy parts of this park is the 14-mile Mudlick Trail, which provides views of the Mudlick Mountain Wild Area.
Sam A. Baker State Park by Duke Newport Photography / CC BY 2.0
Missouri Botanical Garden
Missouri Botanical Garden in Saint Louis is a great place to photograph flowers and nature while still in a major city. Here you will find many different gardens, a hedge maze, and plenty of photographic opportunities.
Missouri Botanical Garden by Aaron Carlson / CC BY-SA 2.0
Montauk State Park
Montauk State Park in southern Missouri includes the headwaters of the Current River, as well as several different natural springs. The park is popular for fishing, but also features hiking trails that allow you to experience the scenic beauty.
Montauk State Park by Good Free Photos / Public Domain
Castlewood State Park
Castlewood State Park is located about 25 miles southwest of Saint Louis. Located along the Meramec River, this park offers overlooks, bluffs, and beautiful views from its hiking trails.
Castlewood State Park by Good Free Photos / Public Domain
Mark Twain National Forest
The Mark Twain National Forest covers more than 1.5 million acres in 29 different counties. With 750 miles of hiking trails there is plenty of exploring that can be done here. Due to the size of the forest it is important to plan ahead and know where you want to go. Some of the features include Greer Spring, Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, Hercules Fire Tower, and the Ozark Trail.
Mark Twain National Forest by Kbh3rd / CC BY-SA 3.0
The Gateway Arch is an iconic figure that is synonymous with Saint Louis. While you’re in Missouri take some time to photograph the arch and the Saint Louis skyline.
Gateway Arch by Daniel Schwen / CC BY-SA 4.0