Royal Gorge

North of Arcadia and only a few miles from the highest point in Missouri, Royal Gorge sits just off the side of the road. Its history is both ancient, on the order of 1.5 billion years old volcanic rock — and more recent, with a giant stone and mortar wall constructed during the Great Depression which still supports the roadway. Designated a natural area in 1973, the shut-ins and towering rhyolite outcroppings above Minor Creek are magnificent.

Little Rock Creek Shut-in

Little Rock Creek Shut-in is a spectacular formation of lichen covered boulders, straight edge rhyolite chutes and turquoise plunge pools. At the southern base of Black Mountain, this shut-in's proximity to the road should be ignored. Its considerable beauty, coupled with the sounds of falling water drown out even the loudest passerby.

Shut-in Creek

Bell Mountain is one of the most popular backpacking destinations in the state. It's rock fortress towers above a deep chasm with sweeping views to the east which make for a stunning sunrise. Shut-in creek below flows through some of the most rugged backcountry in the state. It's a 600 foot loss in elevation to reach the bottom in a little over 1/3 of a mile. The opposite bank is a near mirror image to the crest of Lindsey Mountain.

James Creek Tributary Shut-in

Located in an eastern drainage of Johnson Mountain this shut-in is undoubtedly named to avoid confusion with the renowned Johnson Shut-ins. In heavy rainfall this tumbling creek cascades over a boulder strewn path before entering a canyon-like ravine. Sheer granite walls rise on both sides of a narrow channel choked with the canopies of American Sycamores. Their white branches of papery bark contrasting with the black rock is truly magnificent.

Rock Pile Mountain Shut-in

Rockpile Mountain is the smallest of Missouri’s eight designated wilderness areas. With only two miles of maintained trail, exploring its 4,238 acres is entirely cross-country. Old road traces are still easy enough to follow along most of the ridge lines, though none are marked. The cairn-like stacked rocks of its namesake tend to draw the attention of most visitors.