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“A natural water park, stunning”

Johnson's Shut-ins State Park
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Play in the shallows of the East Fork of the Black River. Shoot through Mother Nature’s hydraulics in the shut-ins. Hike a trail that will show you 1.4 billion years of geologic history. Take your horse on a pretty mountain trail. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is a jewel of the system, a place with something for everyone: pretty picnic areas, Ozark landscapes, natural places to swim, great campsites.
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“A natural water park, stunning”
Reviewed September 11, 2011

I think Johnson's Shut-Ins has a plain name as part of a conspiracy to keep crowds from flocking there. In Missouri, a shut-in is a place where a river flows through or beside granite cliffs. In this case, the granite also forms the bed of the Black River, and is sculpted into all sorts of natural Jacuzzis, whirlpools, and chutes. At the base of the shut-ins is a wide pool, full of clear water and some fish.

The place was wrecked in 2005 when a reservoir at the top of a nearby mountain gave way and a zillion gallons of water plunged through the park. Miraculously no one was killed, but the shut-ins were filled with boulders and uprooted trees to a considerable depth. However, the electric company responsible for the accident has cleaned up the park now, and the natural water park is restored to its previous state. Except that there aren't as many fish in the lower pool, which isn't as deep as it once was.

It's about 2 1/2 hours southwest of St. Louis, in the Arcadia valley.

Visited August 2011
2 Thank phylliswheeler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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199 reviews from our community

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English first
Rochester, Michigan
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Super fun and free!”
Reviewed July 30, 2011

If you like to climb and get wet, this is the spot for you! This beautiful and unique state park offers a lovely office with a small museum describing the area. Follow a long wooden boardwalk to the river. Just find a path and start meandering through the rock formations. I was able to travel the whole distance without getting more than my feet wet, but the kids (10-15) had more fun walking/swimming/jumping in the water. Note: Water shoes are a must, because the rocks can be slippery and may be tough on your feet. No plastic bottles allowed.

Visited July 2011
Thank forwhite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
De Soto, Missouri
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“A perfection combination of relaxation and adventure!”
Reviewed July 28, 2011

We really love Johnson's Shut-Ins and we go a couple times a year. Even when there are a lot of people it's not too crowded because there's so much space. We are a family of 6 with four kids ages 7, 5, 3, and 18 months. We like to start on one end and work our way down the river, relaxing when we get to the end in the calm water. We take lots of breaks to sit in a rapid and slide down the rocks. It's not too hard to navigate through, I think almost anyone can do it. We see people of all ages. Obviously, our youngest can't do it himself, so I just wear him in a carrier while we hike over the jagged rocks. The other kids can do it most of the way with a little bit of help. Some advice: Don't wear flip flops! We made that mistake our first time. :) You're definitely going to need some kind of water shoes, the heavier duty the better. Keens are great. They sell water shoes at the entrance of the trail to get to the river for about $10 but they're really cheaply made and not very durable. Also, don't bring a lot of stuff down to the river with you because you're going to have to carry everything and it's really inconvenient. They won't let you bring disposable bottles of any kind either. So we like to bring one small backpack with a couple refillable bottles of water and anything we want to keep dry (Sunscreen, towels, etc.) in Zip-Lock bags inside our backpack because the bag WILL get wet. ;) This is a wonderful place to come with a family, friends, or alone. It is easy to enjoy nature around you while you're here and we always feel rejuvenated when we leave.

Visited May 2011
7 Thank 70toes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Des Moines, Iowa
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Amazing, fun, natural water park”
Reviewed July 27, 2011

The shut-ins are about 1 1/2 hours SW of St. Louis in beautiful, gently rolling, forrested terrain. The Black Mountain River flows through a series of large basalt upthrusts causing water fall after waterfall. First the water cascades over low rocks, then forms an upper swimming hole great for small children or anyone who just wants to float and laze away the day. Then the river narrows, intensifying the current and flows over much larger rocks causing the waterfalls. These are falls you can climb on, slide through and jump into. There are so many you can even choose your favorite and hang out in your own natural, private jaccuzi. Next comes another swimming hole, much deeper than the first, then a swift channel that opens into yet another swimming area. The water is crystal clear and cool not cold. I've visited the shut-ins twice and loved it both times. I want it in my backyard instead of 8 hours away! In 2005 a dam burst in the area causing widespread damage to the campground and picnic areas. The shut-ins themselves were not affected except to illicit new walkways/trails. When the state rebuilt they moved the campground down the road a little for safety reasons. This is unfortunate for one could walk from the campground to the shut-ins previously, now you have to drive. However, many people I talked with love the new campground. We stayed in one of the brand new camping cabins, for $75/night. It had many amenities but no water or bathroom, though these were close by. We attended a fun and informative ranger program at night. Have you ever gone shining for spiders?
The short trail to the shut-ins is level and paved and has great views, however, to actually get in the water one must walk on rocks. No disposable containers and no food are allowed on the trail to the shut-ins. You may take in reusable drinking containers for water. We encountered people of all ages taking to the water with teenagers being the most adventurous ie jumping off high rocks. Wear water shoes of some type, no flip flops.
While in the area make sure you visit Elephant Rock State Park as well. It's only 12 miles away and wonderful in a totally different way.

Visited July 2011
5 Thank nowdsm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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