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“Great way to spend the day”

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.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 5 Contributor
92 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Great way to spend the day”
Reviewed July 18, 2013

If you have very little kids this might not be a good place to spend time. You will be scrambling over lots of rocks, large and small and you need to be sure footed. If your kids are larger they will love this place.

I recommend arriving in the morning, when we were leaving at just before 2 there was a line of people waiting with their cars to get it. They do limit the number of cars allowed in to keep crowding in check. Bring a lunch and leave it in the car. Head down to play in the water, come up for a break midday in the shade, then head back down for a bit. There are deep and shallow areas, places where kids can jump off the rocks into deeper water, and lots of crags to explore.

I wore water shoes and I wish I had just worn old gym shoes with thicker soles as the rocks were sometimes uncomfortable under my feet. Don't even think of going barefoot as it's too slippery. Use caution and keep an eye on your kids, this is a wild area and no lifeguards are on duty.

Visited July 2013
Thank Stephanie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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198 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“What took me so long??!!”
Reviewed July 18, 2013

When I was in high school in U. City, MO my friends and siblings would always rave about this place. But for some unknown reason, I never went. It took my 40th high school reunion and a desire to take the back roads back home to Oklahoma that made me finally visit (and swim) at the shut-ins!! Now, we went on a Monday, so it wasn't overly crowded (weekends or holidays would be). Yes, there are kids ignoring tbe signs and jumping off the cliffs. Yes, there are lots of rules (like no food or drink, because they don't want litter). No dogs. Parking is not close, but it's not a horrific walk. Bring water shoes and plastic water bottles for your drinks. A backpack would have been handy, but I had a large purse we just made sure to keep above the water as we made our way to the beach we wanted (involved crossing pools, climbing down rocks and river) but it was FUN! There are spots closer to parking where small kids can wade without having to clamber around the rocks. If you've got a lot of small kids to wrangle, this might not be the place for you... But then again, it just might! Also, saw some kids wearing ski vests. I thought that was a smart idea, as some of the rocky pools could get quite deep. Would I go back? Absolutely! Want to take my daughters and granddaughters!! Carry on the tradition... Plan on spending an entire day, maybe two.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank Vickivet1954
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Excellent Fun for Everyone”
Reviewed July 18, 2013

This was a fantastic, inexpensive travel destination. There wasn't even a fee for the State Park. This is perfect for anybody who loves relaxing around water. There is also a 40 foot cliff to jump off of for the dare devil in the family. It's pretty far down off the beaten path though so you have to adventure beyond a good portion of the rocks to find it. Warning-you may have to hike about a mile before you hit the water depending on what parking lot you are in. In addition, the little store by the shut-ins was sold out of most food the day we were there so don't come hungry!!!

Visited July 2013
Thank beachboarder66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Very crowded”
Reviewed July 16, 2013

Way too many people for the size of the area. The Kids and young adults were still being stupid (even thought it is posted) and cliff jumping making the large pool off limits to swimmers (if you wanted to keep your head at least). The facilities are nice, but be aware you can no longer bring 'disposable' drinks into the Shut-Ins you have to use waterbottles that you can conveniently buy in the overpriced store they have at the park. It was so crowded the the usual clear water was so murky that you couldn't see your hand in front of you. I remember the Shut-Ins from my childhood, and these are not nearly as nice, even with the 'improved' facilities. Oh yes, they now have no trash cans anywhere, you have to go into the restrooms to throw away a kleenex or the tag from that overpriced water bottle. :(

Visited July 2013
2 Thank wishing2gonorth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City, Missouri
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“natural waterpark”
Reviewed July 9, 2013

We had a great time here! The kids didn't want to leave. Make sure you plan plenty of time, at least a day. We stayed at the campground in a 40 ft motorhome, very rv friendly. There is a shuttle on the weekends if you don't want to drive the mile over to the water feature. Bring watershoes. Eat before you go in. Only reusable containers for drinks, they don't want people throwing their water bottles/trash around mucking it up. A 5 state-parks trip, this was our favorite. It gets busy, go early.

Visited June 2013
1 Thank KC64506
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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