Echo Bluff State Parks has one of the most stunning lodges of any of the Missouri State Parks. And Sinking Creek’s crystal clear waters are a perfect place to dip your toes in or enjoy a gravel bar picnic. These are only a few of the outstanding attractions at Echo Bluff State Park.

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

ECHO BLUFF DOES ANSWER BACK if you give it a shout, even though you might prefer to sit quietly on the gravel bar and listen to the clear waters of Sinking Creek murmur through riffles at the base of the bluff, on their way to Current River downstream. The park is the perfect family-friendly base camp for exploring the wonders of the Missouri Ozarks.

Located between Salem and Eminence off Highway 19, the park is the Gateway to the Ozarks, a short drive from springs, caves, hiking trails, and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which protects the Cur- rent and Jacks Fork rivers. The park is in the vicinity of a variety of public and private conservation lands, including a national forest. A few of the nearby attractions include Rocky Falls, Blue Spring, Alley Spring Mill, and the Peck Ranch Conservation area, where you might see elk on a self-guided driving tour at dawn and dusk.

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

The park is in a scenic valley on Sinking Creek, a tributary of the Current. In addition to the lodge, there also are nine detached cabins with wood fireplaces and spacious decks and a campground with full-service RV hookups and walk-in showers.

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

The park was built with families in mind. An Adventure Playground has features, including seasonal water attractions, aimed at making its young visitors comfortable when they venture into the woods. Instead of the traditional slides, swings, and sandboxes, features are designed to reflect nature. There are rocks and tree-like structures to climb. An amphitheater for nature programs and entertainment is also next to the lake.

The lodge has a stone fireplace soaring three stories high and twenty guest rooms, all with gas fireplaces and decks. Some are two-room suites. A veranda on the back overlooks Echo Bluff and Sinking Creek.
Photo by Ben Nickelson

There are two hiking trails. The Painter Ridge Trail is a two-mile loop along the bluff overlooking the park; the Current River Trail runs five miles through forested ridges high above the river valley to the adjacent Current River State Park. Mountain bikers may use the Painter Ridge Trail, which runs along the bluffs and goes by scenic glades. It begins and ends near the Blufftop Pavilion.

The park also has a general store and the Creekside Grill, which offers indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant offers healthy choices as well as flavors of the region, local wines, and Missouri artisan-crafted beers. Picnic baskets can be pre-ordered.

The lodge also has four rooms for special events or meetings, one holding more than a hundred, as well as group outdoor settings.

Sinking Creek offers floating, kayaking, fishing, and simply playing in the warm, shallow water along the gravel bar. The creek feeds into the Current River.
Photo by Ben Nickelson

But the main highlight for both children and their parents is the mile or so of Sinking Creek as it winds through the park. The creek is a short walk from the lodge. Sinking Creek is shallow and warmer than most Ozark streams, making it an enjoyable spot for wading and a gravel-bar picnic. The creek is calm but can make for a sporty float trip when waters are right. It also boasts fine smallmouth bass fishing.

From 1929 into the 1980s, the property was operated as a summer camp called Camp Zoe. It’s close to the historic district in Current River State Park and has an extensive network of trails.

Echo Bluff State Park has camping, fishing, hiking, biking, dining, a picnic area, lodging, swimming, a playground, floating/kayaking, and an information center.

Feature image courtesy of Missouri State Parks.

Read about 20 of the best hiking and biking trails in Missouri here.

To purchase the Missouri State Parks Special editon book, click here.

477 acres
Shannon County

  • Painter Ridge Trail (2 mi)
  • Current River Trail (5.25 mi)