On Wednesday, we enjoyed a ride over the twisting, but very well maintained, roads that took us north through some beautiful countryside from Arkansas into Missouri. We joined I-44 at Rolla, and then proceeded east. We decided to stop for the night at Meramec State Park, on the Meramec River.
Spider Milkweed. The ride through the Ozarks gave
us a chance to see a lot of wildflowers.
The Meramec is one of the longest free-flowing rivers in Missouri. It flows 218 miles, and its watershed covers six Missouri Ozark Highland counties. In that distance, it drops 1,025 feet before reaching its confluence with the Mississippi River at Arnold, MO. There are eight recognized spellings or derivations of its name, but the original Algonquin name meant “the river of ugly fishes.” It was the catfish they didn’t find all that appealing. However, the Meramec is a popular fishing destination that yields several species of trout and bass, as well as walleye, and crappie in addition to the cats.
The Meramec State Park is a 6,896 acre park on the river near Sullivan, MO, or 60 miles southwest of St. Louis. In a word, it is HUGE. It is also beautiful and serene. With our recent experiences in Oklahoma, one of the first things we ask about at a park is what facilities there are for tornado shelters. They use both the restroom buildings, and the inside of a cave just across the road from the check-in gate at the campground.
Close-up of Indian Paintbrush
The river is a Class I, with occasional Class II spots, that offers limestone bluffs, caves, and bubbling springs. You will see a theme developing here, as it didn’t offer us anything. It was above flood stage and was closed to all paddlers. We at least wanted to walk down to the boat ramp to see the river, and had almost gotten there when it started raining. We returned to our camp to shed our wet clothes. Later, it stopped raining, so we struck out again only to have the rain resume before we had gone much over 200 yards. The rain continued most of the night.