Elephant Rocks is one of our family’s favorite state parks in Missouri. Actually, it’s one of our favorite state parks PERIOD.
With massive granite boulders to climb over, around, and through, it’s easy to see why.
Elephant Rocks State Park is located in Iron County, Missouri, in the St. Francois mountains.
Recently, we spent the morning here, exploring with the kids. Mason had been asking to come back after last year’s visit with family.
We found ourselves in the area for other reasons, so we decided it was the perfect time!
We explored the boulders until the kids were tired of running, climbing, and squeezing through narrow passages.
If you don’t think your kids are hiking lovers, they will be after this place! But just in case, here are 6 ways to make hiking fun for kids!
We will likely be back to visit this park again before the end of the year.
History of Elephant Rocks State Park
How did the boulders form?
The formation of these rocks started over 1.5 billion years ago. Under the earth’s surface, hot magma slowly cooled, creating a large mass of granite.
After some time, the surface on top of the granite was eroded away. The granite expanded upward and cracks were formed throughout the rock mass.
Eventually, rainwater that had settled into all those cracks began eroding the rock away. This caused the cracks in the granite to widen, and eventually, the corners of the granite to be rounded off.
The huge mass of granite was now multiple “core stones” beneath the earth.
After millions of years, erosion caused these 1.5 billion-year-old granite boulders to become exposed. These are the “elephant rocks” we see today.
Erosion of these rocks is still taking place today.
Things to do at Elephant Rocks in Missouri
Elephant Rocks features trails to walk throughout the huge boulders.
There is even a one-mile braille trail for the visually impaired. It is also wheelchair accessible.
Other trails go through “fat man’s squeeze” (a narrow gap between boulders) and “the maze” (an area of scattered boulders.)
The Engine House Ruins Trail leads to, surprise… the ruins of an old engine house! It was built to repair old train engines and railroad cars when the granite quarries were shipping the “Missouri Red” granite throughout the country.
It also makes a really nice photo-op!
There is a small pond, but fishing and swimming are not allowed.
There are also picnic areas, restrooms, and a playground.
Other things to do near Elephant Rocks State Park
This is truly such a great area to explore!
Arcadia Valley and the St. Francois mountains are just a naturally beautiful, scenic area.
Near Elephant Rocks, there is another of our all-time favorite state parks – Johnson Shut-ins. This park is a great swimming area, nice hiking, and is perfect for camping. The landscape itself is amazing here.
Taum Sauk Mountain, another state park, is also nearby. This park features the highest point in Missouri (and amazing views, especially during the fall), and the tallest wet-weather waterfall in the state.
For history lovers, the Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site is also very close. To see a full list of things to do in Southeast Missouri for families, check out our post here.
- The park is open year-round.
- Admission is free.
- Leashed pets are allowed.
- There are vending machines on site.
- There are steep drop-offs throughout the park – keep kids close!
If you haven’t been to Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri yet, add it to your bucket list!
Other relevant posts:
- Discover the Best Missouri State Parks: Epic MO Parks You Can’t Miss
- Things to do in Southeast Missouri for Families
- Make Hiking With Kids More Enjoyable
- 9 Reasons You Need to Take Your Kids Hiking
- 21 Best Family-Friendly Things to do in Missouri this Fall
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