Johnson Shut-Ins State Park is famous for its natural water-park, carved out of purple-pink granite by years of erosion. Generations of visitors have come from all over to explore this natural playground.
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park (it’s actually “Johnson’s” but more folks seem to know it without the possessive ‘s’) is a public recreation area on the East Fork Black River in Reynolds County, MO. The “shut-ins” part of its name comes from its most famous feature: a steep-sided gorge or “shut-in” on the East Fork of the Black River.
The gorge is pocked with waterfalls, chutes, and potholes carved out of the ancient purple-pink granite by countless centuries of natural erosion. The area attracts visitors year-round but is especially popular in the warmer months. What could be more fun than to swim and clamber around this unique formation on a hot summer day?
More Than Just Shut-Ins
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park contains more than 8,780 acres to explore. It is much more than just a stretch of unique river gorge to splash around in.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins Fen Natural Area protects a small, sensitive wetland fed by groundwater rather than rainfall or surface sources. The fen provides habitat for unique species of plants and animals. These include arrowhead, wild sweet William, four-toed salamanders, and devil crayfish.
Another rarity within the park is the 18-acre, Johnson’s Shut-Ins Dolomite Glade Natural Area. This sedimentary glade is a very unique occurrence in the St. Francois Mountains. Consequently, it, too is home to an array of plants and animals not found elsewhere in the area.
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park also supports two outstanding Missouri wild areas: the East Fork Wild Area and Goggins Mountain Wild Area. The two areas make up the largest chunk of unbroken wilderness remaining in Missouri. Neither are accessible by road and do not include paved trails or other park amenities. This makes them a magnet for experienced back-country hikers and campers.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins Scour Trail
In 2005, a broken reservoir atop Profitt Mountain sent over one billion gallons of water rushing through Johnson Shut-Ins State Park. The flood devastated much of the park, uprooting trees, smashing buildings, changing landscapes.
While most of the park was restored in the years following the disaster, evidence of the destruction remains. Most notable is the Johnson’s Shut-Ins Scour Channel: a 1.5 mile stretch without trees, flowers, or soil. This startling feature has become one of the park’s most popular attractions, after the shut-ins, themselves.
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park offers camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, and biking. Amenities include picnic spots, a gift shop, visitor center, bicycle rentals, and virtual tours. Learn more at mostateparks.com.
After a fun day exploring Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, you’re going to be hankering for some shut-eye. For the best comfort, quality, and value, book your stay at a locally owned and operated Missouri B&B! Missouri Bed and Breakfasts are your source for personal service, an insider’s knowledge of the area, and delicious, hearty breakfasts. Do yourself a favor and look us up the next time you’re planning a Missouri getaway – you’ll be glad you did!