Deck view of the Shut-Ins
Yes, I know that this series is called St. Louis in Pictures, but you will occasionally find St. Louis Day trips highlighted here too. A few months ago I stopped by Johnson’s Shut-Ins for the first time since the Upper Reservoir broke and sent 1.3 billion gallons of water through the park in 12 minutes, destroying everything in its path.
I was surprised with what I found. The park has all of the wonderful things I remember, plus a number of improvements. The new wooden path and observation deck is wonderful, given you a great view of the Shut-Ins without getting your feet wet.
The campground now includes equestrian campsites, full-hook up campsites, campsites that you have to hike out into the woods, plus the normal tent & cabin options you would expect to find.
It’s definitely worth the 2+ hour drive from St. Louis.
Stop in each Friday to see some of the pictures I’ve taken in my explorations around town.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a Missouri State Park an easy drive from St. Louis. Surrounded by numerous small towns offering camping and river floats, consider planning a weekend with a Saturday river float trip and Sunday at the Shut-Ins before heading home.
The Shut-Ins are part of the East Fork of the Black River. The park has hiking including short loop trails, equestrian trails and a 35 mile stretch of of the Ozark Trail. You can also bring your bike and fish in the shallows of the Black River.
Don’t forget your camera and your water shoes. The rocks get very slippery and shoes are definitely recommended, and there are plenty of dry options to take fabulous pictures.
Here are some of my favorite pictures I took on a Sunday morning of the Shut-Ins in April before it go busy with summer crowds.
Family fun on the rocks
This section of rocks is perfect for climbing even in weather when you wouldn’t want to get wet.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins shallow river area
While most of the Shut-Ins isn’t so safe for preschoolers, this shallow portion of the river is a perfect place to bring the little ones or fish. Over the years, I’ve often seen people sitting in lawn chairs in a few inches of water watching the younger kids splash around while the older ones headed to the bigger rocks and swirling waters.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins deep water swimming hole
Years ago, adventurous visitors would find their way to this cliff and then jump into the deep water swimming hole at the Shut-Ins. Of course, the activity was prohibited and dangerous. Every year it seems someone died from jumping, and if the rangers caught you, you were banned from the park. Still, there was always a steady stream of jumpers back in the late 90s when I spent my most time there.
I found this sign entertaining, but I guess they learned their lesson when the water came flooding down the hill from the Upper Reservoir. Given it came through in just 12 minutes, I would say that the sign should read ‘Run Fast’.
This 17 second video gives you a quick view of the Shut-Ins from the observation deck. There’s also a video you might want to check out about the park on their website.
You can see more pictures on my Flickr page.