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Missouri in Pictures: 15 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Brad Lane
Feb 6, 2020

Shut-ins, springs, and magical Ozark scenery are the main subject for many of the most beautiful pictures of Missouri. The Show Me State has a lot of stunning landscapes to share. Cultural icons like the Gateway Arch rise in contrast to natural views like the one found at Alley Mill. Missouri also goes by another name, the Cave State, and these underground worlds are also fun to photograph.

1. Elephant Rocks State Park, Belleview

Elephant Rocks State Park

A long procession of massive boulders draws visitors to this unique state park in southeast Missouri. These big rocks were created by ancient magma cooling and eroding over billions of years. A popular spot to photograph and explore, the one-mile Braille Trail at the park is accessible for all visitors to enjoy. While the big boulders are photogenic on their own, framing people in the photograph adds perspective to how big these rocks are.

2. Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Camdenton

Castle ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park

The remains of ancient castle ruins are fun to photograph at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. On a southern arm of Lake of the Ozarks, this turn-of-the-century castle also has excellent views of the water. Fifteen miles of hiking trails surround the castle ruins and lead throughout the encompassing Ozark landscape.

3. The Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis

Near the banks of the Mississippi River and the border of Illinois, this emblem of westward expansion has become an icon of St. Louis. Visible for miles on the horizon, the 630-foot memorial is the tallest monument in the nation. This sheer size makes photographing the arch easy from many different angles. The height of the St. Louis Arch also lends to great pictures from the top.

Accommodation: Best Hotels in St. Louis

4. Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, Middle Brook

Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park

Under a two-hour drive from St. Louis, this water-based state park is one of the most visited in Missouri. Summertime tends to draw the most crowds to Johnson's Shut-Ins, where the namesake waterways are fun to swim in and explore. The swift current of the rocky stream is also ideal for practicing long exposure photography and capturing movement.

5. Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg

Lily Pad Room in Onondaga Cave

Onondaga Cave State Park highlights one of many reasons why Missouri's nickname is "The Cave State." Onondaga Cave State Park opens a world of stalactites, stalagmites, and underground passageways. Guided tours offered by the state park are the only way to capture the beauty of the cave. Above-ground attractions at the state park include verdant woodlands and the Meramec River.

6. Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City

Missouri State Capitol

The Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City is one of the most photographed state buildings in Missouri. Manicured grounds surround the State Capitol atop a scenic bluff overlooking the Missouri River. Several vantage points of the domed capitol building offer excellent pictures. Within the ornate interior, which the public can tour, the State Capitol houses an acclaimed collection of public art.

7. Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis

Japanese Strolling Garden at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

A top place to visit in St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Gardens offers a landscaped oasis in the middle of the city. The 76 acres of the Missouri Botanical Gardens feature a robust collection of plants and landscaping that is fun to photograph. A top spot for photos, the 14-acre Japanese Strolling Garden at the botanical gardens features sharp angles to shoot.

8. Alley Mill, Eminence

Alley Mill

Within Ozark National Scenic Riverways, this historic mill is one of the most beautiful places to photograph in the state. The serene, spring-fed landscape of the area pairs well with the century-old mill on the water. The relatively fresh coat of red paint stands out in pictures of Alley Mill. It's a six-mile drive from Eminence, Missouri and approximately a mile hike to reach Alley Mill.

9. Echo Bluff State Park, Eminence

Echo Bluff State Park

A beautiful scene in the Ozark Mountains, Echo Bluff is a sheer rock feature looming over the Current River. Activity abounds surrounding this picturesque rock wall. The state park features hiking trails, wading spots, and a campground to pitch a tent. A historic lodge on the property also accommodates a night indoors. Spending the night at the state park is the best way to get photographs of the stunning sunsets in the area.

10. Bennett Spring State Park, Lebanon

Fall fishing at Bennett Spring State Park

A popular trout fishing destination, Bennett Spring State Park is also a great place to capture beautiful photographs. The millions of gallons of water that gush from Bennet Spring are stocked daily with rainbow trout. The scenic landscape also lends to picturesque escapades like hiking, camping, and boating. Seven hiking trails in the park lead to different views overlooking the clear water.

11. Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Columbia

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Ten minutes from Columbia in Central Missouri, this dense state park contains several eye-catching rock features. Hiking trails abound in the state park, and routes like the Devil's Icebox have visitors exploring both above and below ground. Alongside photogenic subjects like natural arches and sinkholes, the surrounding woodland also makes for great nature shots.

12. Fantastic Caverns, Springfield

Fantastic Caverns

These underground caverns near Springfield live up to their name. As the nation's only commercial caverns with guided tram rides, everyone can enjoy the underground world at Fantastic Caverns. From the 55-minute, Jeep-drawn tram ride, visitors witness the giant columns and skinny soda straws of the cave. Cameras are permitted on the tours.

13. Branson

Branson Scenic Railroad | GPA Photo Archive / photo modified

In the Ozarks of southwest Missouri, Branson has blossomed into a family adventure city with musical appeal. Alongside several theaters and themed museums, beautiful mountain landscapes bless the Branson area. The Entertainment District of Branson is illuminated for nighttime shots. The Branson Scenic Railroad captures a more scenic side of the city.

14. Forest Park, St. Louis

Forest Park at sunset

Over 13 million people visit this vast urban park in St. Louis every year. Within 1,300 acres to explore, photographic opportunities abound in this public space. From woodland trails to iconic cultural institutions like the St. Louis Art Museum, Forest Park offers several ways to capture the scenic environment. Several statutes, memorials, and other landscaped features of the park also look good in a viewfinder.

15. Castlewood State Park, Ballwin

Meramec River in Castlewood State Park

A popular spot for mountain biking from the St. Louis Area, Castlewood State Park encompasses over 1,800 acres of luscious woodlands. This vast expanse and abundance of multi-use trails also leads to striking nature photographs. Some of the best photos in the state park come from atop the limestone bluffs overlooking the Meramec River.

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