"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pink Elephants in Missouri

St. Joe State Park
Farmington, MO

Since our plans didn't work out to hike the High Point in Illinois we had some extra days to play with.  Steve wanted to spend some more time in St. Louis, but with the recent shooting and protests going on we decided to steer clear of St. Louis and spend more time in Missouri as we had some friends to visit. 
(darn phone line!)

As we crossed the Mississippi River we noticed how low the water was.  I guess they've had some dry years and it's really affecting the water levels.

Crossing the Mighty Mini Mississippi River
We chose to stay at St. Joe State Park as it was on the way to our friends and gave us a few days to have fun in the surrounding area.  There is the High Point to do, a mining museum, some rocks to climb and small towns to visit.

St Joe State Park is located between the towns of Park Hills and Farmington.  It's normally a very popular campground for off-roaders.  There are several OHV trails within the park.  Since it's after season and the kids are back in school (Yay!) we practically had the park all to ourselves.  For $21 we had water and electric on some of the largest pull through sites we've seen.  Ours was over 100 feet.  There is nice grassy separation between sites with a nice large pad too.  The only problem is the sites have a little too much crown to them from front to back. 
About a 30 minute drive away is Elephant Rocks State Park.  There is no camping here but lots of picnicking and trails are here.  There was some fall color here and there too.  Again, we only saw two other couples here.  We came later in the day and the sun was starting to head down making it a bit cooler and the colors of the rocks really amplified. 
There is a wonderful paved trail that makes a loop around up to the "elephants". 
The nice thing about this loop is that it is made for blind people.  When their canes come across the green pads it signifies that there is a plaque in braille to read.  They hold onto the rope and follow along on the trail.  Really cool.
The rocks start to get larger and more interesting in shape as you walk.  The different colors of moss and lichen add to the "art".

Core samples were taken from the rocks to determine the mineral quality and value.  You can see a square pattern in the picture below.
The samples showed that the best use of the granite was for building materials which were quarried since the mid 1800s.  This granite was shipped all over the mid-west, San Francisco, Baltimore, New Orleans and Dallas.  It provided paving blocks for many of the streets in St. Louis including the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, US Customs and the Post Office. Other popular uses were for tombstones.  The stone has a deep, red color with a high quartz content which allows for a high polish.  The red color comes from pink feldspar and red iron oxide.

This is an 1890's engine house for the Sheahan Quarry private railroad.
The pattern of the cut rock and "grout" were so interesting.

This boulder looked like a Stonehenge face to me.  Mouth and nose on the bottom left and closed eye on the top right.
This rock was shaped like a giant surfboard.  Couldn't get Steve to stand on it and "surf" for me.
At the top of the granite dome is the main geologic feature that the park is named for.  On the summit is a row of huge, pink granite boulders that look like a herd of elephants.

This one looks like a giant baked potato.  

These boulders are HUGE.  Here's a picture of a gal on one for perspective.


This "elephant" is on its tippy toes.

There are several names carved into the granite rocks as you walk around.  Many quarry workers carved their names and the dates into the rocks when they became master stone cutters.

On this part of the hike you enter Fat Man's Squeeze.  It's a narrow pathway formed along a vertical joint fracture in the bedrock.  You are actually walking between what someday could be another elephant rock.
Plenty of room!
The water filled quarry is 40 feet deep.  The granite from here was mined to pave the streets in St. Louis.

They also have some very nice picnic area nestled in between a bunch of rocks and boulders.

We had a great time hiking around the park and visiting the small nearby towns.  We stayed and watched the sun set before heading back to camp.


  1. Great photos and looks like you had a great time. Love the pin up pose in the tree. Daredevil Steve wouldn’t surf the rock? Whaaaaat?

    1. He did try, but the other side had an awkward angle to it. :-)

  2. You guys always find the coolest stuff! Love the great pics!

  3. What a great find! I love those big elephants! Rounded boulders really call to me. How sweet that they created a path a blind person can also enjoy. That something you don't find very often.

    1. It was a fun place. You could climb all over them. I'm sure it would be Heaven for kids!

  4. You guys have a knack at finding really cool small parks seeing so much more than others that just drive by these area. Very cool rocks!


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