Missouri’s Grand Canyon- Grand Gulf State Park
Grand Gulf State Park is located in Thayer, Missouri, just a few miles from the Arkansas border. Yesterday, my dad and I took a day trip together to go hiking at the park. My dad read about it in a book I got him for his birthday: Off the Beaten Path: Missouri by Patti Delano, where she describes Grand Gulf as “Missouri’s answer to the Grand Canyon”. So we headed out with very high expectations!
Grand Gulf was a huge cave system that collapsed leaving a canyon, a natural bridge and still remnants of a cave. We got to Grand Gulf State Park and went to the overlook, which was really pretty (Honestly, the best view you’ll get). When you’re on the overlook, you’re standing on top of the natural bridge. Then to your right is the cave and your left is all the canyon. It’s really a decent sized-canyon- especially for Missouri, but it is really green and lush! We did the South Canyon trail first (which it only 1/8th of mile, so it’s really easy). There was a little trickle of what could be a small waterfall a the bottom of that trail. (Which, we later learned that there’s usually a pretty good flow of water in there.) After that we did the loop trail, which is right around a mile. You cross back over the Natural Bridge and walk through the woods, but you come back around close to the edge of the gulf. If you wander off the trail a little bit (and through a giant patch of what we realized was poison ivy) you can actually get a view of the Natural Bridge, but not a great one.
It was a good State Park, but not my favorite. The best part (view wise) was the original overlook. It boasts about the Natural Bridge, but you have to fight to get just a glimpse of it. However, it was great to get away, spend an afternoon with my dad and learn more about the beauty of my own state. It’s worth a visit if you’re on the way, but still visit the Grand Canyon. :)