63 In Hiking + The Outdoors/ Missouri/ Travel

Blue Spring – A True Gem of the Ozarks

Earlier this week, my dad and I spontaneously decided to take a day trip to check out the springs of Southern Missouri. The Current River and Jacks Fork River create a stunning landscape made of hills and valleys. These rivers are lined with springs that help feed them. These all combine into the stunningly colored Current River. While there are many springs along the rivers, one truly stands out: Blue Spring.

Getting to Blue Spring:

Left: Road Down to Trailhead / Center: Beginning of Trail / Right: My Hitting the Trail

Blue Spring is owned by the Missouri Conservation Department even though it’s completely enclosed by the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The trailhead for this spring is essentially equidistant from the towns Eminence and Ellington, Missouri. I recommend coming from the Eminence area, though because there are so many more things to see in that area off 106. There is a very well-marked, brown sign that lets you know when to turn. You just follow that down for 2.5 miles.

A Couple More Views of the Trail. You Can See the River in the Photo on the Right.

At the trailhead, there’s only one path to take. The trail itself is under one mile and it’s completely flat. Super easy as long as you watch your step in some places. The trail does fork shortly into it. There’s a clear sign that tells you to keep left to the spring. You can also turn right to go to Powder Mill. There was a serious flood in southern Missouri this year, so the road to get to the mill was closed. I’m hoping that the Mill is still standing and I can see it next time.

The trail follows the river and eventually you see a bluff at the end of the trail and that’s it. Be prepared to be amazed. The spring just blew my mind.

You can also access Blue Spring from the river. I’ve been told that there are signs posted. Also, there are steps leading up from the Current River right to this trail.

Exploring Blue Spring:

Blue Spring really left me awestruck. It’s insanely stunning sapphire-colored pool is what makes it aptly, in my opinion, the gem of the Ozarks Scenic National Riverways. It was the place that I truly didn’t want to leave. I looked out at it from the first little overlook, and then made my way on to the boardwalk.

  

My dad and I stood and looked over the edge. It’s captivating. I was so drawn to the color and it seemed like every time I took another step, I wanted to stop to take a photo. Although the water is beautifully clear, it’s just so deep that at some point it just looks like pure, deep blue nothingness.

It’s hard to see, but that’s the creepy little guy right in the middle of this photo.

I also had a wildlife first! There was a muskrat in the water! I had never seen a muskrat, and to be honest, it was pretty creepy looking. The tail on it was just so long.  This was the best photo I could get – it was just so quick!

 

Left: The View from the Second Boardwalk / Right: The View Coming Back Around the Bluff from the Second Boardwalk

We were about to turn back and walk back to the car when my dad saw that there was a second boardwalk that led up behind the bluff and then on top of it to look down on the spring and the flow into the creek. Although it’s pretty, I think that the view is probably the best in winter when there aren’t any leaves on the trees. The different perspective of the spring coming back around the corner was pretty, though.

Left: Looking Out from the Base of the Spring / Right: The Stream from the Trail Just Before the Spring

In addition to the spring itself, the view down the creek standing on the boardwalk at the mouth of the stream is a gorgeous natural view as well. I have to say, this spring is probably my favorite natural site in all of Missouri. It’s just so stunning.

Fun Facts About Blue Spring:

My Dad Taking it All In

⋙ Blue Spring is 310 feet deep. In case you’re trying to picture that, the NPS describes it as big enough that if you put the Statue of Liberty at the bottom of it, the entire thing would be submerged. Even the torch would be underwater.

⋙ The Osage Native Americans referred to this spring as the ‘Spring of the Summer Skies’.

⋙ Blue Spring discharges about 90 million gallons of water each day. This makes it one of the top 10 largest springs in Missouri. (I’ve read/heard 6th, 7th and 8th largest, but it’s definitely in the top 10.)

⋙ The color of the sky can determine just how blue/clear the water it. For reference, we were here on an overcast day. The depth of the pool is a big part of what makes the color such a bright blue.

⋙ The water stays a consistent 57 degrees (F) year round.

Swimming is very strictly prohibited here. This is to protect the beauty of this amazing natural sight.

The more I explore the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and discover amazing things like Blue Spring that are tucked away in the gorgeous hills of the Ozarks. As always, the thing that I treasure about these adventures the most is the time spent and memories made with my dad. 

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63 Comments

  • Reply
    Candy
    August 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I am so amazed at the colors of this spring. I can’t stop staring at the beautiful blue hues and how crystal clear it it. I actually didn’t know what a muskrat looked like and had to google it. They look kinda cute to me 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      It truly is a sight to see. I agree that the muskrat is cute on google, but that little bugger creeped me out swimming around! It literally looked like a swimming rat!

  • Reply
    Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    August 16, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    This is a hidden gem that truly bears a beautiful scenery with its cold water. I love how beautiful the lush scenery green forest when you go here. The huge trees and the shade of it really provides a relaxing atmosphere. I would love to jump into the if I could get the chance. The blue color of of the water is very enticing as well. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      It really and truly does. It looks just like a jungle when wandering down that trail! It is super enticing, but not allowed, unfortunately. However, the river is totally open for a dip! I definitely wish I could’ve jumped right in.

  • Reply
    Michelle | michwanderlust
    August 17, 2017 at 12:39 am

    Love the colour of the water – absolutely stunning! Seems like such an undiscovered gem with no one else around (that I can see from your photos). Tweeted and pinned!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 8:08 pm

      Isn’t it gorgeous? It is somewhat undiscovered! No one was there the whole time we were there. We passed one couple on the trail on the way there, but that’s it. Thanks for sharing my post as well as commenting!

  • Reply
    Claudia
    August 17, 2017 at 8:37 am

    I am in love with its beautiful colors! And just by looking at it I would had never imagined that it would be so deep!! The entire Statue of Liberty , torch and all?! And I have never seen a Muskrat either… I had to google it and I think I would be creeped out too hahah

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      Isn’t is just stunning? I would’ve have imagined it was that deep either! That’s a big part of what made it seem so amazing to me. I think they’re super creepy, especially swimming! Yikes!

  • Reply
    Patricia Steffy (@PLSteffy)
    August 17, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Wow! That is soooo blue! I almost can’t believe it. It’s amazing. I love that they have set up boardwalks for easy viewing and that getting there involves relatively flat paths with good signage (not the case on a recent hike I went on that had me second guessing where I was actually going). I love how lush the surrounding area is, and I can see why this spot is considered a gem.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      It’s certainly unbelievable. I have a video of us walking up and I literally gasped when I saw it. I hate that you had to second-guess yourself on a previous hike. This one won’t leave you feeling that way. But it’s also very short, which helps.

  • Reply
    abcdefghizzy
    August 18, 2017 at 8:10 am

    “The Spring of the Summer Skies .” It’s fascinating how in Native American language, the names of natural wonders acts of celebration and appreciation whilst in Western culture, natural wonders are bestowed with the name of the person who discovers it. I’m truly enraptured by how blue that water is, and equally amazed at how crystal clear it is!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      That’s so well-put. I took a speech, literacy and orality class and we discussed how Native Americans classify things by color and other “beauty” descriptors before shape and size. It’s always stuck in my head. It is such a beautiful site. I loved the color of the water and couldn’t believe that it was in my own backyard. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!

  • Reply
    sophie
    August 18, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    I have never seen something like this before in my life. This spring season and this blue color makes me go there now!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      You’d love it if you’re a nature-lover. It’s just unreal!

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    August 19, 2017 at 3:23 am

    Looking at your pictures of the Blue Spring, I had to pinch myself a couple of times just to make sure I was wide awake! the waters look so stunning and surreal, the kind of stuff that I have only seen in my dreams. It must indeed have been a more beautiful experience for you in real when you gazed at those heavenly blue waters. A true gem of the Ozarks indeed.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 8:57 pm

      It does seem unreal, doesn’t it? It was absolutely beautiful. Walking up to it I actually gasped.

  • Reply
    Wiebke Siemering
    August 19, 2017 at 7:59 am

    The water looks lovely! Reminds me a bit of the Cenotes I saw in Mexico. Great swim 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      I can agree with that. I saw a beautiful one in Mexico! Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for this environment, you can’t swim in this spring.

  • Reply
    Tom
    August 19, 2017 at 8:46 am

    I can absolutely understand why the Osage Native Americans referred to this spring as the ‘Spring of the Summer Skies’. I’ve never seen such a fantastic blue in real life and it is one of the things i really would love to see! I just can’t decide yet wether i like that you aren’t allowed to swim there or not.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      I haven’t either. The geyser springs in Yellowstone are the closest things I’ve seen to this color. I know what you mean – I wanted to jump in so badly – until I saw that muskrat 😉 He was seriously creepy! Haha

  • Reply
    thewanderingcore
    August 19, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Wow..the 310 feet deep..really, I’m so amazed by it. Did I read it correctly, is it a river? Again surprised because it looks like a lake 🙂 The color of the water is naturally so deep blue – this fact itself is so alluring that I would want to see & feel it by myself. I love that picture where you clicked your father standing & enjoying it all alone.
    Thanks for sharing about a place which I didn’t know about 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      It is pretty amazing! It is. It comes out of an underground river and feeds into a larger river in the area! It’s just a large pool at the mouth of this bluff. It’s only that deep in a small section and then runs out into the river.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Definitely let me know if you make it to the Ozarks!

  • Reply
    Jody Robbins
    August 19, 2017 at 11:03 am

    It’s not a thermal spring though is it? I so wish I could plunge into that blue!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      It’s not. Just a natural, fresh-water spring. Pretty incredible, huh?

  • Reply
    kittytocity
    August 19, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    This post put a smile on my face and took me back to my childhood! I am from Missouri and used to go floating on the Current River and camping around Jack’s Fork. I remember taking a trip in high school to the springs, I don’t think we visited Blue Spring because we were able to get in and swim. Such a wonderful find! But that muskrat…not what I pictured them looking like (yuck).

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Oh how cool! I’m from Springfield, Mo – what a small world! Isn’t the whole region just stunning? My family floated the Current a couple weeks ago and had so much fun. Thanks for sharing your experiences too.

  • Reply
    hcura
    August 19, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    What a beautiful place and equally impressive photography! The color is surreal and the trail is definitely worth it just to see this. I was bit confused with that little guy – the muskrat 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you very much! The weather was kind to me. 😉 It is definitely one of my very favorite places I’ve been in Missouri. I found the muskrat so creepy! I wasn’t expecting them to look like that at all and his motion swimming was so eery!

  • Reply
    Trisha Velarmino
    August 19, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    The color and how clear the water is really mesmerizing! A day spent with nature and your loved one seems like a perfect day, too. You must have had a lovely swim at the spring! <3

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      It is very mesmerizing! Unfortunately (for me, at least) as I said in the post, there’s no swimming allowed… It’s a really sensitive environment. :/ But I’m glad they’re preserving it!

  • Reply
    Eric Gamble
    August 19, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I was going to ask if you can swim in the sapphire waters but after reading your final tips, I see that it is strictly prohibited. That is a shame but as humans, we mess with nature too much. Hence why we cant have nice toys anymore.
    Love the color and dang how cool to see a muskrat. I love the Ozarks, I backpacked the Ozarks for a week on the Arkansas side many many years ago and because if it, I fell in love with backpacking

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      Haha! It’s true, we’ve messed up enough things that we don’t get to play in the most beautiful places!

      I’m so excited to hear someone who loves the Ozarks – most (other than the new Netflix series) haven’t ever heard of the region! Did you do the Buffalo River Trail? I’m an Ozarks girl through-and-through. I was born in Arkansas, raised in Missouri.

      • Reply
        Eric Gamble
        August 20, 2017 at 10:24 pm

        Yeah it was a while ago but we did the trail along the buffalo river. And to make you feel better, I didn’t know there is a show on Netflix called the Ozarks

        • Reply
          Paige Wunder
          August 20, 2017 at 10:33 pm

          That does make me feel better – it’s a great show, but it doesn’t paint the Ozarks in a great light. That’s so awesome. I’ve done loads of that trail system and it’s absolutely beautiful. Did you do the Goat Trail to Big Bluff? That one is my favorite in the area.

  • Reply
    Courtney Minor
    August 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    My dad’s been telling me to visit this place for ages. I need to plan a roadtrip!

  • Reply
    roamingourearth
    August 19, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Blue springs looks amazing. Glad your spontaneous day took you here. Looks totally work it.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 10:17 pm

      It absolutely was! And this is just one of many stops that we made. It’s an incredible area!

  • Reply
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
    August 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    What a gorgeous blue spring and an equally gorgeous walk through the forest. What a great day outing exploring the Ozarks and the beauty in your own backyard, so to speak.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      It was just that: a day of exploring our own backyard. It’s amazing what’s hiding back there 😉

  • Reply
    carrieemann
    August 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Whoa, 310 feet deep? I never would have guessed! It looks like a really beautiful spot.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 10:21 pm

      Yeah, it’s seriously impressive! It totally blew my mind!

  • Reply
    Meg Jerrard
    August 20, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    What a beautiful hike! So sad that swimming is prohibited, but I can understand it – I can see how making it a swimming hole would potentially ruin the beautiful appeal. Stunning color though, crazy that it changes depending on the sky! Thanks for the tip on coming from the Eminence area 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      Yeah. It’s one of those things that’s unfortunate for yourself (knowing you’d be cautious of the environment) but it’s good for the whole of this little piece of the earth. It’s very intriguing isn’t it? I wonder if it’s just that sunny skies reflect more white or something? Thanks for reading and commenting! Xx

  • Reply
    sg
    August 20, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    What a great spot. It’s just stunning. I have to say I have never heard of a muskrat before but he does sounds a little creepy for sure. I have been watching Ozarks of Netflix, so great to see a different side to the area 😉

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 20, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      It is a gorgeous area! I had heard of them, but didn’t realize that it was literally just a swimming rat! Ew! Haha! There’s a much different side to the area. I’m not saying that there aren’t drugs or drug-issues in the Ozarks (as there are many places), but there’s so much raw, natural beauty in this area. Also, the Ozarks is a pretty large region that covers SW Missouri and NW Arkansas

  • Reply
    SherianneKay
    August 20, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    I have been to the Ozarks several times but did not know about this place. Looks like I have a reason to return!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 21, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      Absolutely! This is one of my new favorites for sure – probably my favorite in the Missouri Ozarks!

  • Reply
    TalesOfABackpacker🌍 (@clairesturz)
    August 20, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    The colour of that water is stunning! I’ve never seen a musk rat either, at least it was in the water and not too close! I suppose animals should get to enjoy the water too!

  • Reply
    Anne @TravelTheGlobe (@TTGLOBE4L)
    August 21, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Wow the spring looks stunning. I love the colour of the water. It also looks like a great place for a woodland run which is one of my favourite things to do

  • Reply
    Miranda Knudtson
    August 21, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Wow that blue IS incredible! No wonder you wanted to keep taking pictures.. I would too! I’ve only ever seen water that shade of blue in the DEEP ocean depths. Really cool that this spring is the same shade of royal blue.

  • Reply
    RaW | Ramble and Wander
    August 21, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    This reminds me of Emerald Lake in Southern Thailand actually. I can’t believe this place is that deep though! I would’ve been tempted to jump into the blue waters if I didn’t know it’s really that deep (and that swimming is prohibited, heh!) Would love to come here one day! I imagine it would be much, much prettier & colourful in autumn.

  • Reply
    Janna
    August 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Okay I just finished The Ozarks on Netflix so this is really interesting. I had no idea this place existed. What a beautiful hidden gem! The blue water is super mesmerizing.

  • Reply
    Aleah | Solitary Wanderer
    August 21, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    You know what else amazes me aside from the color of the spring? The fact that there’s no one else there! Wow, you had it all to yourself. I’m all for conservation, but it’s too bad no one can swim there. It looks like a fantastic swimming hole.

  • Reply
    Holly
    August 21, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Walking through there I would have never thought that was what I would get. That looks like a great place to visit. I would love to see this myself.

  • Reply
    Karla
    August 22, 2017 at 1:08 am

    The color of the water is just magical, I would definitely love to visit the Blue Spring Gem.

  • Reply
    Jetsettera
    August 22, 2017 at 7:35 am

    What a peaceful beautiful nature! The colors come out so well! It is truly beautiful.

  • Reply
    consiec2011
    August 22, 2017 at 7:42 am

    This looks super cool and reminds me of the Pit (cenote) just near Tulum of Mexico. I was reading down through the article thinking how awesome it would be to be able to go scuba diving there but then read that swimming is strictly prohibited. The diver in me thinks that’s a shame but the conservationist thinks it’s exactly the right idea. Would love to go there for a visit!

  • Reply
    Heather Hudak
    August 22, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Your pictures of Blue Spring are gorgeous. They make me want to hop in my car and drive to Ozarks Scenic National Riverways right now!

  • Reply
    WanderingCarol
    August 22, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    My first instinct was to say, I’d love to swim here, but if you could it would soon be ruined. I can’t believe it’s more than 300 feet deep. That’s insane. And insanely beautiful.

  • Reply
    Jenna Kvidt
    August 22, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    What a fun spontaneous trip to take! Look like such a gorgeous spring–I absolutely love spots like this. The color of the water is breathtaking and I can see why you couldn’t stop taking photos! It’s so crazy that it is over 300 feet deep, too! Would love to visit!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Made all the Difference
    August 23, 2017 at 8:50 am

    It amazies me how uncreative we are in naming things in the US. I have been to almost a dozen Blue Springs. I will give you none are as deep as this one. I would love to go out and spend a day sleeping in a hammock near this one.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 23, 2017 at 8:52 am

      You are so right! In fact, there are THREE Blue Springs in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways! Why wouldn’t they rename those other two?! Madness! I bet you could spend the day there with very minimal interruptions. It’s pretty special out here.

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