Located in the Ozarks of southern Missouri, Echo Bluff is a pretty darn new state park. Opened in 2016 with new buildings, new cabins, new playgrounds, and LOTS of new concrete. I’ll explain what I mean…
Echo Bluff sits on a former youth camp originally opened in 1929 called Camp Zoe. I’m sure it was a really special place for all those kids back in the day.
Sinking Creek is the large, crystal clear stream that runs thru the park, and the named-for bluff sits as a backdrop for the large, brand new lodge. Listening to the creek and gazing at the bluff, you can imagine that many others have stood in your same place throughout time soaking in the view. And though it was too cold to swim during our visit, I longed to splash in the clear, shallow waters.
While exploring the grounds and looking for the wild horses (we didn’t get to see them), we wandered to the children’s playground. It was a big win with Little D. Lots of structures to climb on, swings, an on-ground slide (closed during our visit), and a splash pad (that’s open during the summer). Check out our video below; you can see all the fun structures. She played for quite a while, and she still didn’t want to leave.
So let’s talk about the construction and concrete… Our little fam has been thru lots and LOTS of state parks, and though the setting for Echo Bluff was truly beautiful, we left disappointed. They have one large parking area for their RV camping, and instead of placing RV sites amongst the beautiful trees as done in most other parks, they scraped the ENTIRE area to make it. (See photo below – you can see the beautiful trees encircling the cleared lot.) The pads are new, clean, wide, and level with ZERO shade on any sites.
All construction areas were clearcut. I would have preferred they were more considerate of the land and made attempts to preserve the area instead of scraping everything around all the new roads, concrete walking paths, parking lots, large lodge, cabins (not really cabins – think “townhomes with balconies”), playground, outdoor amphitheater, and pavilions.
They planted very few young trees afterward, and in my opinion, it looks sparse (see photo).
So if you’re looking for a new construction, little lodge for a wedding or small corporate event, this might be a great option. But if you’re looking for a state park to enjoy the outdoors, Echo Bluff missed the mark for us.
✪ Echo Bluff State Park – 34489 Echo Bluff Drive, Eminence, MO 65466
➤ Stayed: in state park
✪ Current River State Park – County Road 19-D, Salem, MO 65560
➤ Note: This is a day-use park only (wander & hike). And we definitely recommend a truck for the road into the park.
✪ Alley Spring National Park – @ MO-106 & County Rd 106-308, Eminence, MO 65466
➤ Trip’s Trails & Sights: Take the trail around the back of the mill and spring. It’s gorgeous.
✪ Round Spring National Park – Eminence, MO 65466
➤ Note: This was closed due to COVID during our 2020 visit.