Missouri: St. Joe State Park

Park Hills, Mo.

Gorgeous!

Even that generous word fails to do justice to St. Joe State Park.

St. Joe State Park is truly one of the nation’s premier Off-Road Vehicle areas. If we could get other state’s ORV coordinators to visit this area, they would experience firsthand what an asset an expertly managed area can be to a community. Meanwhile, ATVers within reach of Park Hills, Mo., can enjoy this spectacular site.

St. Joe State Park offers some unique riding opportunities. Wooded trails twist and turn and wind their way up and down hills and valleys, as you would expect in the hills of southeastern Missouri.

And there are the sand flats.

Maybe you don’t think of sand riding when you think of Missouri, but of the 2,000 acres at St. Joe’s that are open to off-road vehicle use, 800 acres are sand flats.

The flats are created by the “tailings,” or sand like residue, a byproduct of the lead mining process. Trails wind through trees and brush, with small hillclimb areas and wide open flat areas alike. The mixture of wooded trails and sand makes for very enjoyable and diverse riding.

St. Joe State Park provides more amenities than most of the riding areas in the country. The campground has basic camp sites for $6 per night and electric sites for $10. All sites are offered on a first-come, first-served policy. The campground has bathrooms with hot showers, a real plus to help you relax before an evening cookout.

ATVs and motorcycles use the sand flats and wooded trails, while large 4x4 vehicles and dune buggies are restricted to the sand flats. There are also separate trails for bicycle riders and equestrian use.

ATVs must carry a 72” high antenna-type flag and be equipped with a U.S. Forest Service-approved spark-arrested exhaust. All riders must wear helmets, and riders under 16 must be under adult supervision. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on the trails and in ORV areas.

Daily riding fees are only $3 per vehicle. Where else can you have so much fun for so little money?

The park is open 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., but is closed to public use during a few select events. Dates and times of any use restrictions are posted on the Missouri State Parks website when available.

The day-use parking lots are sparkling clean, with plenty of space. Picnic areas are dispersed throughout the area, as are trash containers, changing rooms and toilets. You can even take a break and lay on the beach, swim or go fishing in one of the three lakes. What more could a family ask for in an ORV area?

Every creature comfort you could ask for is available in the nearby towns of Farmington and Park Hills, along with most major motels and restaurants, gas stations and ATV dealerships.

For more information on St. Joe State Park, visit www.mostateparks.com. If you would like to call direct, phone (573) 431-1069, or write to 2800 Pimville Rd., Park Hills, MO, 63601.