Top 10 Waterfalls in Missouri

Published on November 19th, 2021

Amazing barbecue, a rich musical history, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country: Missouri is rightly celebrated (and sought-out) by vacationers for a whole lot of good reasons.

One reason people often overlook, though, is its plethora of stunning cascades. From smaller, man-made waterfalls to tall, gorgeous, plummeting flows, Missouri is awash in powerful waters. Here are ten of the most beautiful — and the details you need to see them for yourself.

Top 10 Waterfalls in Missouri

1. Waterfall Park

2. Citygarden Falls

3. Forest Park Falls

4. Meramec Falls

5. Hickory Canyons Waterfall

6. Mina Sauk Falls

7. Rocky Falls

8. Cotton Rocks Fall

9. Dogwood Canyon Falls

10. Grand Falls

Visiting Waterfalls in Missouri

Here are the top 10 waterfalls in Missouri, as well as the various hiking trails and other information you need to see them up close and personal.

1. Waterfall Park

pretty little stone waterfall in Independence Missouri

It’s not every state that sets aside space in urban areas for beautiful, nature-inspired vistas — but Missouri does. Located within the community of Independence just east of Kansas City, Waterfall Park is man-made, but that in no way lowers its value as a place of solace and beauty for local city-dwellers and travelers alike. The waterfall stands more than ten feet tall and cascades down over a stack of rocks built for this specific purpose, and is accessed by an easy, flat walking trail that also includes a bridge close to the falls themselves. The park also offers plenty of well-maintained green space as well as picnic areas and a playground.

Things to do near Waterfall Park: Kansas City is, of course, chock full of things to see, do, and explore, including world-class dining, excellent museums, and enough shopping to sate any retail therapist. The area also boasts some excellent RVshare rentals and campgrounds, too, so you’ve got the perfect home base for your adventure!

2. Citygarden Falls

Public Citygarden in downtown st. louis at twilight

Ricocheting across I-70 to the other end of the state, Citygarden Sculpture Park is a well-known feature of St. Louis, and also includes some well-placed man-made falls. Tumbling over a constructed rock fall into a fountain dotted with beautiful stones, this waterfall is definitely a much different experience than you might expect from a rugged, outdoor adventure — but if you find yourself in St. Louis and in need of something beautiful to look at, it’s certainly recommendable. Plus, it’s only feet from the large children’s pool, so the kids will certainly have something to keep them occupied while you gawk.

Things to do near Citygarden Falls: Only steps from the place the mighty Mississippi River cleaves the land and from Gateway Arch National Park, widely known as the gateway to the west, Citygarden Falls (and the two-dozen-plus sculptures that characterize the rest of the park) are truly in the heart of this city, steps from museums, restaurants, and every other attraction your heart could desire. You’ll probably want to hang around St. Louis for quite a while to check everything out, so here are some nearby RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider.

3. Forest Park Falls

Forest Park Waterfall in St. Louis

Another man-made St. Louis option for waterfall chasers, Forest Park Falls is located within the expansive greenspace of Forest Park, which features multiple sports courts and fields, fountains, a golf course, a restaurant, a zoo and an art museum, just for starters. (It’s basically the St. Louis equivalent of New York’s Central Park or San Diego’s Balboa Park.) Built in 1937, the waterfall here is sometimes known by locals as Flegel Falls, and although it stands only a few feet high, its powerful flow and well-manicured backdrop make it a worthy stop for anyone traveling through or living in St. Louis.

Things to do near Forest Park Falls: Forest Park alone could take a whole week to fully discover, though you could certainly see it much quicker if you pick and choose which attractions you’re keenest for. If you’re in need of even more well-preserved outdoor space, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and nearby St. Louis RVshare rentals and campgrounds make it easy to stay and play as long as you want to.

4. Meramec Falls

This striking photo was captured on a summer afternoon at Meramec Spring Park in St. James, MO. Meramec Spring Park is one of the beautiful spots to be found in Missouri.

Coming in at nearly 7,000 acres and straddling both sides of the beautiful Meramec River, Meramec State Park is a popular getaway locale for Missourians all over the state, though it’s especially convenient for those in St. Louis. More than a dozen miles of hiking trails lead visitors through the lush, green landscape, which includes caves, unique rock formations, and some small but beautiful rapids-style waterfalls, which an elevated bridge leads visitors over. While you’re checking out the falls, consider staying a while longer to take advantage of the fishing, rafting, and boating opportunities that are part of what make this park so popular.

Things to do near Meramec Falls: Only an hour from St. Louis and an equally drivable distance from the larger wilderness of Mark Twain National Forest, Meramec Falls truly offers the best of both worlds: accessibility with enough “out there” to make you feel like you’ve really gone somewhere. The nearby town of Sullivan has you covered for essentials, and here are some local RVshare rentals to consider your home away from home.

5. Hickory Canyons Waterfall

Hickory Canyon Falls
Image via AllTrails

The Hickory Canyons Natural Area is something of a hidden gem; although it’s only an hour or so south of St. Louis, it’s often overlooked for the other (equally worth visiting) state parks in this area, especially since it’s a rather small preserve. That said, those who make the trip will be rewarded for their thoroughness: the trail is short and fairly even, and the waterfall at the end is powerful and impressive, especially if you’re lucky enough to visit right after a rain. Because of the tiered nature of the rocky cliffs that lie beneath it, the waterfall gently flows down the stones rather than plummeting directly. There’s room at the bottom to spread out for a picnic and enjoy the view.

Things to do near the Hickory Canyons Waterfall: Part of the reason this is a bit of a hidden gem is the proximity of places like Hawn State Park and St. Francois State Park, both of which are also certainly worth your time. Our suggestion? Find a cozy local RVshare rental and go to town, staying and playing as long as you like!

6. Mina Sauk Falls

Mina Sauk Falls
By Skye Marthaler – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32465275

Perhaps one of the most famous waterfalls in the state of Missouri, and certainly one of the most scenic, Mina Sauk Falls is tucked within the expansive (and gorgeous) landscape of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, a worthwhile and oft-sought-out destination even for non-waterfall-chasers. Its namesake mountain is the highest point in the state, and its vast network of hiking trails connects directly into the Ozark Trail — along which Mina Sauk Falls are found. Truly a landscape of superlatives, Mina Sauk Falls also enjoys the status of being the tallest waterfall in Missouri, cascading some 132 feet into the Taum Sauk Creek below. While you can make your trek to the falls a much longer, more arduous venture, there’s a short and relatively easy trail that’ll get the job done in about three round-trip miles — but do be forewarned that some of it is steep and slippery.

Things to do near Mina Sauk Falls: The southeastern corner of the state is well-known for its natural beauty, and there’s plenty more to see and do here if you’re a lover of the great outdoors. Taum Sauk Mountain State connects directly to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, which offers its own on-site campground. The much larger expanse of Mark Twain National Forest isn’t much further; here are some local RVshare rentals from which to explore it all.

7. Rocky Falls

Rocky Falls and Sand Bank

Located not far east of the Rocky Creek Conservation Area, Rocky Falls is at once a simply breathtaking natural sight and an education in geological history. The reddish-brown rocks that compose the face behind the falls are made of rhyolite porphyry, which dates them to about 1.5 billion years ago. The forces of erosion allow visitors to see hardened old lava when they gaze at the waterfalls’ surroundings. The falls themselves tumble over a variety of tiers along Rocky Creek, making for a beautiful place to sit back and get some perspective on how small and insignificant all of our problems really are.

Things to do near Rocky Falls: This part of the state is chock-full of preserved wildernesses, such as Rocky Creek Conservation Area, of course, but also Current River Conservation Area, Logan Creek Conservation Area, and the Sunklands Conservation Area, just to name a few. Here are some local RVshare rentals to explore it all with!

8. Cotton Rocks Fall

Cotton Rocks Fall
Cotton Rocks Fall is located deep in the beautiful woods surrounding Branson

Located just outside of the storied vacation town of Branson — home to Silver Dollar City, among other attractions — Cotton Rocks Fall is the perfect add-on if you’re looking to balance your big-city adventure with some rugged, outdoor fun. The fall is also known as the Roark Creek Waterfall, and can be accessed along the Roark Creek Waterfall Trail, which runs less than two miles round trip and sees only about 100 feet in elevation change, meaning it’s steep in places but fairly doable. The trail is also opened to well-behaved dogs on leashes, so you can bring Fido!

Things to do near Cotton Rocks Fall: Branson is the kind of booming mountain town where there’s something to do around the clock, whether you’re visiting as a solo adult adventurer, making a romantic getaway, or taking a family vacation. Along with Silver Dollar City, check out Dolly Parton’s Stampede or the TITANIC Museum Attraction… or head out into the ample backcountry for some quieter, if more adventurous, fun. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider.

9. Dogwood Canyon Falls

Waterfall in dogwood canyon Missouri during the fall.

Encompassing some 10,000 acres of pristine wilderness, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is truly a wonderland for outdoor lovers of any stripe — and that includes waterfall-chasers! Dogwood Canyon Falls tumbles scenically over a series of tiered rock faces and makes for an absolutely unforgettable Instagram snap (or just a plain-old, analog memory), and is only one of the many one-of-a-kind natural attractions you’ll encounter if you make your way through this vast natural preserve. Do be aware that Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is privately owned and thus, you’ll be charged a modest fee to enter. There are also additional activities and events held in the park that come at additional charges — but it’s all well worth the money!

Things to do near Dogwood Canyon Falls: Tucked in the extreme southwestern portion of the state, very close to where it borders on Arkansas, Dogwood Canyon Falls is pretty deeply in the middle of nowhere, though the park itself offers plenty of developments to make for an easy and comfortable vacation. Branson is about a thirty-five minute drive away, and the bigger city of Springfield is a little more than an hour. Here are some local RVshare rentals to call your home away from home!

10. Grand Falls

Grand Falls waterfall located in Joplin, Missouri. It is Missouri's widest waterfall.

Nestled at the place where Shoal Falls widens out to create the Joplin Water Supply Lake, Grand Falls is the largest continuously flowing natural waterfall in the state of Missouri: although it stands only about 12 feet tall, it’s more than 160 feet across, making for a truly impressive vista. Nearby creek pools create opportunities for swimming, fishing and wading, and it’s all within just minutes of the heart of the city of Joplin, which offers plenty of other beautiful green spaces and nature exhibits, such as Mc Clelland Park, McIndoe Park and the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center.

Things to do near Grand Falls: If you’re a history buff, you won’t want to miss a visit to the nearby Battle of Carthage State Historic Site, and Prairie State Park is only a little bit further afield. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider.

Planning an RV Trip to Missouri

It’s certainly not just waterfalls that draw visitors to Missouri — but as you can see, there are plenty of them to go around if that’s what you’re after!

No matter what you’re visiting for, however, RVshare has you covered when it comes to the logistics. Find the perfect rental rig on our vast peer-to-peer network, and then check out the best state parks and campgrounds to see and stay at in Missouri. We’ve also penned guides to St. Louis and Kansas City for those of you after an urban adventure, not to mention Gateway Arch National Park!

The rest is up to you… so what are you waiting for? Get out there and chase those waterfalls!

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