- Missouri's place in American history is one of transition from developed regions to open spaces. The western area of the state, especially Independence, was used as a departure point for emigrants to western territories throughout the nineteenth century. Before Europeans descended on the state many Native American tribes lived throughout the regions supported by diverse natural resources.
Copyright: National Park Service
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
The eastern border of Missouri is formed by the Mississippi River. The northeastern corner of the state is known as Mark Twain Country. The popular nineteenth century writer was born and raised in this region. Mark Twain State Park commemorates his importance to American Culture and preserves his birth home. The park also contains the largest lake in the state of Missouri, supporting a variety of water sport facilities.
The region surrounding St. Louis, in central eastern Missouri, encompasses the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. This area contains several state parks and two national properties: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. Portions of the Katy Trail, a 185-mile trail for hiking and biking, lie within this region.
Southeastern Missouri is contained by Interstate 44 and the Mississippi River. It is characterized by rolling hills and wetlands of the Ozarks. This area has the more public land than any other in the state. Most of the one million acres that comprise the Mark Twain National Forest lie within this region. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways encompasses 80,000 acres around the confluence of the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers.
The southwestern region of the state contains several large, navigable lakes that support many developed campsites, picnic areas, marinas and beaches. Nationally administered sites in the region include George Washington Carver National Monument and Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. Interstate dissects the region and leads through the large communities of Springfield and Joplin.
The central region of Missouri contains Interstate 70, which connects St. Louis to Kansas City. The Missouri River winds through this region on its way toward the Mississippi River. One district of the Mark Twain National Forest lies immediately east of Columbia in the center of the state. Several state parks preserve open space throughout the region.
Northwestern Missouri is known for its rural farming land, Amish communities and Pony Express origins. This area supported many ambitious emigrants who journeyed west from Missouri. The Pony Express originated its brief endeavor here and is commemorated by a national memorial, as well as other small museums. State parks are the main preservation sites of this regions natural areas. There are several that provide access to hiking, picnicking, camping and mountain biking facilities.
Recreation - Missouri's southern landscapes afford a choice of scenic rivers, lakes and rolling hills on which to hike, bike, drive, fish, kayak, raft and swim. Northern natural areas provide exceptional venues for bird watching, bike touring and hiking.
Climate - Missouri experiences four distinct seasons with an average yearly temperature of 54 degrees F. Summer temperatures reach 90 degrees F often and are plagued with high humidity levels. Nighttime lows during the summer dip slightly near 70 degrees. September brings cooler fall weather with less humidity. By October nights begin to cool significantly and the fall foliage changes to brilliant hues of orange, red and yellow. Winter months bring an average of 24 inches of snow and normal temperatures average between 20 and 45 degrees F. Spring is characterized by wet weather with temperatures reaching between 32 and 60 degrees F.