Natural resource PR doesn’t really reach my corner of Missouri. I suspect advertising for those ventures are more aimed at people in Kansas City and St. Louis. For the longest time, I thought Missouri was nothing but corn and fields. I think a lot of people feel this way.
Weekend country road drives with Jon have revealed secrete pockets of my own corner–limestone bluffs and shallow creeks with bedrock floors. It’s so lovely, so country, but so inaccessible. It’s all private, and no one wants to give you permission to crawl around on their property.
So it came as a surprise to me when I first heard about Elephant Rocks on, of all places, Pinterest. Elephant Rocks is a natural feature in the Ozarks where enormous pink granite boulders have thrust their shoulders up out of the ground and to simply wait, shrugging in time. Best of all? It’s a free state park. The second I saw it, I knew I had to go.
I meant to write about this place months ago but for some reason never got around to it. The most gorgeous time to see it has got to be in the fall, when the late afternoon light is thick and gold. It was a long drive from home, so I left early in the morning, just me and Pax. Once I got past Springfield, my phone lost GPS reception. I was driving blind. It didn’t take long for the roads to narrow. If there was a main highway wider than two lanes, I never found it. I loved every second of the drive.
Late in the day, I started seeing these hills rising up at the edges of fields. Hills? They call them mountains here. Either way, they were a welcome site.
I got to the park about an hour before sunset. Because of its location, I really wasn’t expecting any crowds, but the parking lot was packed. A lot of people seemed to be picnicking and hanging out with their families at tables on the perimeter of the parking lot. I didn’t worry too much about trying to find a main trail. I just headed straight into the woods and started hoofing it up the rocks.
Even though it’s granite, it’s not slick, which made for easy climbing for old Pax and was perfectly grippy on my tennis shoes.
I was blown away by the rocks. They’re enormous, hence the name “Elephant Rocks,” but they’re also sloping and hinged in the low points. It’s Precambrian granite, some 4 million or more years old.
All the earth under our feet is ancient, of course, but there’s something so moving about seeing its skeleton exposed like this. It felt holy; amazing to find a holy place in Missouri.
I spent about an hour and half, just walking around with Pax. She was so good. She is always good, my faithful companion, forever my friend. People kept stopping to pet her, which she gladly accepted. In a secluded rock inlet on the backside of the park, I set-up the self-timer and tried to get some photos of us. Later when I got home, I spent a few minutes editing them and then promptly forgot about them until now.
Months later, I’ve been amazed by how few fellow Missourians I’ve met that have made the trek out to see it. I’m grateful to have seen it, grateful to have gone.
Is it possible to be nostalgic for your own life? I am. Gladly so.