Home to many of Missouri's spring-fed streams and crystal clear waters, Southeast Missouri truly is a haven for nature lovers. The extreme southeastern corner, known as the “Bootheel” because of its shape, is rich in Missouri history and agriculture. Southeast Missouri gives you the feel of the Deep South with the southern drawls, cotton fields and home cooking. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways are also home to some of the most beautiful countryside and trails and streams in the country. So, whether your family is hiking, exploring caves or floating down a winding stream, you'll never want to leave the region!
Nestled in the south-central Ozarks Highland region, the City of Rolla is home to Missouri University of Science and Technology, Missouri's premier technological research university, and boasts a history that predates the Civil War.
Miles of canoeing rivers, including the Jack's Fork and Current, part of America's first national scenic river ways, take paddlers through the picturesque woods and bluffs. Gently rolling countryside dips into valleys, where creeks wind through fertile farmland. River towns and quaint country villages charm guests with their turn-of-the-century architecture, antique shops and historical sites. Take a break at Alley Spring near Eminence to explore a historic gristmill, painted a vibrant red. Farther downstream, near Van Buren, is one of America's largest springs, Big Spring.
Begin a Meramec River float at Ononodaga Cave in Leasburg or you can put in your canoe at Steelville or Bourbon with any number of outfitters that serve the area. In Poplar Bluff, two historical museums and the Margaret Harwell Art Museum are among the town's attractions. Just north is 8,400-acre Wappapello Lake, best known for its winter and spring crappie fishing. Mark Twain National Forest, also on the lake, makes up a significant part of the region. Wildflowers nod in the breeze and the scent of cedar fills the air as riders and hikers enjoy miles of trails.
To the west of Thayer is Grand Gulf State Park, which resembles a mini-Grand Canyon. Giant red boulders perch atop Ozark hills making up Elephant Rocks State Park near Ironton. Climb to the top of Taum Sauk Mountain, Missouri's highest point, and then splash in at Johnson's Shut-Ins and explore the Black River's unusual carvings through Missouri's oldest exposed rock.
From Lesterville, canoeists can enjoy many miles of the Black River before it widens into scenic Clearwater Lake. Marinas, beaches, lodging and campgrounds are abundant, with more services just east at Piedmont.
The area from Fredericktown north to Bonne Terre was once the world's largest lead-mining district. At Bonne Terre, you can walk the wide passageways of the world's largest man-made caverns, or scuba-dive in its billion-gallon underground lake.
On the eastern side of this region, begin exploring the Great River Road at Ste. Genevieve. The first French settlers came to Ste. Genevieve in 1735. Today, this colonial village features roughly 50 historic buildings built in the French Creole style - many are open for tours. See Indian artifacts and Civil War relics at the Ste. Genevieve Museum. Maps for self-guided tours are available at the Great River Road Interpretive Center. Relax at the Ste. Genevieve Winery downtown, and then stay over at one of the many historically restored bed-and-breakfast inns in town.
At Trail of Tears State Park in Jackson you can take in the solitude of the dark green forest or stand on limestone bluffs and embrace the majesty of the Mississippi. Walk a nature trail, camp or picnic. The park is part of the route that Cherokee Indians took on their forced march to a reservation in Oklahoma. Near Burfordville is Bollinger Mill with a four-story gristmill and covered bridge.
A little south is Cape Girardeau, the largest of these picturesque river towns, a city that treasures its historical roots. Visitors can share in this heritage at the Cape River Heritage Museum. You can see the floodgates downtown that have saved the town from the river's rampage numerous times.
In Charleston, you can tour beautiful Victorian homes as well as the lovely gardens surrounding them. Each April, Charleston hosts its annual Dogwood-Azalea Festival and the entire town glows with the beauty cast by millions of colorful dogwood and azalea blossoms. The magnificent blooms helped earn Charleston's rating in Travel Holiday magazine as one of the 10 best small towns in America (April 2003 issue.)
In Sikeston-Miner, Lambert's Cafe, home of the famous "throwed rolls," will lure you off the interstate for a satisfying meal. One of the nation's best rodeos, the Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo, is held here in August. In New Madrid, visit Higgerson School, a restored one-room schoolhouse and the Hunter-Dawson Home State Historic Site, an antebellum mansion.
Enjoy gaming excitement aboard the Casino Aztar at Caruthersville, or visit Bloomfield, the birthplace of the military's Stars and Stripes newspaper during the Civil War. Southeast Missouri is a region of great beauty and quiet charm with plenty to enjoy for everyone.
Community Health Centers in this region include Missouri Highlands Health Care, in Ellington, Cross Trails Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Southeast MO Health Network in New Madrid, and Southern MO Community Health Center in West Plains.
Critical Access Hospitals in this region include Parkland Health Center-Bonne Terre, Perry County Memorial Hospital, Washington County Memorial Hospital, Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital, Advanced Healthcare Medical Center, Madison Medical Center, Iron County Hospital and Salem Memorial District Hospital.
For additional information regarding this region such as individual county HPSA status or loan repayment eligibility, please contact Joni Adamson.
** Images and photos are courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism **