The Ozarks has it all! Springs, rivers, waterfalls and swamps! So much to see and now we are fighting a little with time to fit it all in.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways has been our home for a few days now. We’ve enjoyed the huge free-flowing Current River and we’ve seen many springs which gush millions of gallons every day in powerful, rolling, steady bursts of water revealing subterranean rivers flowing through eroded subsurface limestone (karst) and helping to carve the water table even deeper into the landscape. There are many caverns too which we didn’t explore. All this captured the attention of the US Congress and in 1964 it authorised 134 miles of rivers as the first National Scenic Riverways. These rivers will never be dammed. They will always be wild and free-flowing. The park exists to protect these largely spring-fed streams running through some of the Ozark’s most beautiful scenery.
It is another fabulous Autumn day. The Blonde sets off early to get more dawn photos of Echo Bluff before leaving Echo Bluff State Park, whilst I get Big Henry ready for todays travels. We are going to visit some of the special springs featured in thia area....first stop Round Spring. Incredible.
This is just down the road and near to the campground we had rejected because of the layout. This is the 16th largest spring in Missouri with a daily flow of 26 million gallons of water. The circular pool of milky blue water is fed by an outlet about 50 feet below. And steam was still coming off the water as it flows to join the Current River in the cool morning.
Next on the long list of things to see today was Alley Mill and Alley Spring to the west of Eminence. This beautifully restored mill sits on a turquoise spring 156 feet deep which is Missouri’s 7th largest spring. Water flows out at 81 million gallons per day into the Jacks Fork River, the second of the two rivers in Missouri that are part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways system. The Mill was built in 1894 and became the largest mill operating in the region.
Great photo by The Blonde of Alley Mill.
The Blonde - Just some of the many Fall decorations we’re seeing around the region. Pumpkins, hay bales and chrysanthemums galore, and wonderful local characters! I love it!
A great deall of effort goes into making these characters.
Another harvest/fall display this one outside Alley Mill.
I was just a little bit chuffed to be asked here how to take a photograph with silky looking water. I think the lady even said I looked like a professional!!!!! Well....I am tyrying hard to get those special shots...hope they look good to you?
OK, enough of the mill! Time to move on. It’s 11am already and we still have lots more to do and see. Next stop is Blue Spring. Jack from Running River Canoe Hire had told us to park at Powder Mill campground and hike to Blue Spring along Current River. Well, the track was just a liitle bit overgrown. In fact it was a jungle in places but the river was really pretty. We gave Blue Spring a huge WOW when we arrived - as did everyone else that came in from the nearer carpark.
Incredible deep blue surround by emerald green weeds, watercress and mosses and miniature cascades as the water runs over a row of rocks.This is the State’s 6th largest spring with a daily flow of 90 million gallons. It has been mapped by divers to a depth of 310 feet. We hung around a while for the sun to come over the top and change the colour from the deep blue to emerald but time was moving on and what we had seen was already stunningly beautiful.
The Blonde looking for that close up of Blue Spring.
Next stop, Rocky Falls - the biggest waterfall in this part of the Ozarks. We were a bit disappointed. The sun was shining directly on to the small amount of water coming over the head of the falls. You needed to wade in to get any photo but the water was....way, way too cold - well to be honest we didn’t test to see if was too cold,... as a man leaving the site informed us through chattering teeth and wet shorts!
The slightly disappointing Rocky Falls....with little water.
On to what I REALLY wanted to see today. Took some finding down forest roads but we got there in the end. Cupola Pond with ancient water tupelo trees in the swamp. It was MAGIC!!! And this almost deserves a whole separate entry. I was very, very excited here and I love my photos. This Natural Area is a combination of a sinkhole pond (swamp I called it!) and water tupelo trees. I had been poring over photographs of these fabulous trees with their enormous elephant like feet for days. They were magical and the whole area was like something out of a fantasy novel.
The whole feel was so cool, green and the late afternoon sun low In the sky was dappling the trees and making twinkling reflections on the water. I needed to get wet up to the top of my boots for the second time today and I needed to work quickly as it was now already after 4pm and I didn’t know how much light I would have.
David took his photos and left squealing from the mosquitoes! I had sprayed earlier in the day thank goodness so I was able to ignore their invasion.
How these trees got here is a mystery which adds to the magic of the place. The trees are typically found growing in the Botheel swamps over 60 miles to the east of here and not in the Ozark hills. The huge buttresses give them support in the unstable swamp.
I walked all the way around the swamp but came back to my two favourite trees which would have been 6-7 meters in diameter at the bottom.
On the advice of a couple of men who were camped at the swamp with their horse trailer, horses, camp beds and guns we headed to West Plains to overnight at a Walmart. It has been a very exciting day. We did heaps but we also had to leave heaps out. We didn’t get to Big Spring, Greer Spring or Grand Bluffs. But that makes for a good reason to come back again to this area in the future.