Missourians have been spoiled for decades with an unrivaled state park and historic site system. Show-Me State residents are proud of their parks and the memories made in them. The parks have become even more popular recently as the COVID-19 pandemic began pushing people outdoors more often. In 2020, more than 21 million people took in the beauty at one of Missouri’s state parks or historic sites. That number was up by nearly 3 million and 14% from the prior year. With a beautiful parks system and that popularity, Rural Missouri is again proud to partner with Missouri State Parks to bring you the 11th annual Missouri Snapshots Photo Contest.
Missouri State Parks has something for everyone. Take a trip on the 240-mile Katy Trail. The rails-to-trails project is the perfect spot for a leisurely walk or bike ride. You won’t have to pack a lunch either as there are plenty of spots to stop along the way. Anglers annually flock to Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon where the opening day of trout season begins promptly at 6:30 a.m. on March 1. History buffs can take in the castle ruins while hiking at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton or even visit the grave of Missouri’s 22nd governor, Charles Hardin, at the Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site located just off a busy Providence Road in Columbia. After a day of hiking at Echo Bluff State Park, you can rest your head at one of their campsites or beautiful cabins.
The park system offers plenty for Missourians to enjoy, however their best attribute might be the cost of admission: $0.00. It’s funded through half of the one-tenth-of-one-percent parks, soils and water sales tax that is reconsidered by Missouri voters every 10 years and was last approved in 2016.
Rural Missouri readers and state park enthusiasts flooded the contest with more than 1,000 entries in the five categories. The judges were amazed by the photography skills and creativity of those who entered.
The judging panel was comprised of staff members from Rural Missouri and Missouri State Parks. They met in November and selected a first-, second- and third-place recipient in all five categories. First-place winners will receive a $500 Missouri State Parks prize package with the second- and third-place finishers being awarded $100 and $50 gift cards respectively. Enjoy this year’s winners!
You can learn more about Missouri State Parks online at www.mostateparks.com or by calling 800-334-6946.
“Goldilocks and Her Bear” by David Mayer, Annapolis. Echo Bluff State Park is a yearly Halloween tradition for David and his family.
“Trout Fishing the Spring Branch” by Robert Hileman, Excelsior Springs. An early autumn morning at Bennett Spring State Park was the perfect location for Robert to capture this photo of anglers at the park.
“Learning to Fish” by Lauren Knapp, Robertsville. Lauren and her family travel with a camper to different state parks. She captured this photo of her daughter, Jordan, on a day she caught three trout at Roaring River State Park.
Capture the Beauty
“First Snowfall in the Forest” by Robert Hileman, Excelsior Springs. When the first snowfall of the season hit, Robert headed straight for Big Lake State Park to capture the beauty of the winter scene.
“Frozen Falls” by Richard Lowrey, St. Louis. Richard says hikes at Don Robinson State Park are some of his and his fiancee’s favorites, especially in the winter.
“Making Lasting Memories” by Joan Garbacz, Camdenton. Joan captured this father-and-son bonding time at sunset at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.
Dusk to Dawn
“Electric Sunset” by Bret Barrier, Columbia. Bret was heading back to the trailhead at dusk and stopped to take this photo while kayaking at Finger Lakes State Park.
“Milky Way Over Mark Twain Lake” by Brad Osborne, Hannibal. Brad took advantage of a dark, moonless night to capture this 20-second exposure at Mark Twain State Park.
“Beauty Rest” by Brooke Coleman, Boonville. Before resting up for a hike on the Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail the following day, Brooke took this photo of the sleeping arrangements at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park.
Hit the Trails
“Special Kind of Trail” by Lois Comrie, Lake St. Louis. Lois captured this photo of guests enjoying a quiet morning on the water trail at Finger Lakes State Park.
“Towering Pines” by Stefanie Buchheit, Oak Ridge. Stefanie says the towering pines at Hawn State Park make her realize how small we all are.
“Fall Color at Ha Ha Tonka” by Chris Williams, Independence. Chris picked the perfect late October day to photograph the view from the start of a trail at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.
Discover the Past
“Misty Morning on the Huzzah Creek” by Richard Lowrey, St. Louis. Richard stopped at Dillard Mill State Park for the sunrise during a motorcycle trip to parks across southern Missouri.
“Looking Out” by Darci Wilson, Cameron. The castle ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park are one of the most popular spots to photograph.
“Fall at the Bridge” by Andrea Cazzell, Holt. Andrea says she loves the scenery created by the fall colors at Union Covered Bridge State Historic Site.