by | Jan 1, 2020

For years, Rural Missouri readers have shown and told us how much they love Missouri State Parks by entering the Missouri Snapshots Photo Contest. And what’s not to love? You can take your bike out on the Katy Trail for either a leisurely afternoon ride to the next trailhead or test your endurance and take on the entire 240-mile trail over a couple of days. Outdoors lovers can brave whatever Mother Nature throws them on March 1 at Bennett Spring for opening day of trout season. And anyone looking to spend the night can choose to sleep under the stars or inside one of the beautiful cabins at Echo Bluff.

The entire system is widely regarded as one of the finest in the United States. And best of all, there are no admission fees to any park in the system thanks to their funding through half of the one-tenth-of-one-percent parks, soils and water sales tax. And Missourians sure do take advantage of all the parks have to offer, with more than 21 million visitors in 2018.

Missouri State Parks and Rural Missouri joined forces for the ninth consecutive year to bring the contest to you, our readers. It was another banner year as shutterbugs from across the Show-Me State — and beyond — entered photos that were some of the best the judges had seen in the contest’s history. Category staples such as Fun on the Water and Capture the Beauty — traditionally the most entered category — remained popular. The Making Memories category showed off some of the best activities to reflect upon after returning home.

The results of the contest can be found on the following pages. Winners of each of the five categories will receive a $500 personalized Missouri State Parks prize package with the second- and third-place finishers being awarded a $100 and $50 gift card respectively.

You can learn more about Missouri State Parks online at or by calling 800-334-6946.

Hiker taking a rest on the Ozark trail at Taum Sauk Mountain state park

Camping in the Parks

Entrants in this category highlighted why many Missourians choose to enjoy the state park system with overnight trips. 1st: “A Room with a View” by Joyce Sheldon, House Springs. Joyce’s winning shot features a hiker needing some rest atop Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. 2nd: “Hanging Out Fireside” by Justin Smith, De Soto. Justin shows off a night of camaraderie around a firepit at St. Francois State Park. 3rd: “To the Moon and Back” by Jennifer Gaydon, Fort Leonard Wood. Evening hikes — such as this one at Meramec State Park — are a favorite family tradition for Jennifer and her military family. “We may not always be under the same roof but we will always be under the same moon and stars.”

My daughter finally had enough courage to go under the water.

Fun on the Water

Entrants in this category showed off the myriad of aquatic opportunities at Missouri’s state parks. 1st: “Hold Your Breath” by Justin Smith, De Soto. Justin used his GoPro to capture his daughter dipping underwater at Sam A. Baker State Park. 2nd: “Catch of the Day” by Joyce Sheldon, House Springs. Joyce shot this photo of a fisherman with his catch at Bennett Spring State Park. 3rd: “Stepping Stones” by John Corn, Centerview. John took advantage of a beautiful Missouri day and captured this photo at Knob Noster State Park.




My little sister running through the covered bridge at Burfordville over the Whitewater River.

Discover the Past

Entrants were tasked with showcasing the various historical aspects found throughout the Missouri State Park and Historic Site system. 1st: “Bridge to the Past” by Erica Cooley, Jackson. Erica captured a photo of her younger sister running through the covered bridge at Bollinger Mill State Historic Site. 2nd: “Ghosts of the Past” by Joyce Sheldon, House Springs. Joyce noticed the details with a Civil War reenactor and the tools of their trade at Arrow Rock State Historic Site. 3rd: “Veranda View” by Gary Fern, Gravois Mills. Gary was struck by the light on the tower while walking around Ha Ha Tonka State Park.






“Fall foliage, Elephant Rocks, sunset, and Yoga.. doesn’t get any more peaceful than that. A great place to relax and unwind. “

Making Memories

Entrants were asked to show off some of their most memorable experiences inside Missouri’s state parks. 1st: “Yoga in the Park” by Richard Lowrey, Cedar Hill. A sunset yoga session at Elephant Rocks State Park was the perfect way to unwind. 2nd: “Unforgettable” by Dawn Hulvey, Birch Tree. Dawn was blown away with her visit to one of Missouri’s newest state parks. “Our first time seeing the bluff at Echo Bluff State Park and WOW! It really is an unforgettable sight.” 3rd: “Helping Hands” by Justin Smith, De Soto. Justin documented a group backpacking adventure through Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.


Fall colors create a beautiful landscape at Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Capture the Beauty

A contest mainstay, Capture the Beauty continues to be our most popular category year after year. Readers entered pictures depicting the beauty of the parks throughout the state. 1st: “Fall Colors at Ha Ha Tonka” by Allin Sorenson, Springfield.  Allin’s hike through the popular Camden County state park highlighted the beautiful fall colors Missourians enjoy. 2nd: “Fall Sunrise” by Steve Jett, Wentzville. Steve and his drone were up early capturing the view from above Lake Lincoln at Cuivre River State Park. 3rd: “From the top to the Falls” by Richard Lowrey, Cedar Hill. Richard found this spot on a hike at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. “Near the highest point in Missouri, it’s easy to see what makes this state so beautiful.”

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