Elephant Rocks State Park, Missouri

Elephant Rocks is one of the best kept climbing secrets of the midwest. My old college climbing club would host weekend road trips here in the fall and winter. I didn't discover it as much as I was "let in on the secret."

By far the best memory I have from here is sending my first outdoor V2. At the beginning of anyone's climbing career in the midwest, most climbs are done indoors. On my first trip to Elephant Rocks I conquered some of the sharpest, unfriendliest rock I have still had the pleasure to climb on. Standing on top of the massive granite boulder, hands bleeding, looking down at my friends who had cheered me on all the way to the top - that's what E-Rocks has to offer.

To start, walk the main trail which is called the Braille trail. Make sure to check out the Engine House Ruins trail and see the actual engine house ruins. Have lunch at the abandoned quarry out behind the park but accessible from the engine house trail. Most importantly though, leave the trail (which is encouraged by the park) and climb to the top to see sweeping views of Missouri's rolling hills and to see the rock carvings set upon massive boulders sitting on top of even more massive boulders.

These elephant sized Boulders in the park were deposited a long time ago by glaciers moving through the midwest. Run, jump, and climb across these monsters or bring a picnic and observe the rock carvings left by granite miners of the 19th century. Bring your crash pad and try some of the most unique (and possibly only) bouldering in Missouri.

Afterwards, cool off by swimming the rocky river bank of Johnson Shut Ins State Park and grab some authentic Missouri barbecue in the little town of Belleview.

Contributed by Andrew Gernigin @theroadanddrew