The moment you drive into Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Mo., you are taken by its natural beauty.
It is set in a deep, narrow valley, with a beautiful stream flowing through rocky terrain. Steep hills stretch to the horizon and the early-morning mist rising from the water adds to the scene.
Roaring River is best known for its outstanding trout fishing. The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks the stream daily during the designated fishing season.
But it has much more to offer. It features seven hiking trails, which lead to rock structures such as the Devil’s Kitchen, deep hollows, hardwood forests, small Ozark streams and vistas atop dolomite glades.
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The state park also offers campsites along the stream, rustic cabins, and the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center, which offers 26 guest rooms.
The state park is especially popular during the fall, when the leaves turn colors and the steep, wooded hillsides are painted yellow, orange and red. The catch-and-keep fishing season remains open through Oct. 31, but the state park remains open in the late fall and winter.
Some hikers relish the winter months, when a dusting of snow gives the park a special kind of beauty and solitude.
There is plenty to offer for history buffs, too. Settlers discovered the area in the early 1800s and cabins soon began to show up in the valley. By the time the Civil War broke out, the Roaring River valley and its steep canyon-like gorges provided perfect hideouts for bushwackers.
By the early 1900s, Roaring River earned a reputation as being a fishing retreat. A St. Louis businessman bought 2,400 acres surrounding the river in 1928, and he soon donated the land to the state. Many of the park’s facilities today were building during the Depression by the Conservation Civilian Corps.
Today, the park is administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.