Prairie State Park

Quick Facts

Prairie State Park

Missouri

(417) 843-6711

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Experience a walk through prairie grasses that tower above your head with a chance to view bison and elk. Tallgrass prairie once covered more than a third of Missouri's landscape. Today less than one percent remains. Prairie State Park, at nearly 4,000 acres, preserves Missouri's largest remaining tallgrass prairie.

The spectacular panoramic vista of Prairie State Park is a sea of grass strewn with the colors of ever-changing wildflowers. In spring, bouquets of yellow-star grass and Indian paintbrush set the stage for the courtship dance of the prairie chicken. Growing taller each day, summer wildflowers include pale purple coneflower, Mead's milkweed and prairie blazing star. By fall, grasses such as big bluestem and Indian grass may reach 8 feet high.

Enjoy the beauty and solitude of the prairie by hiking one of the park's five trails, which offer excellent opportunities for bird watching, photography and viewing wildlife and wildflowers. Check on the location of bison and elk at the visitor center before hiking. Prairie State Park's visitor center is designed to enhance the visitor's "prairie" experience with nature programs, interpretive displays and hands-on exhibits. Visitors may wish to extend the prairie experience by using the picnic area, small campground or primitive backpack camp.

Map of Prairie (MO)

Latitude, Longitude: 37.521424, -94.564100

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Activities

  • Camping

    Prairie State Park offers a small number of basic campsites and a backpack camp. These basic campsites will accommodate groups of up to 20 people. Potable water is available on the south side of the shop building before you enter the camping area. A cault toilet is the only amenity that serves the campground and backpack camp. Campfires are prohibited at the backpack camp. Please contact park staff at 417-843-6711 for more information.

  • Hiking

    Opportunities to experience the tallgrass prairie feeling await on the many connected trails of the park. These five natural surface trails are mowed and carry visitors through the prairie landscape, where early settlers once traveled. If hikers connect to each of the trails, they can hike a total of 12 miles. For your safety, please contact staff at the visitor center before hiking. For more information on the trails, visit http://mostateparks.com/trails/prairie-state-park

  • Historic Sites

    For specific tours, visit http://mostateparks.com/page/54245/interpretive-programs

    The visitor center informs, enhances and inspires your "prairie" experience. Upon entering the building, the large, central diorama depicts the prairie in spring, summer and autumn with the colors and diversity of the prairie. The "Furs and Fence Row" room flows across time and the effects of humans on the prairie. Hands-on items in the "Learning Center" allow you the chance to explore the special features of a tallgrass prairie. A 40-person capacity "audio/visual room/auditorium" offers video and more exhibits.

    A variety of site-specific prairie and bison related souvenirs can be found at the small gift shop in the visitor center. Some small items include field guides, books, stickers, postcards, keychains and stuffed animals. If you would like to have a quick snack or taste what people may have eaten more than 200 years ago, try the bison jerky and wash it down with a cool bottle of water.

  • Picnicking

    Enjoy a picnic lunch in a shady spot by a stream, over which stands a small footbridge. At this time, a hardened dirt path leads to the tables. One site has an accessible pad. All sites contain picnic tables and pedestal grills. An information kiosk provides park brochures and information. The parking lot is compacted gravel, with easy access to Coyote Trail. Vault toilets with a smooth, concrete path stand nearby. Some users may need assistance, as the clearance in front of the doors is only 4 feet wide. Inside, transfer bars are provided.

  • RVing

    RV users will find sites to fit their needs, but no electric or water service.

Seasonality/Weather

Some amenities are not available in the winter, check with park office for current information.

Directions

Driving

TEMPORARY DETOUR: 10/19/10 -- Due to a bridge repair project, the park entrance on Central Road from Route NN is temporarily closed. All visitors must use the north entrance off of Route P. Take Highway 43 to Route K; follow the signs to Route P, then to 150th Lane.

From Joplin: Prairie State Park is located 35 miles north of Joplin; travel time is about 45 minutes depending on traffic. (See temporary detour above) Travel north on Highway 43 about 25 miles to Highway 160. Turn left/west onto Highway 160 and continue for about two miles before turning right/north onto Route NN. Proceed one mile to Central Road (gravel surface); turn left/west and continue for three miles. Turn right/north onto 150th Lane and proceed about 1.3 miles to the park's visitor center.

From Kansas City: Prairie State Park is located 110 miles south of Kansas City; travel time is between two and two and one-half fours depending on traffic. (See temporary detour above) Travel south on U.S. Highway 71 to the Highway 160 (Lamar exit) and turn right/west onto Highway 160. Continue about 16 miles to Route NN and turn right/north to proceed one miles to Central Road (gravel surface). Turn left/west onto Central Road and continue for three miles before turning right/north onto 150th Lane. Proceed about 1.3 miles to the park's visitor center.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(417) 843-6711

Links