Elephant Rocks State Park - Atlas Obscura

Elephant Rocks State Park

Iron Township, Missouri

Giant granite rocks standing end-to-end like a train of circus elephants. 


About 1.5 billion years ago, hot magma cooled forming coarsely crystalline red granite, which later weathered into huge, rounded boulders. Standing atop a granite outcrop, one of the largest elephant rocks, Dumbo, tops the scales at a unreal 680 tons.

Visitors to Elephant Rocks State Park can easily view the granite boulders from the one-mile Braille Trail, designed to accommodate people with visual or physical disabilities. The trail passes by a quarry pond, which now supports a variety of animal life. A short spur off of the trail takes visitors to the top of the granite outcrop, where they can explore the maze of giant elephant rocks.

A second spur brings visitors to a point overlooking an old quarry site. This red granite, first commercially quarried in the late 1800s, has been used as building material and as paving blocks for the St. Louis levee and downtown streets. Today, “Missouri Red” granite is cut and polished mainly for use as monuments. Picnic sites allow visitors to rest and have a cool drink among the stone pachyderms.

Know Before You Go

From St. Louis Take I-55 south out of St. Louis to U.S. Hwy. 67, just south of the Festus (Route A) exit. Turn right (Exit 174) onto southbound U.S. Hwy. 67 and drive past Bonne Terre, Park Hills, Leadington and into Farmington. On the south side of Farmington is the State Road 221 overpass. Exit onto State Road 221 and travel for 9 miles. When you reach the intersection with Route NN, go straight onto Route NN. Continue for 8 miles to a flashing stoplight at a three-way stop. Turn right onto northbound Hwy. 21 and travel two miles. The park entrance is on right side of road. The trip is about one and one half hours long.

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