After some much-appreciated family bonding time, we set off for the Bonne Terre Mine near Festus. When this working mine was shut down, it was purchased by private investors and filled with water. Now it is a scuba diver’s wonderland, known throughout the world. The water is clear and pure, and no motors are allowed in. There are no fish, but you can swim through the old mine shafts and tunnels, where the leftover mining gear was never removed.
We did not scuba, but did go on a walking & non-motorized boat tour. It was hauntingly beautiful, creepy, dark (something I had trouble capturing with my cheap point & shoot camera). I couldn’t help imagining that I was in a scene from Lord of the Rings.
Bonne Terre will soon be opening its waters to kayakers as well.
My dad grew up in Saint Louis, and our family lived there until we moved to Colorado when I was 4. My dad used to go camping every weekend, so I consider him an expert when it comes to the Missouri outdoors. I asked him what his favorite area was, and he told us to stop along the Current River near Van Buren. It wasn’t exactly on the way back to Dallas, but we took the detour anyway.
True to its name, the Current River has a pretty fast current. The part where we were was not white water, but it was fast enough that the dogs were terrified to go in. There were lots of people playing in and near the water: tubing, swimming, suntanning.
We were hoping to see some Ozark Hellbenders (large flat salamanders that aren’t found anywhere else in the world), but no luck. We did, however, find this little lizard sitting inside the check-in box outside our campsite.
I’d love to go back and explore the Current River properly… and the rest of Missouri for that matter. Lucky for me it’s not too far away, so maybe we’ll get another chance this summer.