Those who read the last post will know that this trip to Patterson MO and Sam A Baker State Park was taken as a short healing journey to get away and to let the ancient igneous Saint Francois Mountains, that rise over the Ozark Plateau, do their magic.
We live in Missouri and over the last 20 years of vigorous camping had not landed upon this CCC campground until now. Everything has its time I guess and perhaps saving it for the moment when we needed a close, fresh, new, beautiful escape was all part of the bigger plan.
The park greets you with two charming CCC buildings and welcomes you into a welcome center/museum, rustic CCC cabins, a camp store, float/canoe rentals and a seasonal dining lodge and very nice wooded campsites, a small laundry facility and a newer shower building in the campground. Trails lead you out to a beautiful natural formation of worn rocks, with cascading waters, called shut-ins, that pretty much everyone in Missouri knows as a beautiful and enjoyable way to cool off on hot sultry Missouri summer days. It’s about a mile and a quarter hike down to this pristine part of the Big Creek. Wear your swimsuit on a hot day. It’s lovely there.
Be warned that this black bear territory so keep a clean campsite and be observant on the trails.
The park is bordered by the St. Francis river and the Big Creek. The Big Creek floats shallowly and lazily along under the viaduct (with a nice swimming spot) and then down past the campsites. We were in the second campground before the equestrian camp. A path led right out of our site to an easy access spot–perfect for romping with the dogs and just enjoying the mountain knob and the colorful variety of Ozark stones.
It was here that I did my thinking on the blog–just watching the river ebb and flow. It was a very quiet Sunday morning. Accompanied only by a flock of river crows sailing in and around us all morning, it was the river that kept constantly shifting and presenting new ideas and beauties. In one instant cool and clear as glass, the next windswept tick brought tight fan ripples on the leading edges of the shallow waves. Then, as if changed by the act of being observed, cross winds picked up and created a magical sacred geometry formation on the water–rippling out in all directions without end. It’s hard to see such amazing beauty and not be changed by it. It’s hard to sit in the cool waters surrounded by those you love, the sun shining on your skin, the intense reds, golds, whites, purples ochres and blacks of the rocks shinning in the crystal clear water under you and not feel the connection to all that is.
The longer we sat in flow, the more creatures came to be with us. At one point I had several pairs of Damsel flies doing their odd mating rituals on my arms. Later I was sitting in a dancing blur of yellow butterflies–Carpe Diem in flight. Throughout it all, our dogs were romping and rolling in the sand and stream showing us that play is a form of expressing love, too. Bliss. This is why we love to camp. This is it.
When we came home, a trusted friend told us about a hidden gem of a Cajun restaurant that; “Rivals any one might find in Louisiana”. Though we missed it this time, Park Road Bar and Grill in Patterson will be on the itinerary next trip–without fail!
Oh, and one other bit of useful info for those that travel without reservations like we do, they have a new system of tagging the posts that gives the check out date with just a tiny marking for the check in date–confusing! And, if the post says it’s got one night availability and doesn’t have a paper tag, it’s probably available for longer–you just need to check at the fee station attached to the welcome center (the building with the tall brown tower in the middle.)
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