Fun Family Activities to Explore Missouri Geology This Summer

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To help families celebrate Missouri’s geology and history this summer, geologists at The Doe Run Company recommend a few must-see locations and activities to visit throughout the state.

Missouri’s natural beauty and landscapes provide exciting and educational summer activities for the whole family. At Southeast Missouri parks, you can view natural bridges perched 100 feet in the air, swim among rock features created more than a billion years ago, and see how Missouri’s unique geology shaped a successful mining and minerals industry in the state.

“The unique natural geology of Southeast Missouri that produced one of the world’s largest lead mining districts also provides fun recreational activities,” said Tom Schott, district manager, exploration and geology at The Doe Run Company (Doe Run).

To help families celebrate the state’s geology and history this summer, Doe Run’s geologists recommended a few must-see locations and activities in Missouri to visit.

“We hope kids will have as much fun exploring Missouri’s geology as we do,” added Schott. “And just maybe they’ll think about exploring a career in geology!”

  • Bonne Terre Mine was founded in the 1860s and is reportedly one of the earliest lead mining shafts in the United States. It operated until 1962. Now, visitors to this national historic site can scuba dive to view the historic mining equipment preserved within the Billion Gallon Lake. Not up for a dive? You can enjoy a guided walking tour to see where miners worked for around 100 years, or take a boat tour. Bonne Terre Mine is located in Bonne Terre, Missouri, with summer hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, open seven days per week.
  • Learn how early lead mining helped develop the cities and economy of Southeast Missouri at the Missouri Mines State Historic Site in Park Hills, Missouri. Once an active lead mining operation, the site now boasts a museum for the area’s lead mining history. Summer hours run April through October: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Elephant Rocks State Park's giant pink granite boulders weigh more than 600 tons and stand over 20 feet tall. Kids can climb on the rocks and learn about the site’s past as the home of quarries used to mine red granite for building material and the paving blocks that make up the St. Louis levee and downtown streets. The park also features an interpretive Braille trail that winds through the rocks and a playground for younger children. The park is located in Iron County and open during the summer from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park has been named one of the 10 best swimming holes in the country in 2018 by USA Today. It features exciting chutes and waterfalls within canyon-like gorges that were created more than a billion years ago when ancient volcanic rocks were eroded to form the Shut-Ins, which are now part of the Black River that flows through the park. Visitors can explore the different swimming areas, jump from cliffs into the water and hike in the park. River hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Shut-Ins are located in Lesterville, Missouri.
  • Ha Ha Tonka State Park, located in Camdenton, Missouri, showcases the state’s karst geology, which includes features like streams and caves. The park has a natural bridge that is 70 feet wide, 60 feet long and more than 100 feet above ground. Whispering Dell sink basin is 150 feet deep with two bluff shelters – Counterfeiter's Cave and Robber's Cave – both of which were used as outlaw hide-outs in the 1830s. Several trails make it easy for visitors to experience this honeycomb of tunnels, caves, springs and sinkholes, which are all common features in the karst topography of the area. The park’s summer hours run 7 a.m. to sunset daily, April through October.
  • Missouri State Museum, located in Jefferson City, Missouri, puts Missouri’s history up on display. A great gallery to check out is the Resources Hall, which tells the story of Missouri’s natural resources, as well as how human and natural resources have interacted. This museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, year-round (excluding New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas).

Each school year, Doe Run also partners with local schools upon request to share interactive activities that further engage students in minerals education. In addition, the company co-sponsors the annual Fall Rocks event along with the Missouri Mines State Historic Site. Generally held in October, this free and family-friendly event offers fun and educational activities to learn more about Missouri’s mineral resources, and how mining has shaped the state’s economy. Requests to visit area schools can be shared with Rhonda Reed at (573) 626-3315.

About The Doe Run Company
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, The Doe Run Company is a privately held natural resources company and a global provider of lead, copper and zinc concentrates. Dedicated to environmentally responsible mineral and metal production, Doe Run operates one of the world’s largest, single-site lead recycling centers, located in Boss, Missouri, and mines from one of the world’s largest lead mining districts, also in Missouri. The Doe Run Company and its subsidiaries deliver products and services necessary to provide power, protection and convenience. Doe Run has operations in Missouri, Washington and Arizona. For more information, visit


Editors’ Note: Photos of the Missouri Mines State Historic Site, Elephant Rocks State Park, Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park sites are available through the Missouri State Parks at the links provided. Please follow the license terms.

High-resolution photos of minerals education and Fall Rocks activities are available from Doe Run upon request to ehuck(at)standingpartnership(dot)com.

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Maggie Donnelly
Standing Partnership
+1 (314) 287-6356
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