Family Weekender: St. Louis

Mingo Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
By Gary Lantz
Go Guide: Mingo Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Activities: Small boating and canoeing, fishing, hiking, wildlife observation and nature study.

Age Levels: All ages.

Hours from St. Louis: About two hours.

Getting There: From US Hwy 60 in Poplar Bluff travel east 14 miles to Hwy 51. Take 51 north at Fisk Drive for 13.5 miles. The entrance to Mingo is one mile north of Puxico on the west side of the highway.

Contact: Mingo Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, (573)222-3589.

Reference: The Terrestrial Natural Communities of Missouri by Paul Nelson. Missouri Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

Extra Treats: The Mingo visitor center next to the main parking area at the refuge.


The Mingo National Wildlife Refuge contains 27,000 acres of bottomland forest and cypress swamp — fascinatingly, once this was the bed of the Mississippi River.

Over time, the Mississippi changed course, leaving behind flooded lowlands, twisting streams and giant timber reminiscent of swamplands much further south.

Visitors may wish to paddle the twisting streams that snake between giant cypress trees, walk any or all of three hiking trails, or experience the boardwalk nature trail leading into the heart of Rockhouse Cypress Marsh.

The refuge has four observation towers offering panoramic views of the vast wetland network. Wildlife sightings may include ducks, geese, swans and wintering bald eagles. Deer are common, while mink and otters can sometimes be seen in the marsh.

For those who'd rather do their wildlife viewing from a car, the refuge offers a 25-mile auto route tour, open in April, October and November.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 16 Jun 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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