Special Places

Can see many hilltops after prescribed fire removed this underbrushThe Mark Twain National Forest is in the mostly rural part of Missouri commonly referred to as “the Ozarks.” Parts of the national forest are within an hour’s drive of the urban centers of St. Louis, Springfield, and Columbia and the tourist town of Branson. Small towns dot the primarily hilly and forested landscape.

On this page you’ll find some of our best-loved and unique destinations.


Cultural Resources

The history of th Ozarks is long and rich. Remnants of many different eras exist today on the Forest, including historic Civilian Conservation Corp constructions, spring powered mills, and silver mines. Take a tour of Missouris recent past by visiting one, some or all of the sites listed on the Cultural Resources page.



Wilderness is a natural area affected primarily by the forces of nature with little evidence of man's works -- where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. Many individuals seek out its peace and solitude, yet it has different meanings and values to different people depending on whether they are backpackers, hunters, photographers, or hikers. Get ready to explore the world away from people by visiting one of the seven nationally designated wilderness areas on the Mark Twain.


Natural Areas

Nineteen natural areas within the boundary of the Forest are some of the best examples of high-quality natural communities in the state. Many feature unique or special geographic features, such as karsts, are highlights of the area. These areas are also home to a wide variety of wildlife and plants.


Highlighted Areas

Glade Top National Forest Scenic Byway

Welcome to Glade Top Trail, a National Forest Scenic Byway in Missouri!

This 23-mile Scenic Byway is named for the beautiful glades that surround the ridge tops where the Scenic Byway traverses.

Along the trail are seven overlook “pull-outs” that provide panoramic views that reach to the Springfield Plateau twenty miles to the northwest and forty miles south to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas. Visit the detail stop links below for more about each of the views.

The Glade Top Trail is little changed from the original road constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930’s. For twenty-three miles, the two-lane, all weather gravel road follows narrow ridge tops rising approximately 500 feet above the surrounding rolling countryside, and overlooks and passes through many limestone/dolomite glades interspersed with open and closed woodlands.


Fun Fact: 

People have been using the word glade since the 1500s. The term was often used, not just to indicate a clearing in the woods, but one filled with sunlight.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary the word Glade is defined as “an open space surrounded by woods”. It is thought to come from the adjective glad, which also meant “shining”.

Hence, glades in Missouri are sunshine filled openings in a vast forested area.


Glade Top Trail Interpretive Tour 

(Traveling North to South) Downloadable Map.


Stops Along the Byway

Eleven Point National Scenic River

The Eleven Point National Scenic River was established in 1968 as a 44 mile scenic river, free of impoundments with a largely undeveloped shoreline and watershed. This portion of the river between Thomasville, Missouri and the Highway 142 bridge is near Gatewood, Missouri. It became one of the 8 initial units of the National Wild and Scenic River system in 1968.

The Eleven Point River meanders through the picturesque Ozark hills of southern Missouri. Its course is cut in the shadows of steep bluffs, through sloping forested valleys, and low lying riparian ecosystems. Barely more than a small stream at its upper reaches near Thomasville, it gains considerable width and depth as its proceeds south-eastward.

Springs pouring from dolomite bluffs or rushing up from a vast network of underground flow systems provide a continuous source of water and beauty. Alternating stretches of rapids and deep clear pools wind around moss covered boulders and shading bottomland hardwood trees.

Access to the River: There are currently eleven designated access points to the river by vehicle. Of these access points, 7 are managed to a standard that includes boat ramps and vault toilets. The remaining 4 access sites are managed to a lesser standard to encourage use by those wishing to avoid higher user densities. In addition, there are 8 float camps designated on the river to provide overnight camping for river users.

Who Can Use the River: The river has been designated for both motorized and non-motorized use. The motorized users must adhere to a 25 horsepower limit.

Fishing: There are opportunities aplenty for small mouth bass and pan fish. Special regulations apply. Go to www.mdc.mo.gov for more information. Trout fishing starts at the confluence of the Greer spring branch and the river. Greer is the world's 10th biggest spring and doubles the size of the river while turning it into a cold water fishery. This is the beginning of the blue ribbon trout section which extends about 6 miles to Turner Mill spring. Flies and artificial lures only are allowed (soft plastic and baits are prohibited) and there is a limit of 1 fish at least 18 inches. There is a strong population in this section of river. 

For Steam Flow and Flooding forecast visit the Quick Link section in the right column or Click here.

For More Information on floating, camping and access points on the Eleven Point Scenic River Click here.