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Ozarks National Scenic Riverway

A few summers ago, my dad rode his bike across the USA from Virginia to Oregon.  You can read his blog here, or check out the article my cousin wrote about him for the Green Bay Press Gazette.  During their ride through Missouri, the group had a rest day and went to check out some Blue Spring at Alley Mill.  My dad was unable to go that day, but when he came down to visit in November, he mentioned that he still wanted to check it out.  When Don and I found out that it was part of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverway, we were totally on board for a day trip.

Ozarks National Scenic Riverways extend for a good portion of the state, and around them you can find springs, caves, waterfalls, historic mills/buildings, etc.  We chose Alley Mill and Blue Spring at my dad’s suggestion (and because it was one of the closer ones), but a friend of mine and her family have explored many of them and have yet to be disappointed!

Blue Spring was stunning!  The color of the water was so unlike anything I’ve seen before and the river flowing from it was perfect for Don to practice his photography.  It doesn’t look it, but the spring is 310 feet deep!  You could put the Statue of Liberty in the spring and her torch would still be 5 feet under water.

There is a short walking path that circles the spring, and then another longer path that goes through the woods.  Since we had Elizabeth in tow (and it was chillier than expected), we chose to do the shorter loop.

If You Go…

  • Know that the mill is only open Memorial Day through Labor Day.  If you want to go inside and see how things are set up, you should go in that time frame.
  • Bring your kayaks/canoes.  You can’t swim/boat in the spring, but the riverways have a lot of access points for enjoying the water.  Less that .5 miles down from the Spring/Mill is public campgrounds and water access.
  • Pack a picnic lunch.  Alley Mill and Blue Spring are kind of in the middle of nowhere.  There are a few towns that have some lunch options (mostly local restaurants/bars), but if you have a picky eater or are trying to stick to a budget, you’d be better off bringing your own food and enjoying the weather.
  • Don’t expect to get into any buildings in the off-season.  We went mid-November and all the buildings were closed including the bathrooms and the Ranger Station.  We saw and talked to a Ranger in his car, but when we went to get our passports stamped, it was locked up.  There are port-a-potties on site that were pretty clean and had hand sanitizer, but if you’re a person that needs an indoor bathroom – be warned.