7390, 7406 MO-21, Belleview, MO 63623
Where is Elephant Rocks State Park
Located in Missouri, just east of Mark Twain National Forest, is Elephant Rocks State Park. The park is about a 1.5-hour drive south of the city of St. Louis. The closest towns are Pilot Knob an 8-minute drive south, then Ironton another 2-minutes south of Pilot Knob.
The park is a 2-minute drive from the historic granite mining town of Graniteville. Graniteville holds many historical sites of past mining of granite in the area but does not have any services. The closest services are in Pilot Knob.
How Big is Elephant Rocks State Park
Elephant Rocks US State Park is 133.75-acres of explorable terrain featuring the giant elephant granite rocks. The base elevation of the park is 1,273 feet. The tallest rock reaches up 27 feet tall offering great bouldering and rock climbing. The boulders vary in size and height and the landscape is constantly changing as the seasons and years erode away at the land, revealing more boulders.
The park is popular among geologists and rock enthusiasts to view the large granite elephant sized rocks lined up against each other. There is no exact count of how many boulders are in the park. The largest of the Elephant shaped rocks is nicknamed Dumbo and is 27 feet tall, 34 feet long, 17 feet wide, and weighs 680 tons.
Elephant Rocks State Park Weather
The weather here varies with the seasons having cooler winters and warmer summers. The rainfall is steady year-round with an average of 4 inches of rain a month. May is historically the rainiest month with an average of 5.5 inches of rain a month.
Summers from May through September are warm with an average high of 80 degrees. July is the warmest month with an average high of 88 degrees. The average low during the summer is in the 60’s. Summer days are most often sunny with occasional thunderstorms rolling through in the afternoon.
In October the temperature cools down to an average high of 69 degrees. Winter from December through February has an average high in the 40’s. Winter can be cold with temperatures reaching down to a low of 20 degrees. Because of the chilly winters, the park is mainly visited from May through September.
When did Elephant Rocks become a State Park
The elephant shaped granite rocks were formed over 1.5 billion years ago and have been a center focus for geologists and history buffs. The landscape is constantly changing making it a geologist’s playground to explore.
In the 1840’s the pink granite rocks were quarried, naming the nearby town Graniteville. Graniteville was established in 1874 and remained in operation until 1913. The granite that was quarried can be seen today on St. Louis streets, piers, and columns in the city. The granite is nicknamed “Missouri Red” for its red color.
The rocks have stood throughout history of the area and have remanence of the past left on them. Miners who worked in the area carved their names and comments into the red granite in the 19th century and can be seen today on the rocks.
The state park was established in 1967 after geologist John Stafford donated the land to be preserved as a state park to be enjoyed by all of the public.
Things to do in Elephant Rocks State Park
Elephant Rocks State Park is open year-round offering day use activities such as hiking, bouldering and climbing, 30 picnic sites, a playground, and several lakes to fish in. The park also has a food truck to enjoy some good eats. The park can be enjoyed by all ages and all hiking levels. The park is easily accessed by vehicle and the trails are ADA accessible. The trails are all paved and rated as easy. Our State Park Visitors Guide outlines activities below.
Hike the Braille Trail
A 1-mile interpretive trail designed for visual and physical disabled people winds through the main area of the rocks. The first type of trail for disabled people in Missouri.
Hike the Fat Man’s Squeeze
A spur off the main Braille Trail leads you to a narrow gap between two boulders. The gap leads you to an abandoned quarry.
Hike the Maze
The Maze is a 100 foot section of boulders with a trail winding through them like a maze. Explore the boulders in depth on this maze trail. Keep an eye out for any carvings on the boulder that the miners may have left.
Picnic near the rocks and trees at one of the 30 picnic sites available.
Grab lunch at the food truck
Available Friday- Sunday serving quick eats and drinks.
Climb the rocks
Climbing or bouldering is available from October to April on the elephant shaped rocks. You must be registered to climb the rocks and have permits.
Enjoy the playgroundThe park features a playground with a slide and swings making it a very family friendly park to keep the children entertained.
Fish in the lakes
There are several lakes to catch pan fish such as bluegill.
Visit the oldest commercial granite quarry
A 2-minute drive outside of the park is the historic mining town of Graniteville hosting the oldest commercial granite quarry.
When to go to Elephant Rocks State Park
The park is open year-round for day use only. There is no camping or overnight use. From April to October, the hours are 8am to 8pm. During the winter from November through March, the hours are 8am to 5pm. A food truck is open in the park Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 4pm.
Elephant Rocks State Park sees the highest visitation during the summer months from May through September. The park can be enjoyed at all times of the day with a steady flow of visitation throughout the day. Parking is easily available, and the park does not see overcrowding.
Must-Have things to bring to Elephant Rocks State Park
Elephant Rocks State Park has a food truck available on the weekends from Friday- Saturday serving food and drinks. The park offers limited other services, so bring all of your own equipment and hiking gear.
Proper Hiking Boots
If you plan on hiking around the rocks, List of Parks advises bringing solid hiking boots to withstand the rough granite of the rocks that wear through shoes easily.
From October to April temperatures can be chilly. Bring lots of warm layers.
Summer temperatures can reach up into the high 80’s. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen to withstand the hot sun.
Picnic gear and good
Enjoy a picnic at one of the 30 sites available. Pack your own lunch from the nearby grocery store in Pilots Knob.
There is fishing available in the park in several small lakes created by quarrying operations in the 1800s. Pan fish such as bluegill can be caught in the lakes. Bring your own fishing gear to through a line in the small lakes.
Where to stay in Elephant Rocks State Park
While there is not a campground within the state park, five minutes down the road is County Line Bar and Campground offering campsites by reservation and a restaurant. In the town of Pilot Knob just a 5-minute drive south, there is Fort Davidson Hotel and Shepherd Mountain Inn & Suites to stay at. There are also a variety of other bed and breakfast options to stay at in Pilot Knob.
Another five minutes south is the larger town of Ironton and Arcadia. Both towns offer more historic bed and breakfasts to stay at such as the Parlor Bed and Breakfast. There are also a few hotels to stay at.
Food Nearby Elephant Rocks State Park
There is a food truck available in the park serving hot dogs, brats, shaved ice, nachos, chips, and drinks available from Friday through Sunday. Five minutes down the road is County Line Bar and Campground offering American food at the bar.
Pilot Knob is the closest town an 8-minute drive south offering a variety of restaurants and a grocery store. Enjoy one of the local cafes such as The Rustler Café or FDC Fort Davidson Café. Try some famous BBQ at Baylee Jos BBQ.
Airports near Elephant Rocks State Park
St. Louis Lambert International Airport is the closest major airport located about an hour and a half drive away into the city of St. Louis. Flying into the international airport and renting a car is the best way to enjoy Elephant Rocks. Farmington Regional Airport- Fam is the closest regional airport only a 30-minute drive away. This small airport only serves regional flights from nearby areas.