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Pick a Park in the Crossroads

hough most state parks are known for beautiful trails and scenery, groups will find activities to pique everyone’s interest at these four parks in the America’s Crossroads region, with state-of-the-art lodges, golf courses, guided nature tours and more.


DeGray Lake Resort State Park

Bismarck, Arkansas

Out of 52 state parks in the Natural State, DeGray Lake Resort State Park is the only resort state park, featuring sunset cruises, paddleboarding, horseback riding and an 18-hole golf course. Guests can stay in the 96-room lodge or set up a tent in the campground. For those interested in something in-between, there are also yurts, which are large dome-shaped tents with bunk beds inside.

In addition to the stunning natural scenery, the park offers a variety of tours. During the eagle tour, guests ride a boat along the shore and try to catch a glimpse of the many eagles that nest in the area during the winter.

“It’s a good photo opportunity,” said Michelle Edmonds, assistant sales director at the park. “Sometimes you see them catching a fish or flying to a nest.”

For a nighttime adventure, groups can take a golf course safari and learn about nocturnal wildlife as they ride across the course on golf carts. Many groups enjoy the lake tour and steak dinner, where guests are taken on a boat tour to a pavilion with prepared catering.

There are numerous educational programs as well, such as Edible Insects. Though it may sound like a children’s class, many adults enjoy the squeamish humor of the program, which discusses the edible insect industry and allows participants to try eating a dried cricket or a flavored mealworm. Another program is Primitive Fire, where guests learn how to build a fire the old-fashioned way using two sticks and a string.

Echo Bluff State Park

Eminence, Missouri

Though it just opened last July, Echo Bluff State Park is already drawing crowds to its brand-new lodge and beautiful trail system. The rustic-style Betty Lea Lodge features modern amenities and broad windows that overlook the surrounding scenery, as well as indoor and outdoor dining.

The park is named after a large, sheer bluff on the property, where visitors can hear their voices echo because of the rock’s concave shape. Just below the bluff, guests can swim, fish or canoe in Sinking Creek’s crystal-clear water.

There are two main trails: the Painter Ridge Trail and the Current River Trail. The Painter Ridge Trail is a mountain-biking trail with two challenge routes that feature ramps, ladder bridges and narrow balance elements. The Current River Trail spans roughly five miles and connects to Current River State Park.

“It’s a great base camp for outdoor adventures in the area,” said Steph Deidrick, communications director at for Missouri State Parks. “It’s part of an extensive trail system, with several other parks nearby.”

The lodge offers meeting and event space, and larger groups can use the Bluff Top Shelter, which accommodates up to 200 guests for weddings, corporate events and more. Throughout the year, the park also uses this amphitheater to host nature programs, movie night and history discussions about the Ozarks.