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Echo Bluff State Park Opens

leah kirk

Echo Bluff State Park, located about 20 minutes north of Eminence, Missouri and 2 1/2 hours east of Springfield, opened this month. It was a fast-track project that took just under three years to build. It's Missouri's 88th state park. The park will rent kayaks for use on Sinking Creek and nearby Current River and sell inflatable rings for bobbing along the creek. Local float trip outfitters can be arranged through the front desk to pick up paddlers at the lodge and take them to some spectacular put-in spots on the Current and Jacks Fork rivers in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways national park.

The park has 12 elevated wooden platforms on which to pitch your tent in the woods. But there's also a state-of-the-art lodge with 20 rooms that can accommodate up to 78 people, most with a view of towering Echo Bluff, a curved rock wall carved by the ever-flowing Sinking Creek. RV campers have their choice of 62 concrete-pad campsites — all with water and electric hookups and some with their own sewer stations.

The lodge features two-story-tall windows in the commons area that showcase the park's most prominent features — the tall, curving bluff and crystal clear Sinking Creek. Up to 80 people can dine outside on the lodge's deck, or take their meals inside. The lodge has a laundry area for visitors, and a small store that will sell basic grocery items as well as wine, beer, firewood and fishing bait.

Across from the lodge are nine modern cabins ranging from a four-bedroom fully equipped place that can accommodate up to 12 people, to four stacked duplex cabins, each with full kitchen and separate bedroom areas. All the cabins feature leather furniture, wood or gas-burning fireplaces, and TVs. Echo Bluff State Park is just a quarter mile away from one of Missouri's most popular paddling destinations, the Current River.