Now is a good time for locals to journey to Welch Spring and, along the way, visit Round Spring and Echo Bluff. Families will surely enjoy the small, delicate ecosystems, more sensitive to disturbance than the river and the ruins of a hospital, a doctor built over the mouth of a cave, believing the cool, pollen-free air from the cave and the spring water had healing properties.
Flow Gallons per day: 26 million
Located 63 miles from West Plains, residents are sure to enjoy the nearly circular pool of water that flows under a natural bridge into the Current River. The spring is 55-feet deep and became one of Missouri’s first state parks in 1924. It was made part of Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 1964 in recognition of its uniqueness.
More than 26 million gallons of water flow from Round Spring on an average day. For thousands of years, the cool, clear waters of the spring have attracted people and wildlife.
Archeologists have found evidence that 10,000 years ago, native peoples lived and worked around the spring. Europeans began to settle in the Current River Valley in the nineteenth century, and soon two mills, a farm, a public road and a lime kiln were located around the spring.
According to the National Park Service, the clear, cold running water has provided physical and spiritual renewal for Native Americans, early European settlers and modern visitors to the Current River Valley.
At quiet times, otters, wood ducks and great blue herons may be seen in the spring. However, the park service said people are prohibited from swimming or wading in it.
“As you walk along the spring’s banks, consider the sustaining role Round Spring continues to play for all living things,” the National Park Service said.
Round Spring is also home to a family campground, a picnic area, a tour cave, and the spring from which it takes its name.
Campsites at Round Spring are suitable for tents or RVs, and there are a small number of electric hook-up sites but no water hook-ups. A dump station is available. Reservations are recommended during the summer months. Tables with grills are located around the spring. There are two shelters. The one closest to the parking lot can be reserved by visiting www.recreation.gov or calling 877-444-6777.
Sixty-three miles from West Plains, West Plains Tourism Department says to get to Round Spring; residents should take Highway 63 north toward Willow Springs. Before Willow Springs, take Highway 60 east toward Mountain View. After Mountain View, turn left on Highway 17. Stay on Highway 17 for 13 miles to Summersville. At Summersville, turn right on Highway 106. In 7 miles, continue straight on D Highway. Go 9 miles, then turn left on Highway 19. In 5 miles, the entrance for Round Spring will be on your right.
Nearby attractions include Echo Bluff State Park, Devils Well and Welch Spring.
For more information on Round Spring or to view a virtual video of Round Spring Cave, visit nps.gov/ozar/planyourvisit/round-spring-and-round-spring-cave.htm.
From Round Spring, residents can continue on Highway 19 to the entrance of Echo Bluff State Park, a year-round outdoor destination for families and nature lovers that opened as Camp Zoe roughly 85 years ago.
The new Echo Bluff State Park is a remote location connected to the accessibility to the best of the Ozarks. Visitors of all ages to Echo Bluff State Park can look forward to a day full of floating, hiking, biking, swimming or fishing.
With the Current River a half-mile away, Echo Bluff State Park is set in a valley surrounded by towering bluffs and forest and cut by the Sinking Creek, the Current River’s second largest tributary.
An iconic lodge and nine full-service cabins are located at the 476-acre park site. The lodge features guest rooms, indoor and outdoor casual dining and meeting rooms. Nine cabins with 13 units are also an excellent option for families and groups as they visit the state park.
According to the state parks department, camping opportunities range from primitive to full-service campsites.
In May, Echo Bluff State Park will also begin holding a summer concert series featuring the best local bands right at the state park. The concert series will feature performances by celebrated artists until September.
Kirk Pierce, a local country artist with a unique voice that sings primarily his original songs will kick off the series at 8 p.m. May 28. Event organizers said that Pierce will bring a lot of energy that will not disappoint. Local entertainer Colin Nash, who currently lives in Nashville following his dream of being a singer-songwriter, will perform live at 8 p.m. May 29 at the park.
All concerts are free and outside at the Amphitheater, so residents are encouraged to bring a blanket or a chair and enjoy a night of entertainment under the stars.
Echo Bluff State Park is 66 miles from West Plains. To get to Echo Bluff State Park, West Plains Tourism Department said residents should take Highway 63 north toward Willow Springs. Before Willow Springs, take Highway 60 east toward Mountain View. After Mountain View, turn left on Highway 17. Stay on Highway 17 for 13 miles to Summersville. At Summersville turn right on Highway 106. In 7 miles, continue straight on D Highway. Go 9 miles then turn left on Highway 19. In 8.5 miles, the entrance for Echo Bluff will be on the right.
Nearby attractions include Devils Well and Welch Spring.
For more information, visit echobluffstatepark.com.
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