Missouri Road Trips

The Most Scenic Drives in Missouri

The state is known for having some great lively cities, but to see the very best of it you need to set off on one of these Missouri road trips. From mountains and falls to National Parks and ample wildlife, your breath will be taken away as you cruise through the state.

Some of the trips are shorter and ideal for a family day out, with stops along the way for food and scenic photographs. There are however also longer trips that you could build a full vacation around to enjoy a week in this pretty state.

Load up the car with friends or family and get ready for a great adventure on one of these Missouri road trips…

The Best Missouri Road Trips

1. Water Mills Road Trip

Take a road trip around the Show-Me State to visit Missouri’s picturesque red mills. Highlights include Falling Spring mill, in the middle of the Mark Twain National Forest, Falling Spring forms a small waterfall as it pours out from a rock bluff wall.

When planning your visit, be sure to check each mill’s website for information, including location and hours of operation.

Distance: 232 miles

Route highlights: Rockbridge Mill, Hodgson Mill, Dillard Mill, Reed Springs Mill

When to do it: Spring-Fall

Photo Cred: jaystoutphotography


2. The Taum Sauk Trail

See Missouri’s tallest waterfall and stand on its tallest peak on the Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail, which connects the Fredericktown District with the Potosi District traversing two state parks – Johnson Shut-ins and Taum Sauk Mountain – and the Devil’s Tollgate and Bell Mountain Wilderness. The park’s 7,500 acres include the highest point in the state with amazing views from the road to the summit.

Distance: 35 miles

Route highlights: St. Francois Mountains, Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, and Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

When to do it: April-September

Photo Cred: missouristateparks

3. Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway

Each twist and straightway along this byway offers stunning views. Cutting through the Mark Twain National Forest, the Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway travels across wooded lands arrayed with oak and pine. The dense woodlands and streams dotting the landscape perfectly sum up Missouri’s Ozark hill country.

The forest’s beautiful views, cozy streams, and developed recreation areas, make this byway a fantastic route for any traveler.

Distance: 25 miles

Route highlights: Mark Twain National Forest, Ozarks

When to do it: Spring-Summer

Photo Cred: cold417


4. Glade Top Trail

The Glade Top Trail is Missouri’s only National Forest Scenic Byway, set in the heart of Mark Twain National Forest. It’s little changed from the original road constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930’s. For 23 miles, the two-lane, all weather gravel road follows narrow ridge tops rising approximately 500 feet above the surrounding rolling countryside.

Distance: 23 miles

Route highlights: Hercules Glades Wilderness Area, Mark Twain National Forest

When to do it: Spring-Fall

Photo Cred: thuggishswan


5. The Natural Wonders Road Trip

Missouri has some incredible natural wonders, so why not make a road trip out of visiting them all? Highlights on this trip – which you’ll want to spread out for at least a few days! – include Elephant Rocks State Park, where elephant-shaped boulders are the stars of this unusual park in southeast Missouri to routes along Missouri River and rolling prairies in western Missouri.

Distance: 619 miles

Route highlights: Marvel Cave, Grand Gulf State Park, Rocky Falls, Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, Elephant Rocks State Park, Johnson Shut-Ins, Devil’s Icebox

When to do it: Spring-Summer

Photo Cred: forestwyrm


6. Old Trails Road

This picturesque drive from Lexington through Wellington and Waterloo to Napoleon runs alongside the Missouri River. You’ll experience a roadway that was traveled by American Indians, fur traders, trappers, explorers, westward pioneers, gold seekers, ox carts, covered wagons, Santa Fe Trail traders, Civil War troops, Jayhawkers, Bushwhackers, coal miners, farmers, early-day motorists and present-day tourists!

Distance: 15 miles

Route highlights: Wellington, Waterloo, Missouri River Basin

When to do it: Year-round

Photo Cred: nowater_nolife


7. Fall Foliage Road Trip

Trees drenched in shades of red, orange, and yellow make autumn one of the best times to explore Missouri. With an abundance of hardwood forests filled with oaks, hickories, maples and more, the Show-Me State is an ideal place to find fall colours. Take a self-guided road trip around the state’s best parks to see the foliage in all its glory.

Distance: 621 miles

Route highlights: Weston Bend State Park, Hermann Wine Trail, Hermann Wine Trail, Taum Sauk Mountain, Alley Spring Grist Mill and Table Rock Lake State Park

When to do it: Fall

Photo Cred: checkitofftravel


If you are spending time in the state check out The 25 Best Burgers In Missouri.