Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park - Missouri

I first discovered Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park about 30 years ago.

Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park - Missouri

In the 1980s and 1990s, I spent many afternoons climbing on the rocks, letting water crash down on my head and sunning on the rocks.

Then I made a career change in 2001, becoming a real estate agent, and my weekends became filled with serving clients rather than hitting the road with friends. A few years later, Johnson’s Shut-Ins was hit by a disaster. In 2005, the water reservoir that sits upstream from the shut-ins was breached, and 1.3 billion gallons of water swept through the valley, destroying the campground and changing the landscape of the park forever.

Johnson Shut-Ins destruction

Destruction after reservoir water breach
Photo Credit

The park was closed for rebuilding, and when it was reopened, I had other things filling my weekends and I never seemed to schedule time for a return trip.

Johnson's Shut-Ins warning sign

One of the signs added to the park after it was reopened. Given that 1.3 billion gallons of water came rushing through the park in just 12 minutes, I would say that the sign should read ‘Run Fast’. 

A couple of years ago, I decided it was long overdue to go back. I had just finished up a volunteer weekend with Sherwood Forest Camp, located only minutes from the Johnson’s Shut-Ins. I was amazed at the changes but also impressed with the improvements. The following March, I stopped in again, shooting a bunch of pictures and some video.

I put together a post on my St. Louis website, Arch City Homes, showcasing a few pictures but never got around to sharing anything here.

Today, I finally put together a video.

These pictures and video clips were shot in March when the park is almost deserted. It’s a great time to enjoy the beauty of the park without crowds.

If you want to play in the water, expect big crowds on the weekends…and don’t forgot sturdy shoes that can get wet. Flip flops just won’t cut it here.