Spring River Basin - Recreation
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Leave No Trace
Every year, millions of pounds of trash are collected from our nation’s rivers, parks, and streets.   The waters of the Spring River Basin experience heavy recreational traffic during the warm summer months.  If you visit a state park, river, lake, campground, or any other public place, remember to leave no trace of yourself by picking up your trash.

State Parks & Hiking Areas

Prairie State Park
Prairie State Park is located on the northern fringe of the Spring River Basin sixteen miles west of Lamar off Highway 160 and north on Hwy NN to Central Road in Barton County.  Prairie State Park is 3,702 acres and contains tall grasses, flowers, and prairie wildlife that are reminiscent of the native prairie that once covered a third of Missouri.  At Prairie State Park, you can hike, picnic, and observe wildlife.   Some limited camping is available with permission from the park.   For more information, visit http://www.mostateparks.com/prairie.htm

Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area
The Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area contains 4,321 acres of land and is located in north central Lawrence County, MO, 12 miles northwest of Mount Vernon .  The conservation area is made up of about 70% open land and 30% timber.   One of the conservation goals of the Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area is to protect the riparian habitat along the Spring River, which flows through the heart of the conservation area.   There are 2 lakes and numerous ponds within the area.  Hiking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, wildlife observation, and camping are allowed with certain regulations.  For more information on the Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area and a list of rules concerning area use, visit http://www.conservation.mo.gov/documents/area_brochures/8037.pdf  

Shawnee Trail Conservation Area
The Shawnee Trail Conservation Area contains 3,635 acres located in Barton County, MO, one mile south of Mindenmines.   The Shawnee Trail is part of what is also known as the Texas Road, a trail that was once used by Texan ranchers to drive their cattle to Kansas City to market.   In this conservation area, hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, and wildlife watching are allowed with certain regulations.  For more information on the Shawnee Trail Conservation Area and a list of rules concerning area use, visit http://www.conservation.mo.gov/documents/area_brochures/8037.pdf

Fish Hatcheries

Neosho National Fish Hatchery
Located at 520 E. Park St. in Neosho, MO, the Neosho National Fish Hatchery is the oldest operating federal fish hatchery in the United States.  Rainbow trout, spoonbill, sturgeon, brown trout, and the endangered Ozark cavefish are raised at the hatchery.  Guided tours, picnic areas, and a 0.3 mile self-guided path around the hatchery are available to the public.  For more information, visit the link at http://www.recreation.gov/detail.cfm?ID=3868

To view an article from National Geographic magazine about the Neosho National Fish Hatchery and the Ozark cavefish, visit the link at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1029_031030_ghostfish.html#main.

Neosho, MO, lies on the border of the Elk and Spring River Basins.  Excess water from the Neosho National Fish Hatchery is discharged into Hickory Creek near Neosho, which is part of the Spring River Basin .  The hatchery is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has a permit that regulates this discharge into the Spring River Basin.   


Fishing licenses are required for those who are at least 16 years of age and can be purchased at many local bait shops, gas stations, local Wal-Mart stores, and Bass Pro Shops.

Even though there are no major reservoirs located in the Missouri portion of the Spring River Basin , anglers can fish at small lakes and ponds located on three Missouri Department of Conservation areas within the basin.   These conservation areas include Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area, Shawnee Trail Conservation Area, and Dorris Creek Prairie.   There are also two community lakes within the basin that are managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation that are open to public fishing.   At these lakes and ponds, largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish can be caught.

Opportunities to catch smallmouth, largemouth, spotted, and rock bass also exist in the  Spring   River Basin.  In addition to these species, channel catfish, bluegill, sunfish, and suckers, can be caught in the  basin.  For more information, visit http://www.conservation.mo.gov/fish/watershed/spring/angler/370agtxt.htm

Historic Sites & Museums

George Washington Carver National Monument
Located at 5646 Carver Road in Diamond, MO, this national monument consists of 210 acres surrounding the birthplace home of George Washington Carver.  

Harry S. Truman Birthplace State Historic Site
Located at the corner of 11th and font-family: Truman St. in Lamar, MO, the historical birthplace of Harry S. Truman is open to the public.  As the 33rd President of the United States of America , Harry Truman served our country during the end of World War II.  This famous president was born May 8, 1884 , in a downstairs bedroom of the historical house and lived there until he was 11 months old.  

Battle of Carthage State Historic Site
Located on the north side of E. Chestnut in Carthage, MO, this state historic site commemorates the Battle of Carthage, which took place on July 5, 1861 .  During this battle, 6,000 Confederate forced 1,000 Union soldiers to retreat southeast to Sarcoxie , MO.  

Battle of Carthage Civil War Museum
Located at 205 Grant St. in Carthage, MO, this museum displays historic relics from the Battle of Carthage.  Call 417-237-7060 for more information.

Powers Museum
Located at 1617 W. Oak in Carthage, MO, this museum contains displays of Carthage history, Route 66 information, and rotating exhibits.  

Precious Moments Chapel, Studio, and Inspiration Park
Located at 4321 Chapel Road in Carthage, MO, the Precious Moments Chapel, Studio, and Inspiration  Park offers artwork, stained glass, architecture, and gardens based on the Precious Moments ceramic doll series.  

1909 Missouri Pacific Depot and Historical Society Museum
Located at 121 E. Olive in Aurora, MO, this museum is located in a renovated Missouri Pacific Rail Depot.  Historical items collected by local citizens can be viewed.  

Newton County Historical Park
Located at 121 N. Washington  in Neosho, MO, the Newton County Historical  Park is open year around, Monday through Sunday, from 12:30-4:30 pm .  In the park, there is a one room log cabin constructed prior to the Civil War, the old Newton County jail, and a collection of regional artifacts.   Neosho, MO, is located on the border of the Elk and Spring River Basins. E-mail:

George A. Spiva Center for the Arts
Located at 222 W. 3rd St. in Joplin, MO, this museum and art gallery displays local and international works of art. 

Hall of Honor
Located in Northpark Mall at 101 N. Range Line in Joplin, MO, the Hall of Honor displays a collection of over 750 photos of U.S. military men and women that have served our country from the Civil War to the present. 

Joplin Museum Complex
Located at Schifferdecker Park in Joplin, MO, this museum displays the world’s largest collection of tri-state lead and zinc.  The museum contains historical objects aimed at preserving the history of the tri-state mining district.   For more information, call 417-623-3638.

Post Memorial Art Reference Library
Located at 300 Main St. in Joplin, MO, this library is contained within the Joplin Public Library.   The Post Memorial Art Reference Library houses a collection of references for art research.   The library contains European art and objects from the Winfred and Elizabeth Post collection. 

Gene Taylor Congressional Library and Museum
Located at the northeast corner of the square in Sarcoxie, MO, the Gene Taylor Congressional Library and Museum houses local historical items.  For more information, contact 417-548-6130.

Barton County Historical Society & Museum
Located at 1004 Gulf Street in the west basement of the Barton County Courthouse in Lamar, MO, this museum contains historical artifacts and documents from throughout Barton County .  For more information, contact 417-682-4141.


There are no major reservoirs within the Spring  River Basin , but there are numerous small ponds and lakes.

Lamar  City  Lake  covers about 250 acres and is located at 214 SE 15th Road in Lamar , MO. The lake serves as a water source for the city of font-family: Lamar , but it is also open to recreational fishing, picnics, and wildlife observing.  For more information on the Lamar City Lake visit http://www.lamarparks.org/city_lake.htm.

Two additional small lakes within the Spring  River Basin  are Kellogg  Lake  in Carthage  and Williams  Creek  Park  Lake  in Mount Vernon . Kellogg  Lake  is located east of Carthage  off of historic Rt. 66 (96 Hwy). The lake spans 25 acres and the area is open for fishing, hiking, and picnics. For more information on Kellogg  Lake  visit http://www.visit-carthage.com/attractions_famfun_list1.asp.

Horseback Riding

Medicine Hat Trading  - Located at 12724 County Road 70, in Carthage, MO, the Medicine Hat Trading Co. offers guided horseback trail rides and more.  For more information, contact 417-246-5889.

Campgrounds and RV Parks

Ballard’s Campground
Carthage , MO
Joplin KOA Kampground
Joplin, MO
Pine Trails RV Ranch
Monett , MO
Big Red Barn RV Park
Carthage , MO
Suburban Wheel Estates RV Park
Joplin , MO
Hickory Creek R.V. Park
Neosho , MO
Coachlight RV Campground
Carthage , MO
Zan’s Creekside Campground
Joplin , MO
Sarcoxie , MO
Cubby Bears RV Park
Carthage , MO
Lamar City Park
Lamar , MO


Canoeing the Spring River, Center Creek, and Spring Creek of the are described in “Missouri Ozark Waterways”, a publication that can be obtained from the Missouri Department of Conservation.   For more information about this publication, visit http://www.tamassee.com/books/pbmo1002/pbmo1002.htm

Access Points and Conservation Areas

The Missouri Department of Conservation has many “access points” throughout the state.   An “access point” is a location for launching boats into rivers or lakes. Access points offer picnic facilities and accessible  fishing spots. The following is a list of access points and conservation areas in the Spring River Basin:

Missouri Department of Conservation public areas in the Spring River Basin
Allen Bridge Access 0 15 Shoal Creek
Catlin Prairie CA 15 260  
Bicentennial CA 1 721  
Capps Creek 0 120 Capps Creek
Carl Junction Access 0 3 Center Creek
Cherry Corner Access 0 4 Shoal Creek
Diamond Grove Prairie CA 0 611 Turkey Creek
Dorris Creek Prairie CA 10 160 Dorris Creek
Fort Crowder 2 2,362  
Hickory Creek CAP 0 1 Hickory Creek
Kellogg City Lake 25 25  
Kickapoo Prairie CA 0 160  
La Russell Access 0 1 Spring River
Lamar Access 0 30 North Fork of the Spring River
Lime Kiln Access 0 11 Shoal Creek
Mon-Shon Prairie CA 1 80  
Mount Vernon Prairie 0 41  
Neosho Towersite 0 70  
Pa Sole Prairie CA 0 240  
Shawnee Trail 113 3,635  
Smackout Access 0 1 Shoal Creek
Stones Corner Access 0 9 Center Creek
Talbot CA 45 4,321 Spring River
Tipton Ford Access 0 90 Shoal Creek
Treaty Line Prairie CA 0 168  
Wah-Sha-She Prairie 0 160  
Walter Woods CA 1 28  
Wildcat Access 0 1 Shoal Creek
Wildcat Glade NA 0 17  
Williams Creek Park 3 3 Williams Creek

Conservation Areas: Source: http://www.conservation.mo.gov/fish/watershed/spring/landuse/370lut05.htm

Golf Courses

Neosho Municipal Golf Course
Neosho , MO
Loma Linda Country Club
Joplin, MO
Lamar Country Club
Lamar , MO
Carthage Municipal Golf Course
Carthage , MO
Loma Linda South
Joplin, MO
Monett Windmill Ridge Golf Course
Monett , MO
Center Creek Golf Course
Sarcoxie , MO
Schifferdecker Golf Course
Joplin, MO

Drive-In Theatres

Three operating drive-in movie theatres are located in the Spring River Basin. The Sunset Drive-In in Aurora has been in operation since 1951, while the Barco Drive-In Theatre in Lamar has been in operation since 1950.   The 66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage is the last of the original drive-in theatres named after historic Route 66.  Show times, ticket prices, and more information can be found at the following links:

Sunset Drive-In Theatre
1601 East Church St. (Business 60 Hwy)
Aurora, MO
66 Drive-In Theatre
17231 Old 66 Blvd.
Carthage, MO
Barco Drive-In Theatre
E. Highway 160
Lamar, MO

Additional Local Attractions

Joplin 66 Speedway
Located at 3406 W. 7th in Joplin, MO, the Joplin 66 Speedway offers local and national auto racing weekly from April to October.  The track is the number one dirt track in Missouri and has a seating capacity of 8,500.   For more information, visit http://www.Joplin66.com.

The Spook Light
Located three miles west of Highway 43 near Hornet, MO, the spook light is a local legend as well as an unsolved mystery.   Visitors to the area park their car at night and wait to see a floating light that appears and then disappears.  This phenomenon has appeared nightly for over 100 years.   For more information, call 417-451-1925.

Stilabower Observatory
Located at 501 Maple in Lamar, MO, the Stilabower Observatory houses a fourteen inch telescope that allows visitors to gaze deep into the universe.   The observatory is open only by appointment and is free (donations accepted).   For more information, contact 417-436-2259.

Grand Falls
Located on Shoal Creek, south of Joplin, MO, Grand Falls is the only continuously flowing waterfall in Missouri. For more information, visit http://www.joplincvb.com.

Big Spring Park
Located three blocks west of the town square in Neosho, MO, this 7-acre park contains naturally flowing springs and gardens.  For more information, contact 417-451-1925

Index | History | Agriculture | Non-Ag Activities | Recreation | Point Source Pollution | NPS | Plants & Animals | Water Quality | Projects & Groups
Physical | Hydrology | Climate | Drinking Water | Curriculum | 4H/FFA

Elk River | James River | Sac River | Spring River | North Fork Salt River

Missouri Department
of Natural Resources

Missouri Watershed Information Network (MoWIN)
Send comments to: mowin1@missouri.edu
205 Agricultural Engineering
Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: (573) 882-0085
Toll Free: (MO only): 1-877-H20-shed (426-7433)
Fax: (573) 884-5650

Page last updated August 26, 2008