Elephant Rocks State Park

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Elephant Rocks State Park
Missouri State Park
The Elephant Rocks.JPG
Country United States
State Missouri
County Iron
Elevation 1,273 ft (388 m) [1]
Coordinates 37°39′16″N 90°41′17″W / 37.65444°N 90.68806°W / 37.65444; -90.68806Coordinates: 37°39′16″N 90°41′17″W / 37.65444°N 90.68806°W / 37.65444; -90.68806 [1]
Area 133.75 acres (54 ha) [2]
Established 1967 [3]
Management Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Location in Missouri
Website: Elephant Rocks State Park

Elephant Rocks State Park is a state-owned geologic reserve and public recreation area encompassing an outcropping of Precambrian granite in the Saint Francois Mountains in the U.S. state of Missouri. The state park is named for a string of large granite boulders which resemble a train of pink circus elephants.[4] The park was created following the donation of the land to the state in 1967 by geologist John Stafford.[3] The park is used for picnicking, rock climbing, and trail exploration. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.[4]


Geologically, Elephant Rocks State Park consists of a tor, which is a high, isolated rocky peak, usually of jointed and weathered granite. The alkaline granite here was formed in the Proterozoic 1500 million years ago from a dome of molten magma. Nearly vertical fractures formed in the stone as it cooled, and uplift of the formation enhanced the fracturing. Eventually the overlying strata were removed through erosion, exposing the granite dome. With exposure, water and ice worked to weather and erode the surface of the granite along fracture joints. Spheroidal weathering of the granite and later erosion of the resulting saprolite that once surrounded these corestones left the elephant rocks as boulders perched on the ground surface.

The reddish or pink granite has been quarried in this area since 1869, and two abandoned granite quarries are within the park. These and others nearby have provided red architectural granite for buildings in states from Massachusetts to California, but most particularly in St. Louis, including stone for St. Louis City Hall and the piers of the Eads Bridge. Stones unsuitable for architectural use were made into shoebox-sized paving stones that were used on the streets of St. Louis as well as on its wharf on the Mississippi River. Stone quarried in the area currently is used for mortuary monuments and is known commercially as Missouri Red monument stone.[5]

Activities and amenities[edit]

A one-mile (2 km) circular interpretive trail in the Elephant Rocks Natural Area, called the Braille Trail, is the first in Missouri state parks designed specifically for visitors with visual and physical challenges. Spur trails off the main trail include one passing through "Fat Man's Squeeze," a narrow gap between two boulders that leads hikers to an abandoned quarry, and another that goes through "The Maze," a 100-foot (30.48 meter) section of scattered boulders.[6] The park's picnicking area includes ADA-compliant facilities.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Elephant Rocks State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "Missouri State Park Advisory Board Annual Report 2008". Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Elephant Rocks Natural Area". Conservation Commission of Missouri. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Elephant Rocks State Park". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ "General Information: Elephant Rocks State Park". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  6. ^ Bullis, Mary Eakins. "Elephant Rocks State Park". River Valley Region Association. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Elephant Rocks State Park Accessibility Information" (PDF). Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 

External links[edit]