Mark Twain National Forest

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Mark Twain National Forest
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
St. Francis River at Silver Mines Recreation Area 2.jpg
A kayaker on the St. Francis River at Silver Mines Recreation Area in the Mark Twain National Forest
Map showing the location of Mark Twain National Forest
Map showing the location of Mark Twain National Forest
Location Missouri, USA
Nearest city Rolla, MO
Coordinates 37°38′13″N 91°05′24″W / 37.637°N 91.09°W / 37.637; -91.09Coordinates: 37°38′13″N 91°05′24″W / 37.637°N 91.09°W / 37.637; -91.09
Area 1,491,840 acres (6,037.3 km2)[1]
Established September 11, 1939[2]
Governing body U.S. Forest Service
Map of the National Forest

Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) is a U.S. National Forest located in the southern half of Missouri. MTNF was established on September 11, 1939. It is named for author Mark Twain, a Missouri native. The MTNF covers 1,491,840 acres (6,037.3 km2), 78,000 acres (320 km2) of which are Wilderness, and National Scenic River area. MTNF spans 29 counties and represents 11% of all forested land in Missouri. MTNF is divided into six distinct ranger districts: Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs, Eleven Point, Houston-Rolla-Cedar Creek, Poplar Bluff, Potosi-Fredericktown, and the Salem. The six ranger districts actually comprise nine overall unique tracts of forests. Its headquarters are in Rolla, Missouri.

Some unique features of the Mark Twain include Greer Spring, which is the largest spring on National Forest land and part of the Eleven Point National Scenic River, and pumps an average of 214 million gallons of water per day into the river.[3] The public can also visit the Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, which offers views of over 30 miles (48 km) to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas. The 350-mile Ozark Trail system winds through much of the National Forest.


The Mark Twain National Forest, as we know it today, was created on February 17, 1976. The Mark Twain National forest has a rather unique history – for it was once known as both the Clark National Forest and the Mark Twain National Forest – both being proclaimed on September 11, 1939.

In June 1973 the Clark and Mark Twain NF were brought under one headquarters in Rolla and became known as the National forests in Missouri. On Feb. 17, 1976, the forests were combined and renamed the Mark Twain National Forest.

Missouri’s only national forest, The Mark Twain, encompasses roughly 1.5 million acres, mostly within the Ozark Highlands. Located across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, the Ozark Highlands are an ancient landscape characterized by large permanent springs, over 5,000 caves, rocky barren glades, old volcanic mountains and nationally recognized streams. Portions of the Ozarks were never under oceans, nor were the areas glaciated.

In the 1870s, citizens of southern Missouri began an era of extensive logging of the state's native oak, hickory, and pine forests. Lumber mills were commonplace, but by the 1920s they had disappeared, along with much of the state's native forests. Thus, in 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the MTNF into existence. In March 1933, he also created the Emergency Conservation Work Act, better known as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In the area that would later become Mark Twain National Forest, hundreds of young men at over fifty CCC sites worked at building roads and planting hundreds of acres of pine to preserve and enhance the natural resources of southern Missouri. Many of their contributions can still be visited and enjoyed today.

Wilderness areas[edit]


Although it is far from being the largest National Forest in acreage, Mark Twain National Forest is located in more counties than any other. As of September 30, 2007, its 1,490,862 acres (2,329.47 sq mi, or 6,033.3 km²) were spread over parts of 29 counties in southern and central Missouri.[4]

County Area
Acres Hectares
Oregon County 104,721 42,379
Ripley County 97,437 39,431
Iron County 96,047 38,869
Carter County 90,641 36,681
Reynolds County 89,933 36,395
Wayne County 88,372 35,763
Shannon County 83,934 33,967
Washington County 82,133 33,238
Dent County 73,011 29,547
Taney County 65,953 26,690
Phelps County 65,379 26,458
Barry County 55,187 22,333
Christian County 52,260 21,149
Madison County 51,170 20,708
Howell County 50,504 20,438
Crawford County 50,048 20,254
Texas County 49,581 20,065
Butler County 48,494 19,625
Douglas County 41,030 16,604
Pulaski County 39,177 15,854
Ozark County 38,672 15,650
Laclede County 30,542 12,360
Callaway County 12,467 5,045
Stone County 10,335 4,182
Sainte Genevieve County 10,254 4,150
Wright County 7,159 2,897
Boone County 4,102 1,660
Bollinger County 1,646 666
Saint Francois County 673 272


  1. ^ "Land Areas of the National Forest System" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The National Forests of the United States" (PDF). Retrieved July 20, 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Table 6 - NFS Acreage by State, Congressional District and County - United States Forest Service - September 30, 2007

External links[edit]