Thousand Hills State Park

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Thousand Hills State Park
Missouri State Park
Aerial view of Thousand Hills
swim beach & cabins area
Country United States
State Missouri
County Adair
Elevation 814 ft (248 m) [1]
Coordinates 40°10′30″N 92°35′21″W / 40.17500°N 92.58917°W / 40.17500; -92.58917Coordinates: 40°10′30″N 92°35′21″W / 40.17500°N 92.58917°W / 40.17500; -92.58917 [1]
Area 3,215 acres (1,301 ha)
Established 1952
Management Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Visitation 480,551 (2015) [2]
Location in Missouri
Website: Thousand Hills State Park
Thousand Hills State Park Petroglyphs Archeological Site
Thousand Hills State Park is located in Missouri
Thousand Hills State Park
Nearest city Kirksville, Missouri
Area 9.9 acres (4.0 ha)
NRHP reference # 70000320
Added to NRHP January 23, 1970

Thousand Hills State Park is a 3,215-acre (1,301 ha) Missouri state park located in Adair County, two miles (3 km) west of Kirksville. The park features 703-acre (284 ha) Forrest Lake and Native American petroglyphs.[3]


In 1950, the nearby city of Kirksville was in need of a larger and more reliable water supply than the Chariton River could provide. Following voter passage of a special bond issue, land was acquired to construct a dam across Big Creek, a tributary of the Chariton.[4] Upon completion in summer 1952, the new body of water was named Forrest Lake in honor of Missouri Governor Forrest Smith. The family of local physician George Laughlin donated 1,100 acres (450 ha) surrounding the lake for the establishment of a recreation area. The city of Kirksville matched the donation by purchasing an additional 1,150 acres (470 ha). The lands were presented to the state of Missouri free of charge in return for the promise of establishing a state park. Upon its official dedication in July 1953, it was named Thousand Hills State Park, in honor of Doctor Laughlin's Thousand Hills Farm that had formerly occupied the land.[5]


A series of Native American rock carvings, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, can be found in an enclosed observation and interpretation center. The carvings are estimated to date back at least 1,500 years.[3]

Activities and amenities[edit]

The park's lake is used for fishing, swimming, and both motorized and non-motorized boating. A marina offers boat and equipment rentals. Two campgrounds provide a total of 57 campsites. Overnight accommodations are also offered at seven duplex cabins. Trails are available for hiking and bicycling and include the Forest Lake Trail, which is being developed in cooperation with the community volunteer organization FLATS (Forest Lake Area Trail System).[6]

Annual events[edit]

Since the mid-1980s, the park has hosted the Jim Baker-John McConnell Bass and Kids Fishing Tournament in the spring[7] and the NEMO Triathlon in September.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Thousand Hills State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "Missouri State Park Attendance 2015" (PDF). Missouri State Parks. January 15, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Thousand Hills State Park". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ We Would Just Like To Say Thank You by Chris Sieren & David Snyder, The Chariton Collector, Spring 1984
  5. ^ A Book of Adair County History, Published by the Kirksville-Adair County Bicentennial Committee, 1976
  6. ^ "Park Trails at Thousand Hills State Park". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ Berry, Kaitlin (May 17, 2014). "Annual tournament gets kids 'hooked' on fishing". Heartland Connection. Kirksville, Mo.: KTVO-TV. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  8. ^ Hunsicker, Jason (May 17, 2014). "NEMO Triathlon at 30". Kirksville Daily Express. Kirksville, Mo. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 

External links[edit]