Explore the Ozarks’ amazing natural diversity at this large, forested area in Shannon County.
Spring is a great time to discover the uncommon Ozark landscapes and life forms you can find at Sunklands CA. Depending on your interests, equipment and time, you can gear up and get away for birding, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting during season and nature photography.
Totaling 37,443 acres, Sunklands is one of the largest and most remote conservation areas in Missouri. It includes eight parcels scattered across several different routes between Salem and Eminence. One of the most unique areas within Sunklands is the 5,744-acre Sunklands Natural Area. It contains Missouri’s longest sinkhole complex, as well as many other unique geological features. Sunklands also has dozens of intermittent and permanent streams, including 2.4 miles of the Current River. Several upland ponds or sinkholes contain water and form interesting marshlike habitat. These wetlands are rare and important homes to salamanders and other amphibians that require a fish-free environment.
Managers use timber harvests and prescribe burning to restore and enhance the health of Sunklands’ forest, woodland and glade natural communities. These management tools maintain the area’s exceptional diversity of wildlife habitat.
In April, the area’s flowering trees begin putting on their spring show. In particular, redbuds, dogwoods and serviceberry will lace the region in pink and white. Birders will welcome early returning migrant songbirds, including such species as Louisiana waterthrush, pine warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, rose-breasted grosbeak, American pipit and northern parula.
Although walk-in and float-in camping is permitted, there are no amenities and seasonal closures may apply. Anglers can expect good populations of bass, goggle-eye and other species in the Current River. Trout anglers can try their luck at Barren Fork, a blue-ribbon trout stream that flows through the area. Hikers won’t find designated trails, but they’re welcome to walk the area’s many interior access and service roads. The area is open to hunting under statewide regulations, and hunters can pursue deer, dove, quail, rabbit, squirrel and turkey during season.
Sunklands CA is eight miles north of Highway 17 on Route K, then one mile down Route KB. Watch for an area sign at the junction of Route KB and MDC Trail 340. As always, check the area’s website for special notices and more directions and details, as well as the area map, brochure and regulations.
—Bonnie Chasteen, photo by David Stonner
Recreation opportunities: Birding, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting during season and nature photography
Unique features: Mostly forest with savanna and glades, Sunklands Natural Area and the Current River
For More Information: Call 573-226-3616 or visit mdc.mo.gov/node/a9511.
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler