MDC reminds Tower Rock Natural Area visitors to explore nature safely

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WITTENBERG, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is reminding those visiting the 400-million-year-old Tower Rock Natural Area in Perry County to explore nature safely, and to be respectful of the area and its neighboring land. 

The roughly 32-acre natural area is comprised of upland oak-pine and mixed hardwoods. It features a vertical geologic formation known as “Tower Rock” in the river channel.

During average river stages, the formation is perched out in the middle of the Mississippi River and is accessible only by boat. But during extremely low river stages (typically below 1.5 feet at the Mississippi River Chester gauge) this large limestone outcrop is accessible by foot.

Southeast Regional Administrator Matt Bowyer said this season’s dry weather created conditions that have attracted numerous visitors to the area over the past few weeks.

“We want folks to enjoy Tower Rock,” he said. “But the parking lot of the actual area is relatively small, so space is limited. If you are parking along the county road to access the area, please remember to not further restrict access to other visitors or neighboring landowners.”

To ensure a safe and rewarding visit, MDC reminds visitors who access the area of these key points:

  • Do not block the county road when parking your vehicle. 
  • The nearby railroad tracks are active; vehicles should not be parked near them, and please do not walk on them. Please also allow trains plenty of room to pass.
  • Access via Highway A and the adjoining county roads could be busier than normal; please travel with extreme caution.
  • Do not disturb the colonies of vegetation (especially on the rock formation) as many of them have taken years to become established on the area.
  • Please be careful when exploring.

Due to safety concerns, Bowyer said he advises visitors to not climb the rock formation.

“The Mississippi River is still a very dangerous waterbody, even during low conditions,” he said. “Please use caution. And as always, pack out what you pack in. Do not leave litter behind.”

Tower Rock typically rises about 60 feet above the average river level.  Much of the rest of the natural area is connected to the mainland along the river, and features a small trail up the hill to gain a better view of the nearby river and the tower.  The area was designated a Natural Area in 1972 and purchased by MDC in 1973.

Anyone with information pertaining to vandalism or other suspicious activity at Tower Rock Natural Area is asked to contact Cpl. Christopher Doran at (573) 517-9056.

Discover more quick facts, area regulations, and things to do at Tower Rock Natural Area online at