News Release 170

DNR announces 2009 boost in visitors to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, 6 percent growth in visitors to State Parks last year

Volume 38-170 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Sue Holst
573-751- 6510

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., MARCH 26, 2010 -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today that Rock Bridge Memorial State Park near Columbia saw a 15 percent increase in visitors in 2009.  The announcement follows an earlier announcement by Gov. Jay Nixon that Missouri’s system of state parks saw an overall increase in visitors of 6 percent last year.

“Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is just one of the many gems to be found in Missouri’s state park system,” Gov. Jay Nixon said.  “With the opportunities for inexpensive recreation and family activity that Rock Bridge Memorial State Park provides for folks in the Columbia area and beyond, it’s no wonder that people flocked to the park last year in growing numbers.”

The Division of State Parks reports that 207,745 visits were made to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in 2009. The previous year, the division recorded 181, 413 visits to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.  The 15 percent increase in visitors over the previous year at this park is reflective of a larger trend that shows the number of visitors to Missouri state parks on the upswing for the first time in a decade.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park contains a wide variety of natural features to explore, including karst features, forests and grasslands. Its two most prominent karst features are Devil's Icebox Cave and the rock bridge itself. A boardwalk leads visitors through this karst area. More than 15 miles of hiking and bicycling trails wind through the entire park. Picnic areas provide great places for lunch or a snack. 

On Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon noted in his remarks at the initial meeting of the Children in Nature Challenge initiative, which he created via Executive Order 10-18 on Feb. 26, that total attendance at Missouri state parks in 2009 had risen to more than 15,890,785 visitors.  This is an increase of nearly one million visitors from the 2008 attendance figure of 14,937,471.

Gov. Nixon has implemented several initiatives encouraging awareness and use of Missouri’s tremendous system of State Parks and Historic Sites.  In addition to the Children in Nature initiative, Gov. Nixon has created the State Parks Youth Corps, which will put one thousand young Missourians to work this summer on projects beautifying and maintaining state parks and historic sites.  He has also worked with the Missouri Division of Tourism to encourage people from Missouri and neighboring states to vacation at or near state parks.   

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is located on 5901 South Hwy. 163 south of Columbia. People requiring special services or accommodations can call the park at 573-449-7402 or  the Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). For information about state parks and historic sites, visit the Web at