News Release 496

Missouri state parks voted best in the Midwest

Volume 38-496 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Sue Holst
573-751-6510

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., AUG. 25, 2010 -- Missouri can officially boast the top three parks in the Midwest. Missouri state parks took the first, second and third place awards for Best State Park in AAA Midwest Traveler magazine.

This spring, the publication invited readers to vote for their favorite places to visit, eat, shop and more. More than 2,500 people cast ballots for their favorite Midwestern places and people.  Table Rock State Park near Branson won best state park by almost a two-to-one margin according to AAA.

Lake of the Ozarks State Park came in second place, followed by Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton in third. “This award for three of our state parks reflects the quality of our state park system and the tremendous opportunity it provides for recreation and tourism.  Our beautiful state parks are not only a treasure of this state, but are among the most remarkable in the nation,” said Gov. Jay Nixon.

In first place, Table Rock State Park is one of the busiest parks in the state. It boasts a marina, hiking trails, picnic areas and a myriad of camping facilities. Visitors return year after year for the scenic views, lake access, quiet trails and clean facilities.

For the past 10 years, Lolita Hall from Osawatomie, Kan., has visited Table Rock State Park four or five times each year, calling it her favorite park. “The campgrounds are so nice and clean,” says Hall. “They’re away from town a little bit so you have some privacy. We just love it here.” 

Table Rock State Park Superintendent Carl Bonnell says the park staff is constantly trying to meet the public’s needs and listen to concerns and suggestions in order to give guests what they want. All of the votes for Table Rock show just how closely the park is responding and how satisfied the visitors are.

“It’s exciting to know we were selected by such a large majority,” says Bonnell. “We have a big variety of activities and one of the biggest marinas in the Midwest.”

Lake of the Ozarks State Park in mid-Missouri claims the second prize for best state park of the Midwest. Superintendent Bill Arnold believes the diversity is what makes his park so popular. “I think it’s the beauty of the park and all the facilities the park offers with the group camps and the camper cabins. We have miles and miles of trails, both equestrian trails and bike trails.”

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is also located on the Lake of the Ozarks. The park offers trails, castle ruins, fishing and much more. “The park is such a fascinating collection of karst features and wonderfully diverse landscapes,” says Superintendent Nancy Masterson. “People can come to the lake for vacation. They can come to Ha Ha Tonka and spend a cost-free day hiking and enjoying the scenery.”

Masterson says the locals treat Ha Ha Tonka as their own county park. They use it many times a year and bring guests and friends back with them to show off the park.

AAA Midwest Traveler reaches more then 500,000 readers bimonthly. Their readership includes Missouri, parts of Indiana, Illinois and Kansas. In addition to the best state park, the publication asked for reader input in 19 categories: best small city for a weekend getaway; best large city for weekend getaway; best bed and breakfast; best country club plaza; best heritage attraction; best small hotel; best large hotel; best chef; best steak restaurant; best barbecue; best ethnic restaurant; best food festival; best shopkeeper; best local musician; best summer family destination; best golf course; best place to find quirky souvenirs; best artisan/craft gallery; and best antique district.

For information on Missouri state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com.

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Editor:  Graphic is available at /newsrel/images/mspaward.jpg.