The Missouri state park system and State Historic Preservation Office were both established before the Missouri Department of Natural Resources existed. In April 1917, the General Assembly established the State Park Fund within the Fish and Game Department. This is regarded as the birth of the Missouri state park system. The responsibility for Missouri state parks moved from the Fish and Game Department to the Missouri State Park Board in 1937.

In 1968, Missouri was one of the first in the nation to establish a State Historic Preservation Office following the Historic Preservation Act of 1966. On July 1, 1974, the Missouri General Assembly established the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to consolidate state agencies concerned with some phase of the land, air, water, energy and cultural resources of the state. This included the Missouri state park system and State Historic Preservation Office, along with 54 Missouri state parks and historic sites.

Today the department’s Division of State Parks, known as Missouri State Parks includes 93 state parks and historic sites, totaling more than 150,000 acres. The division's mission is to preserve and interpret the state's most outstanding natural landscapes and cultural landmarks, and to provide outstanding recreational opportunities compatible with those resources. That mission is fulfilled through the divisions' business services program; cultural resources management program; grants, recreation and interpretative program; natural resource management program; planning and development program; State Historic Preservation Office, State Park Rangers and visitor services program.

Meet the Director and Deputy Directors
Laura Hendrickson, Deputy Director; David Kelly, Director; Brian Stith, Deputy Director
Missouri State Park System
Protects and interprets the state’s most outstanding natural and cultural resources
Missouri Trails Advisory Board
Advises the department to develop grant selection criteria, review applicants
State Park Rangers
Provides law enforcement and safety services for facilities and visitors
State Historic Preservation Office
Helps facilitate identifying historic properties and planning for their preservation
Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Reviews and advises all Missouri nominations to the National Register of Historic Places