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JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JUNE 8, 2023 – Summer brings sunshine and heat, and one of the best ways to cool off is by taking a dip in a river or lake in a Missouri state park. From hanging out in a quiet cove to exploring one of Missouri’s pristine rivers, Missouri state parks offer swimming experiences the whole family can enjoy.

Beaches at Missouri state parks opened for the season Friday, May 26. There are designated swimming beaches throughout the state for guests to cool off and enjoy time with family and friends during the outdoor recreational season.

The parks located on the big impounded lakes offer some of the greatest water recreation in the state. Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Wappapello, Long Branch, Pomme de Terre, Stockton, Harry S Truman and Mark Twain state parks all have large lakes perfect for swimming, boating and fishing. Each of these parks has a designated beach area.

Cuivre River, Finger Lakes, St. Joe, Trail of Tears, Thousand Hills, Wakonda and Watkin Mills state parks all offer sand beaches on smaller lakes for swimming.

Clear, spring-fed Ozark rivers are perfect for cooling off in the hot summer months. Big Creek runs through Sam A. Baker State Park and the campground is near a gravel bar along the creek. Meramec and Onondaga Cave state parks are located along the Meramec River. St. Francois and Washington state parks are on the Big River. One of the state’s top swimming holes is at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where the Black River has carved out chutes and pools in the ancient rock of the namesake shut-ins area.

Every week during the recreational season, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources collects water samples from all designated beaches in the state park system. Water sample results can help visitors decide whether a particular beach is suitable for swimming, based on bacteria levels. Visitors can view the water quality data and state park beach status information posted weekly on the department’s website at, as well as sign up to receive email or text notifications about the state park beach status.

Guests are encouraged to enjoy the water, but remember to keep safety in mind. The designated beaches at Missouri State Parks do not have lifeguards on duty. For more information concerning water safety, visit

For more information on state parks and historic sites that offer recreational swimming, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

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