Editor’s Note: This column on Missouri’s Echo Bluff State Park appeared in The Wichita Eagle and was written by Melinda Schnyder. 

The first tip for staying at Echo Bluff State Park is to arrive during daylight, for a couple of reasons. First, the winding highway can be unnerving in the dark to the unfamiliar driver. Second, you won’t have to wait to see the towering sheer bluff the park is named after.

The new state park opened in mid-2016 in Eminence, Mo., deep in the Ozarks, about 140 miles east of Springfield or 380 miles east of Wichita. Echo Bluff is now the centerpiece of the Missouri state park system, which celebrates 100 years this year and includes 91 state parks and historical sites. The park’s lodge, cabins and campground bring first-rate lodging to an area already known for the quality and diversity of its outdoor recreation.

In fact, this area was home to the state’s first state parks.

This brings us to our second tip: book early. Since opening in July 2016, the lodge and cabins have sold out months in advance during warm weather months. They see brisk business in the cooler months, too, but you’re likely to find an opening this winter.

“The area is picturesque all year so Echo Bluff State Park was designed to be used year round,” said Jim Newberry, superintendent of Echo Bluff and Current River state parks. “Spring, summer and fall are beautiful, of course, with the foliage but when the trees drop their leaves you can actually see the bluffs better. And it’s neat to see the huge icicles coming out of the bluffs in the winter.”

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