Roaring River Spring (Roaring River State Park)

May 13, 2016

I just got home from an overnighter to Roaring River State Park (Barry County) to view and photograph Roaring River Spring, which flows at an average rate of 20 million gallons per day, supplying cold water for the park’s trout fishing and hatchery operations. The park is a great example of cooperation between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which operates the park, and the Missouri Department of Conservation, which operates the fish hatchery.

Upon arrival I checked out the three campgrounds on the area in search of a quiet, shady place to pitch my tent. I soon learned that I would have to camp in an open field in Campground 3, if I wanted a basic tent site, so I opted for a more expensive, but much more pleasing, site with all the amenities in Campground 1. After setting up my tent, I headed over to the hatchery for my first look at the spring outlet. The light was still high in the sky, but I wanted to recon the site to find out if my best images would come later that evening or first thing in the morning.

As I approached the spring, which is deeply recessed in a bluff face, almost like a cave entrance, a quick check of my compass revealed that the opening faced due north. It was only about 4:00 PM and the sun was very bright, but the area around the spring was quite dark. I could see that it would only get darker as the sun settled in the west so I went ahead and began shooting. I made the featured image right away, as a huge rainbow leisurely swam into the field of view of my lens.

As you know, I’ve been photographing most of Missouri’s major springs over the last few years. What Roaring River Spring lacked in enthusiasm (it is Missouri’s 20th largest spring) it made up in color, the deepest blue of any spring I’ve seen yet, similar to the color of an indigo bunting. I’m sure the blue color was intensified by the darkness of the surrounding grotto, but at over 200 feet deep, you would expect the water to give off a “blue hole” effect!



One of the cool aspects of Roaring River Spring is the smaller spring that emerges from the bluff, far overhead, falling into the main spring outlet. In case you were wondering, the white area of splashing water in this image is from the overhead spring fall. During heavy rainfall events, the overhead spring becomes a beautiful waterfall. Unfortunately, the three inches of rain we received in Union during my trip did not occur at Roaring River State Park.



Close-up detail of the fern rock, an ever-present focal point of Roaring River Spring.



My digs for the night (taken with my little Canon G-16 from a goofy, collapsible tripod made from tent poles and shock cord). Once I finished photographing the spring, I realized that it would be no use returning in the morning for more images. The north-facing direction of the deeply recessed outlet was subject to little influence from the sun’s rays, morning or evening. My new plan was simple: sleep in and head over to the park’s lodge and restaurant (Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center) for steak and eggs the next morning.

It was a cool spring night in the mid-forties so I slept as well as ever in my little tent, surrounded by $100,00 camper trailers. After a chilly bird walk, I packed my gear and followed through with my plan from the previous evening. After having yogurt and pretzels the night before, that steak and eggs was just what the doctor ordered, and the hash browns weren’t to shabby either.

Thanks for looking,


Feel free to email me at:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery of Images:  Danny’s Website



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