Prairie Hollow Gorge Natural Area

August 20, 1016

A torrent rushes through Prairie Hollow Gorge Natural Area in Shannon County. This beautiful shut-ins of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is different from most of the others I’ve visited in Missouri due to the colorful coats of lichens and moss that are worn by most of the igneous boulders and outcroppings.

Our trip to Prairie Hollow Gorge was inspired by almost a week of heavy rain across the state of Missouri. I had been monitoring the weather in Eminence, the nearest town, and saw a nice break in the weather that would allow us to visit the shut-ins during moderate to high flow. I told Joyce, as we departed home at 4:00 A.M., that we were taking a chance because the water could be too high to view the shut-ins or the road might be closed, but on the other hand, the possible combination of cloudy skies and moderate flow was enticing.

Upon arrival, we found the flow to be a bit more than moderate, more like ripping! We parked next to the low-water crossing near the downstream end of the gorge and began unloading our gear. As we proceeded up the trail to the gorge, the torrent of water made me a little nervous about jumping in with my wading shoes. After all, as reported last week, I was still a little gun shy from three falls at Castor River Shut-ins Natural Area.

When we reached the gorge and shut-ins, I rationalized that the boulders at this location would have better traction due to all the lichens that covered them. As I entered the water and began photographing, I quickly learned that my assumption was incorrect. The slipping and sliding began immediately, accompanied by rushing water all around. Somehow, I made it through the entire morning without falling and the only mishap was the loss of one of the rubber boots on a tripod leg.



Prairie Hollow Gorge is about waterfalls! I count five, at least, in this image. I didn’t make it all the way up to the end of the gorge, due to high water, so who knows how many others I missed?



Every boulder was a canvas for Nature’s artwork, featuring both moss and lichens. This natural area is a feast for the eyes — something new from every angle.



At one point, mesmerized by all of the photo opportunities, I lost track of my faithful assistant. A scan of the landscape found her fast asleep on a giant boulder. I decided not to wake her up until I was finished, but didn’t hesitate to capture her in her favorite mode — napping in the forest. As a fitful sleeper, I’ve always been jealous of Joyce’s ability to “sleep on a rock” while I can’t even get a good night’s rest in a plush motel room.

Prairie Hollow Gorge Natural Area is easy to find, easy to access, especially during normal flow, and includes a second hike to a gorgeous glade atop the bluff. I think you should go there, perhaps this fall. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for looking,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery of Images/Print Information:



6 comments on “Prairie Hollow Gorge Natural Area”

  1. Enjoyed the e-visit very much!

  2. This post is just so beautiful. Thank you for sharing

    Sandi McDonald Hillermann Nursery & Florist Washington, MO Sent from my iPad


  3. Thanks Danny and Joyce for introducing us to places we never knew in Missouri! Beautiful!!!

  4. […] part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Although Joyce and I have hiked up the gorge before, (See Report Here) I wanted to poke around on the bluffs for some potential images this fall. Bill was also hoping to […]

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