Scouting Prairie Hollow Gorge (Ozark National Scenic Riverways) Shannon County

June 13, 2018

A view from the bluffs along Prairie Hollow Gorge in Shannon County. If you look closely, you’ll find my friend Bill in the image.

Yesterday, my buddy Bill and I made a scouting trip to Prairie Hollow Gorge in Shannon County. The dramatic canyon and shut-ins of Rocky Creek are 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 see an interesting snake or two on the igneous glades overlooking the canyon.

Prairie Hollow Gorge is one of the most impressive canyons in Missouri, even more spectacular than Cathedral Canyon, another deep gem of a canyon in the St. Francois Mountains. The views from the top will bring joy to your heart and the shut-ins below are a photographer’s dream, especially when Rocky Creek is in moderate flow. Although I didn’t make preparations to photograph in the bottom of the gorge this time, we were pleasantly surprised to find the creek flowing with enough vigor to reveal some nice waterfall sites for future trips. While on top of the bluff I noticed an impressive waterfall below, much farther upstream than the ones I photographed in my previous report. I made a mental note of how far I would have to scramble over the huge, slick boulders in my wading gear to make it to that waterfall.

While we were up on the bluff, Bill and I couldn’t help but to visualize some great images for a return trip on a crisp, colorful autumn day. Every time we rounded a new corner, another dramatic view appeared. The place just rocks! — pun intended.

Bill got a little close to the edge a few times. I offered to carry his Leica Trinovids, just in case, as we continued along the bluff top.

We didn’t see any rattlesnakes or other cool critters along the glades overlooking the gorge, but Bill discovered a very active western slimy salamander by the creek on our way back to the 4Runner. It was a hot, humid morning but the cool, creek water brought our temperature back down when we arrived back at the trailhead next to a low-water crossing.

A western slimy salamander along Rocky Creek.

After our successful scouting trip, we headed toward home, talking all the way about waterfalls and gorge vistas that I might photograph in the future. The conversation continued over lunch at Echo Bluff State Park Lodge.

Thanks for looking,


Please mark your calendars for Saturday evening, July 21, when I will be giving an encore presentation “Wildlife Photography in Four Seasons” at the Bryan Haynes Studio in Washington, Missouri. Tickets ($10 each) go on sale on July 8 and I will send out the link and more information right here as we get closer. The venue is limited in size and tickets for the first event were all gone in less than a day so plan accordingly. We had such a great time at the first event on June 9, I can’t wait to do it again, with new faces in the crowd of course.

Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

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America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.


One comment on “Scouting Prairie Hollow Gorge (Ozark National Scenic Riverways) Shannon County”

  1. Reptiles are something I didn’t get to see much of in all my visits to Missouri…thanks for this slimy salamander, which looks beautiful but would probably be ugh! to touch!

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