Wakonda State Park is composed of land that once was the site of gravel
mines that has been turned into a recreation area that features six
lakes, hiking and bicycling trails, and a rare sand prairie. The
topography of the parked was formed during the ice age when glaciers
pushed boulders, gravel, and sand from the northern part of the
continent into northern Missouri. When the ice melted, glacial outwash
carved floodplains and deposited enormous amounts of gravelly rock.
South of La Grange, these gravel deposits were very deep and became one
of the largest sources of road-surfacing material in the state.
Beginning in 1924, private companies were contracted by the highway
commission to remove these deposits. By the late 1980s, over 26 million
tons of sand and gravel had been removed with most of the gravel being
used on Missouri's secondary highways. The overlying sand and clay had
to be removed so the underlying gravel could be mined and the sand was
piled in small mounds, creating a landscape of rolling sand ridges that
have developed into a rare sand prairie. The sand was also used for the
20,000-square-foot swimming beach along Wakonda Lake. After the gravel
deposits had been exhausted, the state highway commission deeded 273
acres to the Missouri State Park Board in 1960. The new park was named
Wakonda - a word taken from the Osage and Missouri Indian tongues
meaning something consecrated, referring to the spiritual. In 1992, the
Missouri Department of Natural Resources acquired an additional 777
acres from Central Stone Co.
The natural and man-made features of the park have
blended together to create a variety of recreation options. The gravel
excavation left the park with six lakes. Agate, Jasper, Quartz and
Wakonda lakes are favorites among fishermen with opportunities to catch
largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Boat launches are
available on Agate and Wakonda lakes with a maximum of a 10 horsepower
engine allowed. Quartz, Granite and Boulder lakes only allow boats with
electric motors, and no boats are allowed on Jasper Lake. Canoes and
jonboats can be rented at the park office. The lakes attract thousands
of waterfowl during the migratory seasons including Canada geese, snow
geese, mallards, lesser scaups, northern shovelers, great blue herons,
snowy egrets and many other species of ducks and gulls. Agate Lake is
closed to boating between October 15 and Decemeber 31 and again between
February 15 through March 31 for the annual waterfowl migrations.
Wakonda State Park has become one of the best places to observe
waterfowl in northeast Missouri. The sand mounds created by the
excavation process formed a sand prairies habitat after seeds from
nearby natural sand prairies blew onto the mounds. The channelization of
the Mississippi and Missouri rivers destroyed most of the natural sand
prairie leaving Wakonda State Park's sand prairie a rare remaining
example of this type of landscape in Missouri. Sand-loving plants such
as sandgrass, sand dropseed and prairie sunflower flourish, along with
rare plants including sand primrose, dotted beebalm and winged pigweed.
Hiking and bicycling trails provide access to view the sand prairie,
lakes and waterfowl.
Sand from the quarries also helped to create the
state park system's largest natural sand swimming beach along Wakonda
Lake. The 20,000-square-foot beach offers plenty of room to lounge in
the sun or get in a game of sand volleyball. A snack bar is located near
the beach. For overnight guests, 86 campsites, a mix of basic, electric
and sewer/electric/water, are available near Lake Boulder. Unique to
Wakonda State Park, recreational trailers are available to rent. They
feature air conditioning, showers, refrigerators and microwave ovens and
are perfect for families. Picnic areas and a playground also make the
park a great place for family gatherings.
Wakonda State Park
is listed on the National Audubon Society's
River Birding Trail.
87 bird species have been recorded for the park. Look for grassland
species such as Lark and Field Sparrows and the Dickcissel. Also,
Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers, American White Pelicans, and
Bitterns may be seen along with various waterfowl and wading birds.
The Missouri Audubon Society
checklist for birds that can be seen at this site.
Wakonda State Park
grounds are open from 7 am - 10 pm year-round. The park gate opens and
closes at these times. Day-use areas close at sunset.
From April 15 - October 31, the park office is open
daily from 7:30 am - 10 pm.
From November 1 - April 14, staff are usually available in the park
Monday through Friday. The office telephone is monitored for messages
during daytime hours.
There is no fee to visit Wakonda State Park
Wakoinda State Park is off is located of Outer Road just
east of the intersection of US-61 BUS and US-61 south of LaGrange.
Wakonda State Park
- Official site maintained by the Missouri Department of Natural
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