Family Guide to Arcadia Valley Missouri

The Visit Neighboring States Series

Southeast Missouri has been called the “Mecca of state parks“. Home to large portions of the Mark Twain National Forest, the challenging Ozark trail and geological wonders such as Elephant Rocks State Park, your family will find an abundance of fun and adventure.

Little children on flat rock at Elephant Rocks State Park

Family Guide to Arcadia Valley Missouri

Arcadia Valley welcomes families with kid friendly accommodations at reasonable rates like the family suites at Shepherd Mountain Inn or Arcadia Cabins.

Plenty of home-style cooking and warm southern hospitality is spread throughout the small community.

The Arcadia Valley Visitor Center serves as a working Amtrak station and historical museum. Find maps and brochures for touring the area. Cell service is unreliable, so be sure to pick up an area map.


Working train station and visitor center at Arcadia Valley Inronton Missouri


How to get to Arcadia Valley in Ironton Missouri

From central Iowa, the trip is around a seven hour drive with a little more time added for breaks.  

Spread out the Missouri fun!

Families traveling from western Iowa can come down through Kansas City and stop to play at the Science City at Union Station.

Central and eastern Iowans will find a quick trip around St. Louis to be the easiest route. On the way back home, swing by the incredible, not to be missed City Museum for a full day of play.

Just a short 80 mile drive southeast of St. Louis, the small towns of Pilot Knob, Ironton & Arcadia are easy to navigate and have everything you’ll need for a great stay. 

Farmington, a larger suburb town with more amenities, is about 30 minutes away from Ironton.


Outdoor Adventures

Looking for a break from all the hiking and state parks? Take a memorable trail ride with Arcadia Valley Stables by Plain & Fancy BB.

Horse trail ride along Stouts Creek at Arcadia Valley Stables by Plain & Fancy BB.


Then cool off in the refreshing waters at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park or one of the area’s many natural creeks.


The Arcadia Valley Mountain Music Festival takes place twice a year, May & October at the Iron County Courthouse Square. Iron County Courthouse in Arcadia Valley Inronton Missouri - Family Guide to Arcadia Valley Missouri


Visitors who happen upon a rainy afternoon can linger in the Fort Davidson State Historic Site museum of the Battle of Pilot Knob.

Canons in front of old Fort Davidson in Arcadia Valley Inronton Missouri


Tentative Itinerary

(non-camping trip)

Day 1 –

  • Leave Iowa early in the morning.
  • Arrive in southern Missouri in mid-afternoon.
  • Enjoy a scenic state park further from the valley such as Hawn State Park. Pack a cooler for a picnic supper.  
  • Arrive at lodging after supper.

Day 2 –

  • Elephant Rocks State Park (3 hours) – climb, play and picnic lunch.
  • Afternoon rest/naps at lodging – You’ll need it after Elephant Rocks!
  • Visit the Battle of Pilot Knob museum and Historical Site (1 hour).
  • Stop by Arcadia Valley Visitor Center and snap a group picture in front of the Iron County Courthouse.
  • Drive the 10 minute trip down HWY 21 to Taum Sauk State Park and take in the wonderful views.

Day 3 –

  • Early morning trail ride with Arcadia Valley Stables.
  • Lunch at a local restaurant or make in lodging kitchenette
  • Cool off in the afternoon by wading in a local creek, shut-in or Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

Creek with rocks at Silver Mines recreational area in MO - Family Guide to Arcadia Valley Missouri

Day 4 –

  • Visit Elephant Rocks State Park one last time because it’s just so cool and your kids will beg you to go back!
  • Head an hour and half north on HWY 21 for a cave tour at Onondage Cave. Schedule ahead of time.
  • Picnic lunch in Onondaga Cave State Park or grab some fast food off I44.
  • Drive to St. Louis or northwest toward Kansas City.  

Day 5

  • Spend a day in your favorite Missouri metropolitan area taking in all the big city action.

Day 6

  • Hit up one more quick attraction.
  • Quicker trip home with sleepy happy kiddos. Thanks Missouri for all the fun!


Additional options: Spend one more day in Arcadia Valley and…

  • Go on a day trip south to one of many springs such as Reed Springs, Blue Springs or Alley Springs.
  • Take a challenging 5-12 mile day hike.
  • Other outdoor sports like golfing, rock climbing, canoeing and mountain biking.



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