Sometimes you visit a place for the first time, and it feels like you have been there before. That’s how my visit to Wakonda State Park was. The park is a couple hours north of Saint Louis, and is the furthest north I have traveled in Missouri. It is a cool park that was created through a combination of natural processes and human involvement.
Ancient glaciers carved the land, and deposited large amounts of gravelly rock as they receded. These deposits ran very deep, and were mined as a source of road surfacing material throughout the 1900s. As the deposits became exhausted the land was given to the Missouri State Park Board. The six gravel excavation sites turned into lakes, and the Sand that was moved early on in the mining became a natural habitat for many plants that are rare in Missouri today.
I don’t know if it was the water, the rolling hills of northern Missouri, or the crisp fall morning, but the area felt familiar to me. It kind of reminded me of my home state of Michigan.
There are a number of trails that explore Wakonda State Park. None of them are particularly difficult as the area is fairly flat, and the paths are wide and grassy, but they traverse a beautiful environment. The trail I followed circumnavigates the largest lake, Lake Agate.
Lake Agate has a loose C shape, and on the central peninsula is one of the Sand Prairies that were made by the excavation. The sand prairies are like small sand dunes with grass and trees inhabiting the shoreline.
There were a few people running the trails that morning, and I can see why. If I lived closer I think that I would go there all the time to run, kayak, and swim.
At the end of the prairie trail I found a wonderful picnic area under a lone tall tree, with a wooden overlook nearby. I could have stayed all day listening to the waves.
Continuing along Lake Agate there was a lot of beautiful shoreline to explore. As the path continued around the far side of the lake, the park butts up to a farm. The two sides of the trail are an interesting juxtaposition.
The farm workers were busy harvesting the crops, and I had a pretty good view from where I was walking. About half of the trail bordered the farmland giving plenty of opportunity to see them at work.
In case it’s hard to tell, I was completely enamored with this park. Aside from the sense of familiarity, I think I liked it so much because it was unlike any other park I have explored this past year. Instead of rocky mountains it had rolling hills, and in place of valleys and rivers there were lakes.
Exploring the Ozark range has been an amazing experience, and I will be going back more this year, but it is easy to fall into a creative rut when you only explore one type of environment. That is why I enjoy photographing urban settings as much as nature; each environment has its own challenges and provides new opportunities to experiment.
Shooting a mostly wide open space like Wakonda requires very careful composition, or else landscape images will be empty and boring. Finding a strong focal point that will draw the viewer into the image is key, whether it be an interesting piece of driftwood or the lines created by the shoreline. I love confronting these new challenges, and considering how I can use what I’ve learned in future outings.
Thank you for reading! I really enjoy exploring all of the different parks and conservation areas I go to, and having the ability to share my travels with you. If you enjoy my work, and want to help support me, please take a look at my store, and consider purchasing a print or two! Also, follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date on where I am, and to see more photographs from my adventures.