The Mother Road to the Mother Lode

Thanks to the ever declining value of the dollar and the rapidly disappearing act of a reliable paycheck, many families are forced to find activities that are less expensive and closer to home, bad news for the National travel industry, but good news for businesses on the regional and local level.

One hidden gem in Missouri is Laclede County as it seems to have more than it’s share of outdoor related activities making it a perfect area to do a little “stay-cationing”.  The Mother Road-Historic Route 66, travels right through Laclede County and puts you smack dab in the middle of the Mother Lode of family-friendly outdoor recreational opportunities.

A veteran fly fisherman takes in the morning at Bennett Springs

If fishing is your thing, then the first stop is a no-brainer, Bennett Springs State Park just north of Lebanon. Despite the fact that it is one of Missouri’s oldest parks, it still is one of the favorite and has earned numerous awards such as the “Best of Rural Missouri”  handed out by readers of the rural Missouri-based magazine. With over 3,000 scenic acres there are plenty of outdoor activities for the family or individual to enjoy. The “Springs” has five campgrounds spread around the park.

In addition camping and 12 miles of hiking trails, what really attracts people to Bennett Springs State Park is the fishing. This park operates one of the Midwest’s finest trout hatcheries and for the small price of a daily trout tag you and your family can fish for a variety of trout species, especially rainbow trout. Imagine standing knee-deep in cool waters while trophy-trout weave in and out through your legs. The Springs naturally produce nearly 100,000,000 gallons of unspoiled water every day, which probably explains why the trout population is thriving here. There are also fly tying classes and a fly fishing school available as well.  Fishing gear, including waders can be rented at the park store for a small fee.

Whether you are a dyed in the wool fly fisherman or prefer to change things up a bit and use a bait caster, this stretch of water is an ideal location to hone your technique.

Here's your sign! All photos by Lisa Metheny

After you catch your daily limits on trout, you might want to look into another great outdoor activity for the family and that is canoeing the waters of Missouri’s Little Niangua River. Just a few miles from the park entrance is a great canoe rental called One Eye Willy’s. For about $40 for a day trip, One Eyed Willy’s will transport family and belongings to the launch site and return you to your vehicle. They do all the work; you just reap the rewards of planning an uber-fun family outing. 

Besides the canoeing, trout fishing and hiking this location is a perfect one-tank trip option which is easy on the bank account and can provide unlimited entertainment options for the family.

Pack up the kids, fishing gear and cooler and hit the Mother Road to Lebanon, Missouri for an awesome opportunity to fish, camp and canoe. For more information visit

Guest post by Lisa Metheny of Outdoor Inspirations