Scuba diving in flyover country, just an hour south of St. Louis? Yes, you can. When the Bonne Terre Mine shut down in the ’60s, the miners left everything behind, and ground water poured in, eventually forming the aptly named Billion Gallon Lake. Today, divers can explore the underwater ghost town and see beautiful artifacts from days past, including entire buildings, a locomotive, mining equipment and more, all preserved about 100 feet under water. Divers must have open-water certification, but there are courses available on-site. Each dive is conducted in groups of 15 or less and are led by trained guides. Mini-adventurers and non-divers will also find plenty to do and can enjoy an above-water voyage on the boat-and-walking tour.
Rent an ATV at Shepherd of the Hills in Branson and go off-roading through their trails in the Ozark Mountains. The scenery is breathtaking, but you’ll be whizzing by so fast, you might not have time to take it in. Riders who feel they need a little guidance can book a one-hour instructional session before the 30-minute ride. If 30 minutes just isn’t enough, there’s also a 90-minute drive available. Shepherd of the Hills is also home to Inspiration Tower, where visitors will find the highest zip line in Missouri.
See the world from the Wallendas’ point of view at TrapezeSTL, St. Louis’ only trapeze school. In the first two-hour session, flyers will start from a platform that is 25 feet high (7.6 meters) and will learn to swing, do a basic trick, and dismount. The instructors watch carefully and give instructions throughout. Each class, which never have more than 10 people at a time, is tailored to the individual students, which means that as students progress, the classes remain challenging. As an added bonus, all proceeds from TrapezeSTL benefit Circus Harmony, a local social circus based at the City Museum.
Whether you bike it, walk it, or ride a horse on it, adventure-seekers can spend time in nature and nearly cross the state on the Katy Trail. The rail-to-trail project has been a beloved and well-used part of Missouri since the first section opened to the public in 1991. Adventurers can challenge themselves and see how far on the 240-mile trail they can make it. Or, take in the beautiful scenery, historic sites, small towns, and wineries along the trail for a more relaxing adventure.
Venture to Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri, and see the state’s tallest waterfall, Mina Sauk Falls. Hikers can take a three-mile loop that takes about three hours to complete, or opt for the 14.5-mile Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Mountain Trail, which can be completed in about 14.5 hours and will take hikers through two state parks. Both offer beautiful sites through Missouri’s oak-hickory woodlands. The longer trail will also take you to Devil’s Tollgate, a volcanic rock passage that is eight feet wide and 30 feet high. Mina Sauk is a wet-weather fall, so to see it at its best, be sure to plan your hike for shortly after rain.
You’ll be minutes from downtown Kansas City, but while swinging, climbing, and soaring among the forest canopy in Swope Park, you’ll feel as if you’re miles away. Take on the Go Ape treetop ropes course, which includes a combination of Tarzan swings, rickety bridges, and multiple zip lines that take you higher and higher, culminating with a final zip down to the ground, all in about two to three hours. With beautiful and unique views and adrenaline-inducing challenges, this walk among the treetops is a must for any Midwest adventure-seeker.
This annual endurance race stretches from one side of the state to the other, but the trek is made entirely by boat across 340 miles of the Missouri River. The race starts in Kansas City and finishes in St. Charles with nine check points along the way. Participants get 88 hours to make the journey, and if they don’t make it to a checkpoint in time, they’re automatically disqualified. The river is scenic, but if you’re trying to win, just focus on the end game. Get a team together or enter the solo division for a truly adventurous challenge.