Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 25

Sunset over Rockhouse Marsh is a gorgeous sight any time of year. As night approaches, waterfowl return from their afternoon feeding to the
sanctuary of the refuge and the calls of great-horned owls echo through the swamp.
still a good idea," Debbie says. "But our wilderness is accessible. It's pristine, and it's what a wilderness experience
should be without having to fight really hard to get to it."
Photography is a great entry point for youth in the outdoors. The annual photo contest organized by the nonprofit Mingo Swamp Friends offers a youth category and photography workshop to help kids capture the wonder of the
swamp's native plants and animals. A drive on the Ozark
Highlands Auto Tour, open March through November,
circles much of the refuge and has become a Thanksgiving tradition for local families for decades. Some of Mingo's
secrets only can be found off road, if not out on the water.
"The beauty of mushroom hunting here near the
Bootheel is that it's so humid we don't just have a 'morel
run,'‚ÄČ" Corey, an avid mushroom hunter, says. He adds the
refuge also has regulations that allow for berry and pokeweed collecting from March through September. "We have
morels, chicken of the woods, chanterelles, lion's mane,
the list goes on. And a chanterelle quiche in the middle of
July, you just can't beat it."
More well known about Mingo and Duck Creek are
their reputations as fishing hot spots. Along with nearby
Lake Wappapello - which also accepts the pass for boat

launching - the three areas hold 12 state records for multiple species. "It's very fishing friendly because there are a
lot of banks to fish from," Debbie adds.
Perhaps the best way to experience Missouri's swampland is from behind a paddle. A canoe trail down the Mingo
River gives visitors another way to access the wilderness
area rather than slogging it on foot. The 2,800-acre Monopoly Marsh is best accessed by kayak and canoe from
March through May before blooming American lotus pads
block the way. "People who talk about old-time paddling in
Mingo, this is what they're talking about," Corey says. "It's
a big deal, if you like an adventure."
So whether you're planning for someone's first fall
hunting trip, a drive to look for spring wildflowers or a
true backcountry hiking experience, consider a trip to one
of Missouri's best-kept secrets that's best enjoyed with
friends and family.
For more information on Every Kid Outdoors, visit www.
everykidoutdoors.gov. For more information on Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/mingo. We
recommend checking the refuge website or calling ahead to
be aware of pass availability, closures or changes.

Left: Known for alligator gar and cottonmouths, Mingo's more commonly sighted and docile residents include red-eared sliders. The refuge is home
to more than 30 species of reptiles and amphibians. Right: Bald cypress trees along the Mingo River turn the road leading to the Mingo Wilderness
Area into a classic symbol of swampland in the southern United States.
AUGUST 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

25


http://www.everykidoutdoors.gov http://www.everykidoutdoors.gov http://www.fws.gov/refuge/mingo http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - August 2020

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