Bennett Spring, the fourth largest state park in Missouri, has a daily output of over 100 million gallons of water, rising out of a narrow cave. Native Americans were the first to enjoy its beauty and benefits, and referred to it as "Eye of the Sacred One." Bennett Spring was one of Missouri's first state parks. Today it is still one of the most beautiful and most popular in the state's system. Many things draw people here, but the reason that tops the list is the fishing.
By the mid-1800s, the water was powering grist mills. The most
successful of these was owned by Peter Bennett, son-in-law of the area's
first permanent settler. Farmers bringing their grain to be ground here
would often camp out by the spring and take some time to hunt and
For trout fishermen at
Bennett Spring State Park, March 1 is their New Year's Eve. The
fishermen are in the water, rods at the ready. When the siren sounds to
signal the start of the season, wrists flick, lines fly, and for some
lucky angler, fish are caught.
How the Trout Got Here
privately-owned fish hatchery stocked trout in 1923. The Missouri
Conservation Commission introduced 40,000 rainbow trout into Bennett
Spring in 1926. Today, over 320,000 pounds of rainbow and brown trout
are released here every year. The regular trout season runs from March 1
through October 31. From early November to early February, it's
catch-and-release season on Friday-Sunday.
In addition to fishing, park visitors can enjoy 12 miles of hiking
trails, with an abundance of wildlife and wildflowers to be found along
the paths. Area outfitters can provide float trips on the Niangua River.
The Nature Interpretive Center is a great place to get an overview of
the park's wildlife, as well as learn the history of the spring.
Many of the facilities that make Bennett Spring State Park unique were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The roads, trails, cabins, the classic arched bridge over the spring branch, and the dining lodge all date to this time. Today the park also offers modern motel rooms and camping.
For information on Bennett Spring, please contact the park at (417) 532-4307 or visit their website.