Dads - Get your kids outside this Father's Day and you could win a part of a $500 jackpot in Alpine Shop gift cards. The challenge is simple: we're inviting all Dads to bring their families outside to play. Take a picture of you with them outside. Post it on our facebook page by midnight, Sunday, June 19, 2011. We'll select random winners from all of our Dad photos on Monday, June 20. Studies continue to show the need for Dads (and Moms) to bring their little ones outside, to get them back in touch with mother nature. Books have been written about it. States across our nation are actively trying to figure out ways to get kids off the couch and back outside, including Missouri. So Dads, while we encourage you to take a hike in a nearby park, to get out in canoe or kayak, or even to ride your bike; really, we just hope you'll breathe some non-air-conditioned air for at least a little while to celebrate your Father's Day. If you need some ideas for a Dad's Day adventure, we're happy to provide you a few of our favorite family-friendly escapes at the bottom of this article. As we did for our Mother's Day contest, we will accept photos from the past for those Dads who can not be with your family - or vice versa. And for those of you looking for some last minute Father's Day gifts, Alpine Shop has a huge selection of presents perfect for any outdoor-loving Dad. As promised, here are some great kid-friendly adventures in and within 2 hours of St. Louis. Get to it, Dad!
Hiking and Exploring Adventures:
- Rockwoods Reservation, Eureka, Mo. - Trails for hikers of all ages and skill levels as well as wildlife exhibits. Plenty of picnic grounds and fields for group meals.
- Powder Valley Nature Center, Kirkwood, Mo. - Easy to get to, incredible nature center, easy trails. Great local asset.
- Amidon Conservation Area near Fredericktown, Mo. - The Castor River Shut-ins here is one of Missouri's best play spots for kids both young and old. (Shhhh! It's a secret!)
- Johnson's Shut-ins State Park near Lesterville, Mo. (and the Ozark Trail that runs through it) - One of Missouri's most popular state parks. If you come on a weekend during the summer, prepare for crowds at Mother Nature's waterpark.
- Pickle Springs Natural Area near Farmington, Mo. - Short length, incredible rock formations, fun for everybody!
- Meramec State Park, Sullivan, Mo. - The absolute gem for camping and outdoor adventures for families. Trails, beaches on the river, and over 75 caves and numerous springs.
- Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg, Mo. - Camping, cave tours, canoeing. Great place for a long weekend.
- Simpson Lake County Park, Valley Park, Mo. - A local, hidden gem just off Highway 141. Bring a bird guidebook, a canoe and fishing poles.
- Meramec River- Consider put-ins near Steelville, Leasburg or Sullivan for best water quality and natural beauty. Besides the Missouri and the Mississippi, probably the most recognized river in the area - and the easiest to access.
- Huzzah Creek, Leasburg, Mo.- (Hoo-za) More advanced young paddlers can take off on their own sit-on-top kayaks (rented through numerous outfitters) on this gorgeous clearwater gem which drains into the Meramec near Leasburg, Mo..
- Grant's Trail in South County, St. Louis - Flat, easy, and even at its most crowded is still enjoyable.
- Katy Trail, beginning in St. Charles, Mo. - One-day trips to week-long adventures on 235 miles of bike trail between St. Charles and Clinton, Mo.
- Lost Valley Trail in the Weldon Springs Conservation Area in St. Charles - Fabulous for both hiking and biking with clear creeks and miles of wooded, flat trails.
- Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo. - Local, with a myriad of opportunities for other activities.
Happy Father's Day to all of our adventure-loving Dads!