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Big Spring

Van Buren, Missouri

based on 1 reviews



1.8 miles

Elevation Gain

413 ft

Route Type



Added by Lucas Bremer

Big Spring in the Ozark National Riverways is the largest spring in Missouri, one of the top 3 in North America, and one of the largest in the world.

With an average daily water discharge rate of 276 Million gallons of water and the largest spring in Missouri it is easy to see how Big Spring got its name. Located in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, this spring and over 20 other springs nearby feed the Current River in Southeast Missouri. The spring flows from three outlets at high flow. 

Churning out beautiful aqua-blue water (caused by eroding limestone in the karst caverns beneath the Ozark Plateau) from the base of a limestone bluff, the water creates white caps initially but quickly calms itself into a crystal clear channel. The cool 58-degree water then travels about 1,000 feet to where it adds itself to the Current River. The spring dissolves and removes as much as 175 tons of limestone during an average day. In fact, after only one year, the amount of dissolved and removed limestone from the spring would equal a one mile long cave that would be 30 feet high and 50 feet wide.

In fact several years ago a dye tracing study showed that dye introduced to a stream 39.5 miles away was found in Big Spring two weeks later. This is the longest distance groundwater was traced in the United States at the time. The spring has been explored to a depth of 80 feet during research dives.

Now a part of the National Park Service, the area is home to several trails, picnic grounds, boat launches for floating and kayaking, and a campground.

The Current River flows past the campground offering excellent canoeing, fishing, and swimming. Some of the best paddling in the Midwestern US can be found in this part of Missouri with the Jack's Fork, Current, and Black Rivers all being included as Wild and Scenic Rivers. A new addition of the Eleven Point National Scenic River gives paddlers and sightseers over 178 breathtaking miles of water to float or paddle.

Campers will find flush toilets and shower facilities. Picnic tables and fire rings, with a grill also provided. Reservations are accepted in the peak season of April - October. 

A 1.8 mile loop trail also traces the area and is good for all skill levels.

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole

Big Spring Reviews

This is a great stop in the Ozarks. The spring is massive, pushing out millions of bubbling, blue-green gallons of cold spring water that slows into a lazy river. The hike along the shore is easy and accessible for young and old alike.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Explore Rocky Falls

Hike to Blue Spring

Explore Alley Spring and Mill within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Explore the Johnson Shut-Ins

Hike Mina Sauk Falls Trail

Backpack the Bell Mountain Loop