Ft. Leonard Wood is located in central Missouri right off of highway I-44. If you’ve been there, you’ll soon find it’s not near any large towns or urban centers (hence the nickname “Fort Lost-in-the-Woods). However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t grand adventures to be had! If you find yourself in the area, here are some fun things to do that are all within two hours’ drive of the base:
Located about two hours east of Ft. Wood you’ll find Elephant Rocks, a geological wonder set in the hills of Missouri. The area is home to huge, pink granite boulders that have formed interesting shapes and are super fun to climb on. The “herd” of elephant-sized rocks can be viewed from the hiking trails, along with an old granite railroad engine house still on the park land.
2. Military Museums
If you’re looking for something really close, Ft. Wood itself is home to several museums, including the WWII Museum Complex. You can wander through WWII era buildings, learn about segregation in the military, and visit German POW barracks. The Historic Vehicle Park is outdoors and features, well, historic military vehicles!
If you have kids (or, like me, just love alpacas), the Promise Alpaca Ranch can be a fun stop. This small, family-owned farm has an alpaca petting zoo, hay rides, and farm tours. Double check to be sure they’re open the day you want to visit and go have a farm adventure!
4. The Antique Trail
If you like perusing dead people’s stuff like I do, you’ve got to take advantage of the Antique Trail that runs around Ft. Wood. The area has a bunch of flea markets and antique malls, and you can pick up a brochure with all the locations on a map online or in any of the shops. Missourians love their flea markets, so you’ll be sure to find lots of interesting old things!
5. Local festivals
Keep an eye on the Pulaski County calendar for local festivals and seasonal events. You’ll find classic car shows, rodeos, craft shows, and runs scheduled throughout the year!
6. Miller Cave
Miller Cave is one of many caves located at Ft. Wood, but it’s the only one open to the public. If you like hiking and spelunking that’s a bit rugged, this is the cave for you. Used for hundreds of years by peoples native to the area, the cave also has some petroglyphs, or ancient carvings, that you can find, too.
7. Old Settlers Day
This is a local festival in nearby Waynesville that includes Civil War reenactments and lots of living history. They reenact battles, set up historical camps, and have lots of delicious food and local goods to buy, too. Keep up to date with this year’s happenings as the festival approaches on the Facebook page.
A little over an hour’s drive north on I-44, Meramec Caverns is the largest commercial cave in Missouri. It has lots of rare and giant cave formations to ooo and aaaah over, and rangers will tell you about the history as they guide you along the cave trails.
This state park has lots of activities to choose from, including hiking, fishing, and lake fun. The park has 15 miles of trails that encounter sink holes, caves, bluffs, beautiful vistas, and natural bridges. There’s also a lake and the ruins of an early 1900s mansion (in our picture above) to check out!
10. The St. Louis Arch
I mean, DUH! St. Louis is right there, just two hours away! Go check out the famous arch and enjoy all the other things STL has to offer like major league baseball, the art museum, the City Museum, the Hill, and the Science Center.
Have you been to Ft. Wood? Do you have any other recommendations for fun things to do nearby?
Tiffany of “Seeing Sunshine” also has a great list of things to do near Ft. Leonard Wood.
Of course, I share all of the links and entities in this post as an individual representing my own opinions, not as an endorsement by the Department of Defense or Air Force.