While visiting Van Buren, it’s a must-do to visit Big Spring National Park. This guide gives a local’s perspective and some helpful tips for your visit to one of the largest springs in the U.S.
There are two entrances to Big Spring National Park that essentially make a big loop through the park. The main route is just continuing down Hwy 103 into the park after turning off Highway 60. There is a newly renovated ranger station that is periodically open. There will be sign out by the road if the station is open. The station has park maps and other useful information for your visit, and you can have questions answered from a park ranger.
The second way is turning left onto Peavine off of Hwy 103 at the South Van Buren Baptist church.
You can drive all the way to the spring and there is plenty of parking available. There are handicap spots and the spring is very accessible for most people. There is a small cave at the base of the springs that is fun for kids and kids at heart to climb into. There is a short loop trail that connect around the back side of the Spring that is not handicap accessible, but accessible to most.
Other than walking to the Spring, you can walk across a bridge that was rebuilt after the 2017 Current River flood and opened Summer 2020.
The park service recently rebuilt two pavilions in Summer 2022 and replaced one of the bathrooms. There are plenty of picnic tables to have lunch from one of Van Buren’s dining options. (link to dining page)
The park has several restrooms throughout the park that are well maintained. A few close in the winter months but they typically have one open year round by the boat ramp.
Unfortunately, the park is not allowed to update the playground equipment so it is limited in equipment for children.
Take a drive through the park at dusk and you’ll likely see deer in the field by the spring, as long as the weather is right. We’ve seen nearly 40 deer several times in the field!
Deer at Spring by Albert Allen
The boat ramp is a great place to put your jet boat in. The parking lot fills up quickly on the weekends in the summer, but there’s plenty of overflow parking along the road to the spring in the grass. Currently, there are no motor restrictions if you head down stream from the boat ramp at Big Spring but if you had upstream, you will need to have a 40 hp motor or less. You can read more about the motor restriction here:
The Big Spring Campground is located near Big Spring, south of Van Buren, Missouri. Electric and non-electric sites are available at Big Spring year-round. Some sites are reservable and others are available on a first come first serve basis. Sites may be reserved at www.recreation.gov. or click here.
Renovations and Trail Closures
A temporary closure of the Chubb Hollow area, including pavilion, group camping sites and trail access is in effect. This closure is due to the renovation of the area in conjunction with the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins project.
Big Spring Fun Facts
- The Big Spring is sometimes called America’s biggest spring. In reality, there are three contenders for that title: Big Spring, Idaho’s Snake River Spring Complex and Florida’s Silver Spring. Since the flow from springs varies with local rainfall, any of these three might be biggest on any given day depending on the weather in Missouri, Idaho and Florida! The truth is they are all about the same size.
- An average daily flow of 286 million gallons of water, Big Spring is an awesome sight and a geologic wonder.
- Underground passages carry water from as far as 45 miles away to emerge at the spring.
Find more information about the park at https://www.nps.gov/ozar/planyourvisit/big-spring.htm