Every now and then, it’s great to escape from our fast-paced jobs, our daily routines and the stress that comes with it all to unplug and unwind. If you’re looking for a place to do just that, then I have found your unplugged oasis… and it’s closer than you think.
Destination: Salem, Missouri
Nestled in the heart of the Ozarks, Salem is located in south-central Missouri. Just 30 minutes south of Rolla, 2 hours southwest of St. Louis, 2 hours northeast of Springfield and less than 4 hours southeast of Kansas City, Salem is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
The city of Salem gets its name from the Jewish word “Shalom,” meaning peace. After having explored the area, I couldn’t have picked a more accurate moniker.
Near the Mark Twain National Forest and on the banks of the Current River, Salem puts Missouri’s natural beauty on full display. With rushing rivers, serene springs and breathtaking blufftop views, it’s easy to fully engage all your senses and forget about the hustle and bustle of daily life… even just for a moment.
If you enjoy hiking, camping, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hunting or any other outdoor activities, put a pin on your map for Salem. You can learn more about everything Salem, Missouri has to offer by clicking here.
Lodging: Big Hollow Retreat
During our stay, we had the pleasure of staying at Big Hollow Retreat on Sinking Creek. This hidden gem gives you that camping feel without having to deal with the weather, bugs, lack of plumbing and any other inconvenience that camping can bring.
I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing and peaceful haven for our unplugged weekend getaway. This three-bedroom, two-bathroom home can sleep nine adults and has so much room for entertaining… but, my favorite part? The VIEW. From the spacious back deck, you can see and hear the water rushing from Sinking Creek. It sounds like one of those ambient noise machines is playing 24/7 except that it’s happening in real-time!
Not to mention, you can really experience Missouri’s flora and fauna without even leaving the property. We swam in the creek, followed a stream beneath a canopy of trees and even stumbled upon some wildlife.
We spent each night under the stars (which you can see SO brightly) grilling, sitting around the campfire and making s’mores… only to come inside and fall into the comfiest king size bed ever or take a bath in the oversized soaking tub. It doesn’t get more relaxing than that.
I have one complaint: that we didn’t stay longer.
You can view additional photos and book your stay at Big Hollow Retreat by clicking here.
Activities: Getting Back to Nature
As I mentioned above, Salem is the perfect place to unplug and get back to nature. Whether you want to explore a cave, swim in a spring, take in the scenery, or even just relax by the campfire, Salem offers that and so much more.
Floating the Current River
The Current River is HANDS DOWN the most beautiful river I’ve floated in Missouri. While the water is a little chilly year-round due to the natural springs feeding into the river, the views are worth every goosebump!
We floated on a raft from Silver Arrow Canoe Rentals so we could take our time and enjoy the scenery. Our float time was 9 AM, so we got a crisp start to the day but the cool water felt great when the heat from the afternoon sun was beating down on us.
Halfway through our float, we came upon Cave Spring. The cave is actually big enough to go into and explore! We banked our raft, swam across the river and pulled ourselves onto some rocks at the mouth of the cave. It was filled with people! Everyone was taking turns jumping into the deep water within the depths of the cave. So, we had to indulge of course!
You can choose several different float length options, depending on how long you want to stay on the water. My tips are – bring sunscreen (of course), plenty of water, snacks, a waterproof bag, and for those of you wondering, yes… a cold beer. 😉
Because we spent all day Saturday floating the Current River, we didn’t have as much time to hike and explore as we wanted. I’m going to mention the trail that we did, but I will also provide some links to other notable trails, springs or parks below.
This three-quarter mile trail is the perfect quick nature walk that leads to a cave and spring at the end. The building that you see in the photo is actually the entrance to an old sanatorium that housed tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s. Yep, you read that right. They believed the fresh cave air would help cure individuals with “consumption,” asthma and other related illnesses. Turns out, it didn’t. (Are we really surprised?)
Anyway, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a beautiful spot that is both quiet and photo-worthy!
*One warning I saw online said wading in the spring may cause injury due to metal debris from the hospital. Soo… maybe don’t do that.
Rocky Falls Shut-In: Eminence, MO
Although we didn’t have quite enough time to visit, I want to highlight Rocky Falls in Eminence because you can definitely squeeze it into your weekend trip if you plan accordingly! Rocky Falls is approximately 40 miles from Salem and boasts a cascading waterfall that flows into a natural pool. You can wade in the water, climb on the rocks or even snorkel if you’re brave enough!
Honestly, you could spend the whole day here. There are picnic areas available right by the water, so pack a lunch, grab some lawn chairs, a couple of beach towels, and you’ll be set for the rest of the day. If you’re interested in learning more or planning a visit, click here for more info.
Other Noteworthy Sites
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do everything we wanted during our short weekend trip, but that doesn’t mean we won’t venture out on our next trip to explore some of these other noteworthy sites in or near Salem. Click the links to learn more about each one. Enjoy!
- Devil’s Well – A 200-foot deep sinkhole cave near Akers, MO, that contains the largest underground lake in the state.
- Echo Bluff State Park – An outdoor destination filled with swimming, fishing, hiking, camping and more. You may even see wild horses!
- Current River State Park – Many trails to choose from, ranging from 1.4-5.25 mile loops. You won’t want to miss the views!
- Montauk State Park – Quiet retreat for hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking and more right on the Current River. You can even tour an old gristmill that was built in 1896.
- Bo’s Hollow – Take a step back in time when you visit this 1930s village with a post office, barbershop, service station and more.
- Round Spring Caverns – Tour this beautiful natural wonder! You can also camp on-site while enjoying the views of Round Spring.
- Alley Spring – The 7th largest spring in Missouri. Make sure to check out the bright red gristmill on the property that was built in 1894.
Getting Off the Grid is Good for the Soul
I truly didn’t realize how much I needed this weekend getaway until I was there. Time seemed to slow down and I was actually able to take a deep breath and live in the moment… as cliché as it sounds. Soaking in Missouri’s beauty made me truly lucky to call this state “home.” I can’t wait to plan our next trip to Salem and I hope you begin planning yours, too.
Onto the next adventure.