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Mark Twain National Forest
Mark Twain National Forest
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The Mark Twain National Forest Region is located in the southern half of Missouri. The destination is named after the Mark Twain National Forest, which covers most of the land within its borders. The area produces many fruits and vegetables along with grain and hay.[4] The summer months are most popular for outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and fishing.[1] The forest contains unique waterways and natural springs in addition to the greenery. Native Americans lived in the territory for decades before the arrival of the first European settlers.[8] The small cities of Lebanon and Poplar Bluff are both located within the destination.[3] Winters are freezing and wet, while summers are warm and humid. These weather patterns make it possible for plants and wildlife to live comfortably within the cities and forest.[6]

What Mark Twain National Forest is known for

The Mark Twain National Forest Region is covered almost entirely by the Mark Twain National Forest. There are also miles of crops and farmland along with some small cities within its borders. The Mark Twain National Forest sits on over one and a half million acres of land. The forest is known for maintaining a healthy, functional forest and for preserving many of Missouri's natural communities. The forest has many recreational activities for all ages and capabilities. There are over seven hundred fifty miles of trails that can be used for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Many of these trails are also approved to be used by motorized vehicles such as four-wheelers, dirt bikes, and side by sides. There are multiple sections of the famous Ozark Trail that weave through the Mark Twain National Forest. Camping areas, picnic spots, and restrooms spread through the forest's more trafficked areas for visitors. There are over three hundred and fifty miles of streams, rivers, and other waterways throughout the park. Water activities are commonly enjoyed in these streams and rivers, including canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The Eleven Point National Scenic River was established in 1968 and is a forty-four-mile float river through the forest. The river is free of impoundments and has an undeveloped shoreline. The river also runs through the Ozark Hills of southern Missouri. There are seven congressionally designated wilderness areas and twenty-six thousand special areas throughout the forest. The state manages the special areas for the protection of cultural or historical resources and unusual environment preservation.[1] 

Poplar Bluff is a small city located in the southernmost corner of the Mark Twain National Forest Region. The city is surrounded by the Green Forest and is known as "The Gateway to the Ozarks." The Mo-Ark Regional Railroad Museum and a large amusement park are located in Poplar Bluff. The city has a population of seventeen thousand people and is known for its prominent farmer's markets with fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains.[2] 

Fort Leonard Wood is located in the northern corner of the Mark Twain National Forest Region. The United States Army training installation is located just inside the Missouri Ozarks. With a pass, visitors can tour the base and learn more about the history within the fort.[3] Lebanon's city was originally home to the Wyota and Osage Indians and was the first city in Missouri to have telegraph lines installed along the city. Some of those lines are still preserved to this day, and visitors can tour the old Indian heritage sites. Lebanon has a population of just under fifteen thousand people.[5] The state of Missouri ranks seventh in soybean production and grows an abundant amount of fruit crops, grain, and hay. Livestock is raised all throughout the state, and many commercial and private farms are located in the Mark Twain National Forest Region.[4]

Geography

The Mark Twain National Forest Region lies within the Ozark Highlands and spreads across miles of southern Missouri. The ancient landscape is well maintained with large permanent springs, rocky, barren glades, nationally recognized streams, old volcanic mountains, and over five thousand caves. The forest covers over one and a half million acres and reaches down into Arkansas. Mark Twain National Forest is located in the center of the destination. The borders reach out to Poplar Bluff to the south, Fredericktown to the east, Marshfield to the west, and Rolla to the North.[1] 

Summers in the Mark Twain National Forest Region are warm and humid, while the winters can be freezing and wet. It is partly cloudy year-round throughout the region. The hot season is around four months long, with an average daily temperature of eighty degrees. The cold season lasts for three months, from November to February. The average daily temperature is around forty-five degrees. The area sustains a lot of moisture, with around ten inches of rain a year and three inches of snow. The best time to visit the area for warm-weather activities is between the months of May to June and from late July to September.[6] The area has around two million visitors every year.[7] The Mark Twain National Forest is well preserved and home to many animal and plant species. Commonly seen animals may include white-tailed deer, turkey, quail, woodcock, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, bobcats, and coyotes.[6] 

Due to the twenty-six different special areas within the forest, plant and animal life vary depending on the area located. Common plants include oaks, hickories, shortleaf pine, basswood, yellow poplar, flowering dogwood, and sugar maple. During the spring, wildflowers are in abundance from March through June.[10] The people of the area are known for selling their produce grown on local farms and have sold to visitors and locals. They grow apples, peaches, grapes, watermelons, potatoes, tomatoes, and other foods. Livestock and their feed are also commonly produced and sold in the area.[4]

History

The Mark Twain National Forest was created on February 17th, 1976. The forest was once known as the Clark National Forest. Mark Twain National Forest is the only national forest in Missouri. Native Americans lived in the area for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. The country attracted settlers over the years who utilized the area's natural resources.[1] 

In the 1870s, civilians started logging the state's native oak, hickory, and pine forests. When the business began to take over the forest, the area was then purchased by the government to manage. Greer Spring is the second largest spring in Missouri and is considered the most pristine scenic spring in the state. Native Indians lived around the spring to gain fresh water for decades. One of the world's largest lead ore deposits was discovered in the forest in the 1900s, and over two hundred fifty million tons of the ore have been recovered.[8] 

The French were the first Europeans to settle in the area that is now Poplar Bluff's city. The city became well established in the early 1900s, but in 1927 one of the largest tornadoes in the United States leveled the city and caused everything to be reconstructed.[2] Fort Leonard Wood was named in honor of General Leonard Wood in January 1941. The fort was initially built to train infantry troops, and in 1941 became an engineer training post. During World War II, many Italian and German POWs were interned at the fort.[3] The entire Mark Twain National Forest has many historical monuments, museums, and local heritage stores.[1]

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The Fair Winds Cabins is a cluster of six cabins located in Cherryville, Missouri, and are found right on the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest. There are five cabins—some of them larger than others—and one lodge that is meant to house groups of up to ten people at a time. Fair Winds Cabins' motto is "unplug and reconnect," which is a reference to the fact that the cabins generally have no internet access and a minimal amount of cell service. The cabins are spaced a fair distance away from each other, which provides guests the chance to have a peaceful and relaxing vacation. Due to the lack of internet access, there is much more emphasis on outdoor activities and indoor relaxation. For those who wish to bring along their pets, several of the cabins are pet-friendly and allow guests to bring them along for an additional fee.

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