Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is a public recreation area in Reynolds County, Missouri.  Running along the East Fork Black River, the state-owned and operated park encompasses more than 8,600 acres of land.  Its name is derived from where the river’s breadth is limited by hard rock, thus the term “shut-it.”  The park was originally established in 1955 and is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  Visitors may also spend time at the Black River Center when visiting Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

History of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is named after the Johnston family, a Scotch-Irish immigrant who owned the land after moving west out of the Appalachian region.  However, in 1905, the land was purchased by Joseph Desloge, and he took ownership of it.  Desloge, born in 1889, was a civic leader and conservationist from St. Louis, Missouri.  His family was well-known for their mining business, from which they donated funds to help create Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

For 17 years, Desloge worked to create the park alongside the riverfront. Finally, in 1955, he donated the land to the state.  Desloge later passed away in 1971.

Closing and Reopening of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

A flood struck Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in December of 2005, caused by a pump failure from the Taum Sauk storage plant reservoir.  The flood caused major damage to the state park and even resulted in minor injuries to the park’s superintendent’s family, who were on the grounds at the time.  Following the flood, Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park was closed to the public.

In the summer of 2006, some of the parks were reopened to the public.  However, all swimming in the river or any location near the rocks was prohibited for use by the public as it was too dangerous still.  Three years later, in 2009, the river area was reopened, being deemed safe for swimming and exploring once again.  Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park management team even opened up a new campground for use the following year.


Missouri residents and visitors can do many different activities at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.  A major attraction is swimming in the shut-ins that have been created.  Many also go to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park for a fun camping experience where walk-in, basic, electric, sewer/electric/water, and equestrian electric/water campsites are offered.  If you’re not that intrigued by camping outdoors, six camper cabins are available for lodging.  Visitors may also hike the park trails, ride horses, go bicycle riding, and even participate in many programs offered by the Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park team, particularly during the summer season.  Horse riders may bring their own horses to the Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail, a 10-mile long loop.  Most of all, the Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park team encourages all to come, relax and enjoy the beautiful nature scene laid before them.

Park hours vary from season to season yet always begin at 8 a.m.  The camper cabins on the premises are available from March through December.  For more information, visit Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park official website.