News Release 173

DNR announces 2009 boost in visitors to Wakonda State Park, 6 percent growth in visitors to State Parks last year

Volume 38-173 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Sue Holst
573-751- 6510

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., MARCH 29, 2010 -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today that Wakonda State Park near La Grange saw a 130 percent increase in visitors in 2009.  The announcement follows an earlier announcement by Gov. Jay Nixon that Missouri’s system of state parks saw an overall increase in visitors of 6 percent last year.

“Wakonda State Park is just one of the many gems to be found in Missouri’s state park system,” Gov. Jay Nixon said.  “With the opportunities for inexpensive recreation and family activity that Wakonda State Park provides for folks in the northeast Missouri area and beyond, it’s no wonder that people flocked to the park last year in growing numbers.”

 The Division of State Parks reports that 135,612 visits were made to Wakonda State Park in 2009. The previous year, the division recorded 58,870 visits to Wakonda State Park. The 130 percent increase in visitors over the previous year at this park is reflective of a larger trend that shows the number of visitors to Missouri state parks on the upswing for the first time in a decade.

Wakonda State Park provides something for everyone with six lakes and a rare sand prairie. Located in the Mississippi River floodplain, the park is composed of land that was once mined of sand and gravel then transformed into a recreational area. The park features Missouri's largest natural sand beach, picnic areas, great fishing and birdwatching opportunities, hiking and bicycling trails, a campground and recreational rental trailers. 

On Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon noted in his remarks at the initial meeting of the Children in Nature Challenge initiative, which he created via Executive Order 10-18 on Feb. 26, that total attendance at Missouri state parks in 2009 had risen to more than 15,890,785 visitors.  This is an increase of nearly one million visitors from the 2008 attendance figure of 14,937,471.

Gov. Nixon has implemented several initiatives encouraging awareness and use of Missouri’s tremendous system of State Parks and Historic Sites.  In addition to the Children in Nature initiative, Gov. Nixon has created the State Parks Youth Corps, which will put one thousand young Missourians to work this summer on projects beautifying and maintaining state parks and historic sites.  He has also worked with the Missouri Division of Tourism to encourage people from Missouri and neighboring states to vacation at or near state parks.   

Wakonda State Park is located 3 miles south of La Grange on U.S. 61 in Lewis County. People requiring special services or accommodations can call the site at 573-655-2280 or the Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). For information about state parks and historic sites, visit the Web at