Bennett Spring State Park is the flagship of the Missouri Trout Parks. The park draws over 1 million people a year, and it features the largest spring of the four parks.
Bennett Springs is the third largest spring in Missouri. It has a daily flow of 103 million gallons (165 cubic feet per second). The water emerges from the ground at a temperature of 56-58 degrees Fahrenheit. The pool of Bennett Springs approximately has a diameter of 50 feet and the water here is a blue-green color. The entrance to the spring is 10 feet high by 20 feet wide.
Studies conducted by James Vandike determined the spring has a recharge area of about 265 square miles that stretches east, south, southeast and southwest. The spring rises from the Gasconade Dolomite of Bennett Springs Valley. Each day the water feeding Bennett Springs dissolves and removes an estimated 60 tons of dolomite from underground passages. - Divers have explored and mapped 100 feet into the spring (a depth of 75 feet from the surface). Further exploration was prevented by high water velocity and a narrowing passage way. At 100 feet the passage way narrows to 3 feet high by 10 feet wide.
The spring's origin was attributed by the Osage Indians to an earthquake caused by the Creator's displeasure with the tribe. First white settlers were the James Brice family in 1837, joined shortly thereafter by that of Peter Bennett. Originally milling rivals, the families later intermarried. Around 1900, the Brice Inn was established and soon catered to tourists. Releases of "mountain trout" occurred in these early days. The town of Brice was purchased with the spring and other land from Bennett heirs in 1924 and 1925. A fish hatchery predated the state park. The Civilian Conservation Corps made improvements in the 1930s, and newly formed Dept. of Conservation took over fish culture in 1936. More land has been acquired, but the spring remains the key to the state park's identity as a trout fisherman's mecca.
Trout fishing is permitted in accordance with the state wildlife code and posted restrictions daily from March 1 through Oct. 31, and during the winter catch-and-release season from the second Friday in November to the second Monday in February on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday only.
Anglers need a fishing permit, unless exempt, as well as a daily trout tag. The daily trout tag is $3 for adults and $2 for those 15 and younger.
|March||6:30* 7:30**||6:00* 7:00**|
* - Central Standard Time
** - Daily Light Saving Time
Grass cutting is scheduled for April 3-4, May 14-1`5, June 25-26, Aug 6-7, and September 17-18.
|1||- From the hatchery dam upstream to the end of the area. Only flies are permitted.|
|2||- From the hatchery dam to the whistle bridge. Only flies and artificial lures are permitted.|
|3||- From the whistle bridge to the Niangua River. Only soft plastic bait (unscented), natural and scented bait are permitted. All flies and artificial lures are prohibited, even if natural bait or scent has been added.|
Bennett Spring State Park has five campgrounds and offers basic, electric, and sewer/electric/water campsites. On-season services may include reservable sites, a dump station, showers and laundry.
Campground 1 is open year-round with water available April 15 through Oct. 15.
Campgrounds 2 and 3 are open from April 15 through Oct. 31 (with water available).
Campground 4 and Campground 5 are open Feb. 25 through Oct. 31 (with water available).
For Rates - Camping Fees
Phone Reservations (7:00 AM to 10:00 PM) - 877-422-6766
Online Reservations - Online
Known as the "Eye Of The Sacred One", Indians from the surrounding area have come to the spring for thousands of years. In the 19th century, grist and flour mills were built at the spring but none were as successfull as the mill owned by Peter Bennett. Bennett was known for his generous donations of hundreds of bushels of grain and flour to the needy families during the Civil War. Following the war, the spring valley was transformed into a popular camping ground for area farmers who waited their turn at the mill. Fire destroyed the last mill in 1944. In 1924, the state acquired Bennett Spring and the surrounding land to become one of Missouri's first state parks. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Projects Administration built barracks for themsleves, then built a new dam, a bridge, a dining lodge, six cabins, a store, post-office building, shelters, houses, roads, and trails. They also renovated Atchley Mill as well as built a second set of gravel bottomed hatchery rearing pools. In 1935, they built a new section onto the hatchery building. In 1969, the Nature Interpretive Center opened at the park with George Kastler as the first naturalist. Today, trout fishing is flourishing. The trout are fed and cared for at the hatchery in the park until they are large enough to be released. In addition to fishing, there is more than three-thousand acres for camping, swimming, hiking, and nature.
Suggestions only! Check Weavers's for hot patterns
Enjoy a good meal in the rustic setting of the circa 1930 dining lodge. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to one hour past the whistle during trout season for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and dinner buffets are offered Saturday and Sunday mornings and Friday nights.
Lodging is available in a motel room, duplex cabin, individual cabin or a remodeled four-plex unit.. For more information about these lodging options, current rates or reservations, please call the concessionaire at 417-532-4307 or visit their website. The lodging mailing address is 26248 Hwy. 64A, Lebanon, MO 65536.
On a hot summer day, cool off in the park's swimming pool. It is open to the public from the Sunday before Memorial Day to mid-August, weather depending. A fee is charged. For more details, visit the concessionaire's website.