Monday, 9 September 2013

Natural Water Park -- The Johnson Shut Ins

We had heard of an amazing natural water park in our area called the Johnson Shut Ins.  Since we were camping close by we decided to check it out.

When we lived here before, about 5 years ago, there was a huge flood in this area and it was destroyed.  There is a visitor center on site that explains the what happened and how the place has recovered.  However on this visit we did not go into it as the kids were too excited to get to the main attraction:).  This huge boulder was on top of the mountain and was carried 1 and half miles away to its current resting place with not a scratch on it during the flood.   
Kids and I are working on our geology unit so were pleased to discover some igneous rocks and learn the history of the area.  It is believed to be a result of a super volcano explosion that occurred 1.5 Billion years ago.

we read many interesting signs about how the area developed.  We learned that the type of rock in this area is called  rhyolite.

The gorge is mostly an rocky outcrop with a small river running through it opening up to a larger water area.  There are plenty of areas where the water level is low or deeper areas where you can jump off rocks into the water.

It was Daddy's responsibility to keep up with the children but it was soon apparent that the kids are part mountain goat and they left Daddy in the dust as they scrambled over the rocks and into the water

As I am a Helicopter parent I found the experience to be a bit unnerving to have the kids scrambling over and under rocks without more adult supervision.  Both my husband and I had a hard time keeping track of where the kids where and on more than one occasion "lost the kids" which was pretty scary for us.   It didn't help that we had just read about a drowning at this site a week or two ago.  Both kids can swim but MarioFan still isn't the strongest swimmer so it was important to keep a closer eye on him.

When we were finally able to catch the children for a few minutes we were able to point out the rocks and how volcano rocks erode, explaining the rock cycle.

We spent over 4 hours there swimming and climbing rocks on a very hot day.  The water felt fantastic and the kids thought it was the best water park ever:)

MarioFan loved climbing the rocks over and over again

the portion of the large pond where the river ends.  If we had brought our water goggles we would have been able to see fish in the water.    There is no direct way to the area except climbing over the rocks which is scary for adults (we have a higher center of gravity) and fun for kids.  Once you get down there tho it is wonderful.
We will definitely be heading there again next summer, despite my apprehensions, as it was an amazing place!  The park only lets in 100 cars a day so it doesn't become over crowded.


  1. I'm from Missouri and visited Johnson Shut Ins years ago--loved it! Once when we were back in MO (from the UK), I wanted to take the kids, but that was the year it flooded. I'm hoping to take them next time we're back. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That looks really cool! I've never seen anything like it before! Why is "Shut Ins" part of it's name? What was shut in? Were the people that owned the property shut ins or something?

    1. THose are good questions and if we had toured the visitor center I might be able to answer them:). I am guessing it had to do with the Dam further up river but I am just guessing. I will try to find out for you.

  3. Wow, how cool is that!! What a fantastic place!

  4. Wow, that place looks so gorgeous!! We have several natural springs here in Florida and the water is always crystal clear and very cold. It would be nice to climb all the rocks too.

  5. What an other fun adventure. I love these. isn't the earth just amazing. I love learning right a long with you all. However, I am sure I would have totally lost it if I thought I had lost one of my children. We have had a couple of experiences with this one and it is terrifying.