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Living Life to the Fullest In Southwest Missouri

Grand Falls

Grand Falls

Grand Falls is a must-see for anyone visiting – or living in – Joplin.

This natural formation is beautiful, so be sure to bring your camera. Bring your family, too, because Grand Falls makes an outstanding background in photos.

But Grand Falls isn’t just a pretty place to visit.

It’s also the largest continuously running waterfall in Missouri.


falls autumn


That’s, right! The water in Shoal Creek plunges 12 feet to a rock ledge.

What? Only 12 feet? Clearly you won’t need to crane your neck to see the top of the falls, but you are guaranteed a chance to see it flowing every time you visit because, well, that’s how a continuously flowing waterfall works.

Above the falls there’s a man-made dam. This was installed to form a reservoir that supplies water to Joplin residents.

The natural falls are created by a ledge of solid chert rock that measures 163 feet across, creating a Little Niagra Falls right here in our backyard.

There are outcroppings of chert next to the falls that fill with water and create pools that kids of all ages can splash in,


falls pool splash


and explore to discover frogs and other types of life in the water.


falls kids on chert



Grand Falls is accessible from Riverside Drive, and there’s a small gravel lot where you can park your car. You can admire the falls from there, or you can walk the path from the parking lot down to the creek.

As you can see from all of the rock in the photos, the terrain is uneven, so be sure to wear appropriate shoes. If you plan on playing in the water (especially in the pools of water in between the rocks), I’d recommend a pair of rubber aqua socks because the rocks can be slippery.


Falls kids on rocks


Or maybe you just want to find a dry rock to sit on so you can rest while listening to the peaceful flowing water. Visit the falls at sunrise and treat yourself to the sight of early morning mist drifting off the creek while you sip some coffee.

falls mist



After visiting the falls (which is on the east side of the creek) our family usually stops at Inspiration Point and McClelland Park (which are both on the bluff on the west side of the creek).

Inspiration Point is located near the intersection of Glendale Road and McClelland Park Boulevard. There’s a gravel overlook area where you can pull over and enjoy a breathtaking view of Shoal Creek.


falls inspiration


Next to Inspiration Point is McClelland Park. This park is situated on top of a hill, making it a prime spot for kite-flying in the spring. There are several areas with playground equipment, plus a disc golf course that’s located in the south part of the park.

The many mature trees at McClelland make it a perfect place for a picnic, and there are several tables located throughout the park.

Here’s a table near the bluff that overlooks Grand Falls to the east. We visited the park on that spectacular fall day take photos to use in our holiday card.


falls picnic

 No, we didn’t use this for our holiday photo and, no, she did not push her sister off the table (surprisingly).


So take a few minutes out of your day to stop at picturesque Grand Falls, where you can enjoy the unique natural surroundings and recharge your batteries.

If you have more time, swing by Inspiration Point, then have a picnic under the trees at McClelland Park.

butterfly pic


Grand Falls is located at 5400 Riverside Drive, and McClelland Park is located at Maiden Lane and Shoal Creek (click here for its website and map).

Directions to Grand Falls: Off I-44, exit 6; south on Route 86 (Hearnes Blvd./South Main Street) two blocks; at the roundabout go west (right) on Glendale Road 1.5 miles; south (left) on Jackson across the low-water bridge; west (right) on Riverside Drive two miles; and Grand Falls is on the right.

WANT MORE? Get the latest information on by what to see and do in the area by following Joplin MO Life on TwitterPinterest and on Facebook (be sure to both “like” AND “follow” on Facebook in order to see the posts in your feed). Or, sign up for the newsletter at the top part of this post.


Photos by Travis Smith; family photo by Lloyd Smith.

This article was commissioned by the Joplin CVB, however the opinions expressed are purely my own. The purpose of Joplin MO Life is to highlight all the best that our area has to offer, and when an article is written about a restaurant, business, attraction, or event, it is because I have had an enjoyable experience and want to share it with others.

Click here to visit the Joplin CVB’s Facebook page.


Living Life to The Fullest!

Joplin MO LifeI love seeking out new experiences and finding places off the beaten path. I started Joplin MO Life in August 2013 as a way to share my discoveries with others in the Joplin community so that they can learn about the resources that exist right in their own backyards.

I have worked in education and event planning, and have always loved to write. I hold a master's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor's degree in marketing from Tulane University.


  1. Hello there! My husband and I are coming to Joplin and we really want to visit the falls. Is there a hotel nearby that you would recommend?
    Blessings! Janell Rardon

  2. Dear Team,
    I am Shan and I am an amateur Professional photographer usually takes pictures of nature, falls. Am interested in volunteering too which brings me happiness. I have had a chance of visiting Joplin Grand falls last Sunday 4/17/ was an awesome waterfall.
    Have taken few waterfall shots. Please lemme know if my photos useful for tourists visitors so that they may aware of the attractions.
    Pls feel free to message me for sharing photos which is free of cost cos volunteering makes me happy..

    • Hi, Shan! I’d love to see your photos, and I’m sure other people would, too. Feel free to post them here in the comments section.

  3. Is fishing allowed in this area?

    • Yes, it is.

  4. are there cabins to rent in the area?

  5. Can u camp near the falls

  6. I would like to take a ride with my women’s motorcycle riding group to visit Grand Falls. Is adequate parking available at the site (i.e., no gravel, off the main road, etc.)? Thank you.

    • I wish I could say yes, but parking at Grand Falls is not ideal. There’s a small unpaved area where you could park if it’s not crowded; we park on the street when we visit.


  1. Freedom | shadowrun300 - […] if this weren’t enough, we rode down to the Grand Falls yesterday to take in the beautiful […]

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