Inconveniently located in neither Wilson’s Creek, Mo., nor Battlefield, Mo., this national park is still more than worthy of a visit. About 15 miles southwest of Springfield, the park is a natural and historical breath of fresh air on a visit to one of the stalest, ugliest cities in the nation, perhaps the world.
Fought on August 10, 1861, Wilson’s Creek was the second major skirmish of the Civil War and the first major battle fought west of the Mississippi River. A bloody mess, the battle was considered a Southern victory, in large part because of the death on the field of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in action.
You can easily spend a morning or afternoon here, strolling through the museum with more than 5,000 artifacts and a nice visual recreation, then driving the eight-stop self-guided auto tour.
Other than the Gateway Arch, Wilson’s Creek is the closest destination for St. Louisans who want to celebrate the centennial of the National Park System.