The Mississippi River Is So Low That You Can Now Walk To This Unique Rock Formation

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Tower Rock in Missouri along the Mississippi RiverPhoto credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

It isn’t every day that you can walk to an island, but that is exactly what’s possible now in the middle of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis.

Normally, visitors need a boat to reach the appropriately named Tower Rock. Now, however, due to the ongoing drought, the Mississippi River’s water levels are at a near-record low.

Tower Rock can be reached on foot when the water level is below 1.5 feet at the Chester, Illinois, river gauge, the Missouri Department of Conservation explains. The water is now only a few inches deep, according to that gauge.

“The river has dropped low enough that you can walk over to Tower Rock and not get your feet wet or muddy,” Missouri resident Jeff Miget said, according to CNN. “I only remember being able to do this one other time in my life.”

You can see his photo of people walking to Tower Rock here.

Elainna Froemsdorf said that since the river’s water level drops this low so rarely, she took the opportunity to show Tower Rock to her grandchildren.

“They’re the third generation (to walk to Tower Rock),” Froemsdorf said, according to KFVS. “I’ve walked across and gone around Tower Rock, my daughter got to cross and go around Tower Rock, and now my grandchildren have gotten to walk across and go around Rower Rock.”

Her granddaughter Adilyn added, “I haven’t done anything like that before and it was kind of challenging, but it was fun.”

What You Need To Know About Tower Rock

The island known as Tower Rock is part of a 32-acre area known as the aptly named Tower Rock Natural Area.

Most of the natural area is a forested section on the Missouri bank of the Mississippi River.

Tower Rock itself is what’s known as an erosional remnant. Made of limestone, it was formed some 400 million years ago, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Then, as softer surrounding rock eventually eroded over time, Tower Rock, which usually stands about 60 feet above the river, was left as an island.

Interestingly, toward the end of the Civil War, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed clearing the area in this section of the river to make river navigation easier. However, after receiving a recommendation from the Secretary of the Interior to protect the area, President Ulysses S. Grant signed an executive order on March 4, 1871, to spare Tower Rock from destruction.

Know Before You Go

If you’re interested in visiting Tower Rock, it appears the island will be reachable on foot for several weeks. That’s because forecasts call for the drought to worsen, according to CNN.

Tower Rock is located near Wittenberg, Missouri, and is across the river from Grand Tower, Illinois. It’s also about 30 miles from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and just over 70 miles from Carbondale, Illinois.

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