Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area


The shooting range is closed each Monday and Friday from 9AM -10AM for maintenance.
The main road drainage culverts have been damaged by heavy rainfall in the spring of 2015. During and immediately after large rain events the road may be closed temporarily until waters recede and the culverts can be inspected. When closed there will be a cable placed across the entrance. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. The culverts should be replaced in December of 2016.

Driving Directions

From Columbia, take Highway 63 north 7 miles, then Peabody Road east 1 mile to the area.


This area is forest mixed with old fields, grassland, and savanna. Facilities/features:  20 fishable lakes and ponds (300 acres total). Rocky Fork Lake (52 acres) has a concrete boat ramp.

About This Area

The Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area is located in Boone County approximately six miles north of Columbia on Highway 63 and one-half mile east on Peabody road.

Because the area is located near a population center of 100,000+ people, its 2,200 acres are heavily used by many persons for every type of outdoor activity which is suitable to the area.

The terrain is extremely rugged due to strip mining, which occurred prior to acquisition by the Department. The mined area has broad ridge tops and generally steep slopes. Approximately 1,150 acres were strip mined with the balance of the acreage being oak-hickory forest cover and upland fields. One field of 25 acres is mainly bluestem prairie. Approximately 70 percent of the strip mined area has been planted with a mixture of trees and shrubs. The remaining areas were seeded with fescue which developed into excellent ground cover on the seeded area, but is not very favorable for wildlife.

There are over 60 lakes or ponds of significant size, which have a total surface area of 116 acres. The largest lake is over 50 acres. In addition, there are over 30 smaller (less than one acre) pools, some of which hold water the entire year.

Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area was purchased by the Department in March, 1979 for a purchase price of $379,000. Prior to acquisition, the land was owned and mined by Peabody Coal Company, from 1963 until 1972. According to a 1917 edition of a topographical map (Sturgeon Quadrangle) there were 15 residences on the tract at that time.

Two very old cemeteries exist on the property and the names on the headstones reflect past local history. There are Browns' buried in one of the cemeteries that were connected with Brown's Station a few miles away. Some of the stones date back to the middle 1830s.

The area had been row cropped where possible, and where not possible, livestock were grazed. No evidence exists to show that the landowners excluded their timber from grazing. There is evidence that fires of moderate intensity occurred periodically throughout the timbered stands. What is more evident are stumps which remain as examples of the landowner's desire to salvage his timber in front of the steady onslaught of the great earth moving coal machine. A few pockets of larger trees escaped this fate.

A ramp has been installed for boating access to the large lake, and a fishing dock designed for wheelchair access is located on the big lakes north shore.

The areas firearms shooting range receives year-round use.

General Information




Owned by MDC

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  The diverse habitats of this area attract a wide variety of migratory and resident bird species. Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List.  
Field Trials with Special Use Permit  Special use permits are available from the Area Manager. 
Fishing - Bass Good population.  
Fishing - Catfish Good population.  
Fishing - Crappie Good population.  
Fishing - Sunfish Good population.  
Hiking  No designated trails.  
Hunting-Deer Good population.   Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Dove Fair population.  
Hunting-Quail Fair population.  
Hunting-Rabbit Good population.  
Hunting-Squirrel Fair population.  
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Waterfowl-Open Hunting Fair population. Diving ducks use Rocky Fork Lake during the migratory periods. 
Other  Shooting range includes 25, 50 and 100 yards distances; clay birds shooting area is also available. Clay birds shooting range is not ADA accessible.  The ranges are closed from 9AM - 10AM each Monday and Friday for routine maintenance.  
Trapping with Special Use Permit  Special Use Permit required; inquire of the Area Manager. 

Go to Top of Page

Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Boat Ramp - Lake - Concrete   Rocky Fork Lake  
Dock - Fishingaccessible   
OtheraccessibleShooting Range  Firearms shooting and trap range; shooting range is disabled-user accessible. 
Parking Lotaccessible  The parking lot at the shooting range and near the fishing dock are ADA accessible.  

Go to Top of Page

Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Fishing Lake or Pond Rocky Fork Lake 52.00 acres  
Fishing Lake or Pond  19 248.00 acres Pits/ponds range in size from 1/4 to 9 acres. 
Non-Stocked Pond  34 40.00 acres  

Go to Top of Page

Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Old Field 400.00  
Grassland (non-prairie) 400.00  
Savanna 200.00  
Forest and Woodland 800.00  
Lakes/Ponds 340.00  
Crop Land 60.00  
Total Area Acres:2199.61 

Go to Top of Page

Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
No Designated Trails

Go to Top of Page

Shooting Range General Information






1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset, unless posted otherwise.

Click Shooting Ranges for more information.

Go to Top of Page