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PERRY COUNTY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation is reminding people traveling to Perry County to see and visit Tower Rock to be mindful of both the natural landmark and neighboring land.

The 32-acre area has recently become a hotbed of tourism over the past few weeks as drought conditions have lowered the Mississippi River levels, allowing people to reach the 400-million-year-old limestone outcropping by foot.

According to the MDC, the rock formation is accessible to foot traffic when the Mississippi River’s “Chester gauge” is less than 1.5 feet. The tower stands about 60 feet above normal river levels.

Matt Bowyer, the department’s southeast regional administrator, says parking is limited.

“If you are parking along the county road to access the area, please remember to not further restrict access to other visitors or neighboring landowners,” he said.

The MDC is asking visitors not to block the county road when parking and be aware that the nearby railroad tracks are active.

Tower Rock when the Mississippi River is at normal river levels. (Courtesy: Missouri Department of Conservation)

And while the slope and formation of Tower Rock may look inviting, Bowyer is advising people against climbing the tower. The MDC is also reminding people not to disturb any plants on the outcropping, and to always be wary of the Mississippi River.

“The Mississippi River is still a very dangerous (body of water), even during low conditions,” Bowyer said. “Please use caution. And as always, pack out what you pack in. Do not leave litter behind.”

Former President Ulysses S. Grant and Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano are credited with saving Tower Rock from blasting. Following the American Civil War, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended clearing obstacles from the Mississippi River to aid the flow of goods and services along the river. Delano recommended Tower Rock be exempted, and Grant signed an executive order on March 4, 1871, sparing the landmark from destruction.

People can report vandalism or other suspicious activity at Tower Rock by contacting MDC Cpl. Christopher Doran at 573-517-9056.