The St. Francois Mountains of the Ozarks are full of geological wonders. Most know of the smooth shut-ins of the Black River or the house-size red boulders of Elephant Rocks State Park. But the Hughes Mountain Natural Area brings a site overlooked by tourists—the Devil’s Honeycomb.
The trail to the honeycombs can be a bit daunting, but the rewards are well worth it. In addition to sweeping views of Washington county, 1.5 billion-year-old Precambrian rock outcrops multiple at the mountain peak. These are some of the oldest exposed rocks in the United States. Volcanoes once liquified rocks in the area helping form the multi-sided rock columns. The rhyolite formations, known locally as the Devil’s Honeycomb, are one of Missouri’s geologic wonders. They are deep red in color and covered in sea-green lichens.
In the spring and summer, wildflowers fill in the cracks of the honeycomb. Rain pools in between the rhyolite, creating little bird baths. Lizards soak up the sun upon the rocks. Even prickly pear cactus grows in the heat of the honeycomb.