Twenty-five thousand years ago the Mississippi River meandered across the southeast corner of Missouri. Seven thousand years later the river had shifted 50 miles east leaving behind a fertile swamp where cypress and tupelo trees grew into vast forests. The T.J. Moss Tie Company started cutting the forests in the late 1880s. and by 1935 most of the trees were gone. In an attempt to create farmland from the now barren swamps, drainage canals were constructed. The swamp of the refuge was hard to subdue and remained opened to indiscriminate logging and hunting, and as a pasture for free range cattle and pigs,
The Fish and Wildlife Service bought 21,676 acres of Mingo Swamp in 1945 and set about repairing the damage. Most of the native plants and animals have been restored. Today the swamp is home to over 38 species of mammals, 23 species of amphibians, 37 species of reptiles and supports over 250 species of birds.
The refuge has a visitor center with good exhibits and an eight minute video. A short trail leads to an overlook. Another trail goes to the 1 mile Swampwalk Nature Trail. The refuge roads can be walked and some are open for auto touring.
The visitor center and the overlook trail are accessible. The trail from the visitor center to the Swampwalk Trail is not accessible. The Swampwalk Trail is part boardwalk, part asphalt and is accessible but steep where the boardwalk meets the asphalt and one end has wooden cleating. We did not walk/roll on any of the refuge roads but I think they may be too rough for comfort.
The visitor center parking lot is large enough for RVs. The Swampwalk Trail is small but RVs will fit if it’s not busy. The refuge roads are gravel, in good condition, and passable by any RV. Refuge 36.9693, -90.15022