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Rocky Creek Herd

Rocky Creek Herd - Wild Horses of Missouri by Tim Layton | © Tim Layton | timlaytonfineart.com

Rocky Creek is a stream that rises in Buckeye Township and flows northeast to the Current River in Bowlan Township. According to research by the University of Missouri, the creek got its name from the descriptive nature of the stream bed. I have hiked through and driven across Rocky Creek many times, verifying that the name is accurate!

Learn why awareness is a key strategy in helping protect wild horses and why I became a wild horse conservation photographer.

The Rocky Creek herd is the most elusive and difficult to find. We can go months at a time or even longer between finding them. Their natural habitat remains very wild and rugged, even in modern times. It is like time stands still in this area.

The best way to stay up to date with the Rocky Creek herd is to be part of the Wild Horses of Missouri Facebook Group, where I post my latest photos, videos, and tips on the horses.

I had to search for two years to find them for the first time, and I live within 15 to 30 minutes of areas they have been known to frequent. They are elusive and very wild. These horses are highly sensitive to anyone or anything in their environment.

The terrain is rugged and unforgiving.

The members of each herd change over time because of several factors. Lead stallions are known for visiting other herds and bands to steal mares. Yes, that is correct; the stallions swoop in and steal mares from other herds. Also, because of the monitoring and management of the herd per the law, sometimes members are gathered to keep the size of the herds within the bounds of the legal agreement.

If you would like to know about simple ways that you can help me ensure our horses remain free, take action today and make a difference.

Rocky Creek Herd - Wild Horses of Missouri by Tim Layton | © Tim Layton | timlaytonfineart.com

INFORMATION & DIRECTIONS

All images and text on timlaytonfineart.com are the © of Timothy P. Layton and Tim Layton & Associates, LLC 2000-2023. Please review the copyright notice.

The Rocky Creek Herd is the most difficult to find, and your chances of seeing them are pretty low unless you are a local that visits very frequently.
Difficulty Rating: Very Difficult

Frequency: Low

Tips: Need 4WD and Lots of Patience

Directions: Located near Klepzig Mill off Highway NN and Highway H. From Eminence, take Highway 106 east to Highway H and go south to H-522 on your left. You will need a lifted 4WD vehicle for most of this route. I don’t recommend this route unless you know what you are doing because you have to pass several creeks that can be dangerous, and some of the terrains can damage your vehicle. There is zero mobile phone coverage in this area, and it is very remote and isolated. If you get stuck, injured, or lost, there will likely be no one around to help you, so keep that in mind. This is a remote area, and I have seen many poisonous snakes during my hunting for wild horses, especially in the summer. Avoid walking or sitting on trees/logs and picking up rocks.

The best way to stay up to date with the Rocky Creek herd is to be part of the Wild Horses of Missouri Facebook Group, where I post my latest photos, videos, and tips on the horses.

Rocky Creek Wild Horses Map by Tim Layton - © Tim Layton & Associates, LLC 2000-2023 All Rights Reserved

All images and text on timlaytonfineart.com are the © of Timothy P. Layton and Tim Layton & Associates, LLC 2000-2023. Please review the copyright notice.

If you would like to know about simple ways that you can help me ensure our horses remain free, take action today and make a difference.

Rocky Creek Herd - Wild Horses of Missouri by Tim Layton | © Tim Layton | timlaytonfineart.com

Additional Tips & Helpful Information

02/10/2023 Rocky Creek Herd by Tim Layton | © Tim Layton & Associates, LLC All Rights Reserved 2000-2023

There are several vegetation fields along this route where the horses have been seen before. I want to make sure you understand that it is highly unlikely that you will see this herd, and the risk of either injury or damage to your vehicle is the highest of all the locations.

If you get stuck or injured out here, there isn’t a lot of traffic to help. I have a satellite SOS device that I keep with me when I go here, and I am fully prepared in the event of injury.

If you are brave enough and can make your way via this route, you will end up at Klepzig Mill (four creek crossings later) and dump out at Highway NN, which will take you to Highway H. If you go left, you will go to Winona. If you go right, you will go towards Highway 106 and Eminence.

From Winona, take High H off Highway 19 to the signs for Rocky Falls (Highway NN). Follow NN past Rocky Falls and turn left on the gravel road towards Kelpzig Mill. This route can be partially accessible to regular trucks and 4WD vehicles until you pass the mill and get to the first creek, which is very deep and swift. During the 1.1-mile drive from the turn, until you reach Klepzig Mill on your right, you will see some vegetation fields on your right. The horses are sometimes seen in these fields and even on the gravel road too.

The horses could be seen just about anywhere in this region, and since a lot of the terrain is so rugged and difficult to navigate, I don’t recommend this for first-time visitors unless you are with an experienced guide. There are much easier and safer locations listed above that will provide a much stronger chance of seeing wild horses.

The best way to stay up to date with the Rocky Creek herd is to be part of the Wild Horses of Missouri Facebook Group, where I post my latest photos, videos, and tips on the horses.

All images and text on timlaytonfineart.com are the © of Timothy P. Layton and Tim Layton & Associates, LLC 2000-2023. Please review the copyright notice.

Wild Horses of Missouri History

Shannon County, Missouri, is home to a beautiful herd of wild horses in Southeast Missouri in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways on public land about 130 miles from Springfield and 150 miles from St. Louis.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways is the first national park area to protect a river system and the only state where wild horses still roam free. It hasn’t been an easy path for the wild horses over the last 100 years, and it would be foolish to think current conditions couldn’t change and put them back in danger again.

During the 1980s, the National Park Service announced a plan to remove Shannon Counties’ wild horses, and people were outraged.

In 1993 the U.S. Supreme Court denied a final appeal to protect the horses and gave the National Park Service the right to remove the horses from federal land. The national park service started removing the wild horses in a profoundly upsetting way to residents and horse lovers around the country. The people of Shannon County and horse lovers around the country rallied together, and the Wild Horse League of Missouri was formed.

Luckily, by 1996 the Wild Horse League of Missouri, which was formed in 1992 to save the wild horses, received help from the people of Shannon County, congressman Bill Emerson, Senators Kit Bond, and John Ashcroft.

Their tireless efforts paid off, and President Clinton signed a bill into law on October 3, 1996, to make the wild horses of Shannon County a permanent part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, with conditions. You can read more about the law.

Reading and understanding the law referenced above is essential because these wild horses’ freedom relies on compliance with the law. The National Park Service or anyone could claim the horses are causing harm or being a nuisance, and the removal process could start again.

People worldwide visit Shannon County hoping to see these majestic wild horses; their long-term protection and survival depend on people and public policy.

Per the Ozark Wild Horse Protection Act, the Missouri Wild Horse League works with the National Park Service to capture some horses when the herd exceeds 50. The captured horses are taken into care and evaluated before being adopted by loving families for permanent homes.

Learn more about how you can help protect Missouri’s wild horses and become part of a positive legacy that is focused on trying to make the world a better place today and for future generations.

Rocky Creek Herd - Wild Horses of Missouri by Tim Layton | © Tim Layton | timlaytonfineart.com

All images and text on timlaytonfineart.com are the © of Timothy P. Layton and Tim Layton & Associates, LLC 2000-2023. Please review the copyright notice.

If you would like to know about simple ways that you can help me ensure our horses remain free, take action today and make a difference.