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Shawnee Creek Herd

Shawnee Creek has a long history dating back to the 19th century.

According to research from the University of Missouri, Shawnee Creek was named after an Indian tribe invited into Missouri in the early days to protect the settlers from war-like Osages.

Shawnee is an Indian word for the tribe and means “Southerners.”

The Shawnee tribe were wanderers and were first known in the Cumberland basin in Tennessee.

Little Shawnee Creek flows northwest to the Jack’s Fork River, and it runs right through the fields where the horses are frequently seen next to Shawnee Creek Campground, which is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

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

Shawnee Creek Wild Horses Map by Tim Layton - © Tim Layton & Associates, LLC 2000-2023 All Rights Reserved
Map of Shawnee Creek Main Field Area | © Tim Layton & Associates, LLC 2000-2023 All Rights Reserved

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.

Shawnee Creek Wild Horses by Tim Layton | © Tim Layton


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

The Shawnee Creek Herd historically has been the easiest to find, but that has changed over the last few months. In the fall of 2022, a mare from the Broadfoot herd showed up at the Shawnee Creek main fields with her foal and caused the main herd to get very grumpy. They stayed in separate areas for a while, but the main herd eventually left, and most roamed in and around the Two Rivers area.

The new mare and foal and the two oldest mares from the main Shawnee Creek herd have been the only horses in. the main fields for the last couple of months. The current pattern is the two old mares, which I affectionally call “the two old ladies,” and the visiting Broadfoot mare and foal frequent this area now. I recently saw the main herd back at this main field for a day, but then they disappeared again.

Difficulty Rating: Easy

Frequency: High, but there can be spells when they can’t be found.

Tips: Great location for first-time visitors, kids, and the elderly. Because this is an easy-access location, some people try and pet the wild horses, which is very dangerous and also against the law. You have no idea what a 1500 lb. wild animal may or may not do.

Directions: Located off Highway 106 and County Road 106-211. From Eminence on Highway 19, go east on Highway 106 for 2.9 miles until you see a sign for Shawnee Creek Campground. You will turn left at the gravel road (106-211) and follow for 1.7 miles until you see the campground and the river. No special vehicle is required to access this location.

The best way to stay up to date on everything happening with our wild horses is to be part of the Wild Horses of Missouri Facebook Group, where I post my latest photos, videos, tips, and news.

Wild Horses of Missouri Map by Tim Layton -

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

Newest 2023 Photographs

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

Additional Tips & Helpful Information

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

Many fields near the campground border the Jack’s Fork river, where the horses frequently graze, so your chances of seeing them are pretty good, especially in the early morning and late evenings.

This location is a good choice for older people and kids too. It is pretty flat and easily accessible. The grasses can be very high in the summertime, so I suggest wearing pants and a long-sleeve shirt to minimize the chigger bites. Be prepared to get ticks and chiggers if you are in tall grass.

Depending on the day and time, you should expect to do a fair amount of walking. You may want to take advantage of a few first-come-first-served camping spots along with public restroom facilities (no running water). If the river is high at this location it can flood, especially during the spring and fall seasons. Be very careful around the river.

There are a few parking spots right at the opening to the fields where you can park and start your walk.

You cannot drive in any field with any motorized vehicle, only on foot. If you are caught on your ATV or any motorized vehicle, the National Park Service could arrest you, and they will most certainly write you a very expensive ticket. I have seen people arrested and receiving tickets because they ignore the signs that are posted.

If you don’t see the horses in the field, walk down to the left towards the river and follow that along to the woods. You will have to explore this area along the river bank as well as the interior of the woods at times to find the horses.

I’ve seen the horses cross the river and the creeks in the mornings and evenings, which is a lot of fun to watch. You can also hike the perimeter of the fields along the woods if you don’t see them and I frequently find them in the woods.

Depending on the day’s conditions, this can be easy and enjoyable, or it can be pretty difficult because of heat and humidity, mud, standing water, flies/insects, etc.

PLAN B If you don’t find the horses

If you don’t see the Shawnee Creek Herd at this location, go back 106-211 to Highway 106 and turn left (east).

Turn left on Highway V towards Two Rivers campground, and approximately 2.2 miles on the left; there are some vegetation fields where the Shawnee Creek herd is frequently seen.

They travel in the woods between these fields on Highway V to Shawnee Creek Campground. I’ve hiked through the woods between the locations and found the horses, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you know the area and understand the terrain and conditions. You have to wade across the water and unless you are an experienced hiker, I would not recommend this to the average person.

There are no clearly defined parking places at the V highway (Two Rivers) fields, but you will see where people pull off to the side of the road and park. Once again, be prepared to do a lot of walking. I’ve walked as much as 5 miles or more in a single visit to find and follow the horses at these locations.

Sometimes they are in the middle of the fields, and very little walking is required, and other times, you have to be patient and wait for them or do a lot of walking along the river or in the woods to find them.

I always wear boots, and you should expect a decent workout. Ensure you have water and snacks to help extend your time in the field with the horses.

I want to make sure you are prepared to have a good experience and understand the range of possibilities. Just because you don’t see them in the middle of a field doesn’t mean they are not in the area. There are times when you need to do more walking, and also, you can increase your chances by going first thing in the morning or the late evenings before sunset.

The best way to stay up to date with the Shawnee 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.

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.

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.

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