The gulf is a true chasm – deeper than it is wide – and nicknamed the “Little Grand Canyon." In 1986, the site was designated as a natural area to recognize and protect its natural beauty.
Visitors can view the gulf from the park’s 0.1-mile Interpretive Loop Trail. Four overlooks offer views of the collapsed cave system that formed the gulf and the remaining cave in the Grand Gulf sink. Unusual rock formations and geological features are visible while hiking along the trail. Interpretive panels located at the parking lot kiosk and along the trail explain the formation of the gulf and point out various geological features.
The trail's 62 steps allow visitors to view the bottom of the gulf and a wet-weather waterfall. A platform provides a place to stop and take in the beautiful views. While hiking down the steps, visitors can see the bluff and view the different layers of chert and dolomite, interspersed with sprays of vegetation. Numerous stopping areas are available for taking in the views, as well as resting before departing the trail.
The surface of the trail is crushed rock with steps and steep slopes. Visitors should wear a comfortable pair of shoes or hiking boots. In addition to the Interpretive Loop Trail, the Natural Bridge Trail takes hikers over the natural bridge and offers a glimpse of the spectacular Grand Gulf. Volunteers are always welcome to help maintain the trail, and interested parties should contact park staff for details. For more information on Grand Gulf State Park, visit Missouri State Parks' website.