Points of Interest:
- Explore ten miles of high-quality Ozark creeks that course sinuously through narrow, steep-sided valleys.
- Enjoy a wonderful diversity of forest ferns and wildflowers.
- See numerous sandstone and dolomite cliffs ranging from shallow overhangs to 60 feet tall bluffs.
Natural Features Description: This natural area protects a deeply entrenched stream system with a rich fish fauna and a wide variety of cliffs. Many of the cliffs here are shaded and or are seasonally wet with seeps. Because of this microhabitat, there are 24 species of ferns noted from the natural area. Eight different natural community types occur here, including Ozark creeks, dry-mesic bottomland forest, moist dolomite cliffs, Ozark fens, moist sandstone cliffs, a shrub swamp, a marsh, and a chert cliff. These varied conditions support over eight rare or uncommon plant species. Typical fishes of the lower reaches of Crooked and Spring Creeks within the natural area include Ozark bass, blackspotted topminnow, creek chubsucker, and striped fantail darter.
This natural area is within the Mark Twain National Forest. The natural area is composed of three separate units. To reach the main unit from Willow Springs, travel west on Highway 76 about 7 miles and turn left (southwest) on to Highway AP. Head south along AP for about 4.5 miles and then turn left (east) on Forest Service Road 108 (gravel). Forest Service Road 108 forms the southern boundary of the main unit of the natural area for 2.5 miles. There are numerous opportunities to pull off the road and explore the natural area to the north. There are also a number of other ways of accessing the different units of Carman Springs Natural Area. A map and compass are recommended to explore the area. Hunting and fishing are permitted.