Photos show what Tower Rock looks like, a limestone formation in the middle of the Mississippi River, before and after a severe drought lowered the water level

  • Tower Rock, a limestone formation in the middle of the Mississippi River, is recently accessible on foot.

  • The destination is now popular with tourists, the Missouri Department of Conservation said.

  • The Mississippi River is experiencing historic lows, likely due to climate change.

Tower Rock, a 400-million-year-old limestone formation usually surrounded by the waters of the Mississippi River, is now becoming a popular tourist destination, thanks to the river’s historic low levels.

Located in Perry County, Missouri, Tower Rock is usually only accessible by boat, but it has now become a haven for tourists who want to walk up and take a closer look.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the rock, which protrudes 60 feet above normal water levels, is only accessible on foot when water levels are below 1.5 feet at the Mississippi River Chester Gauge, located near a section of the river between Illinois and Missouri.

However, the outcrop may soon become inaccessible again. MDC officials expect a 3.5-foot hike on the Chester silhouette as early as this weekend.

“The dry weather this season has created conditions that have attracted numerous visitors to the area in recent weeks,” MDC Southeast Regional Administrator Matt Bowyer said in a press release.

Bowyer also warned that visitors shouldn’t climb Tower Rock and that observers should remain cautious as they walk on the dry river bed.

“The Mississippi River is still a very dangerous body of water, even in low-temperature conditions,” he said. “Please use caution. And as always, pack your bags. Don’t leave rubbish behind.”

Tower Rock was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

A view of Tower Rock when the water levels are higherMissouri Department of Conservation

Despite the Mississippi River’s summer floods, the Midwest is now in a period of abnormal to moderate drought. The region, including the Ohio River and upper Mississippi River valleys, has not received enough rain to sustain normal water levels, Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen and Paola Rosa-Aquino reported.

These varying river conditions are consistent with scientists’ predictions of climate change creating more unpredictable weather events.

Tower Rock has become accessible on foot a handful of times over the past decade.

As drought conditions in the Midwest are more typical in recent years, being able to walk to Tower Rock may become more common.

“This is the new normal,” Olivia Dorothy, director of American Rivers, told local KSDK station. “Climate models have predicted that this region will become prone to very long and dramatic droughts that will be punctuated by extreme fluctuations and floods.”

The Missouri Department of Conservation did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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