Getting To Know Boone County

Boone County is located in central Missouri. It is bordered on the east by Callaway and Audrain Counties, the northwest by Randolph, and Howard Counties, and the southwest by the Missouri River.

Katy Trail State Park

Katy Trail State Park

Mizzou Columns

University of Missouri - Jesse Hall and Columns

Missouri River

Missouri River

People and Places

Boone County has a population of 162,642 (2010 US census). Of that, 43,335, or 26% of the population lives in the unincorporated areas of the county. The largest city is Columbia, with a population over 108,500. Columbia is the second fastest growing community in Missouri. The City’s current land mass is over 60 square miles, with an annexation rate of 0.6 sq miles per year.

Columbia is the home of the University of Missouri, with 34,748 students, as well as Stephens College (1,750 students) and Columbia College (1,082 daytime students only). Other towns, municipalities and villages in Boone County include Centralia (4,041), Ashland (3,721), Hallsville (1,497), Sturgeon (876) Rocheport (238), Harrisburg (267), Hartsburg (103) and Pierpont (64).

Boone Hospital

Boone Hospital Center

Shelter Gardens

Shelter Gardens

According to the 2007 US Agriculture Census, there are over 1,300 farms in Boone County with an average size of 196 acres. The total land used for farming is almost 259,000 acres. Boone County is ranked third in the state for horse and pony sales and production. Crops include soybeans, hay and forage crops such as corn, wheat and sorghum. Other agriculture includes nursery, and greenhouse products and sod. Local farmer’s markets help maintain the production of vegetables, melons, and potatoes. Healthcare, Higher Education and the Insurance industry are major employers in the region.

Geography and Geology

The county has a land area of 442,259 acres, or about 691 square miles. It is about 41 miles long at the longest spot, and about 22 miles wide. The Topography of Boone County ranges from highly dissected hills to flat flood plains and nearly flat uplands. The area around Sturgeon and Centralia, in the north, averages around 900 ft mean sea level, while the lowest portion of the county is at the southern tip, at about 540 ft. Several areas of the county contain well-developed cave and sinkhole formations.

The soils of Boone County are included in parts of two Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA). The Central Claypan Area, which was mainly formed in the glacial till, covers the northeastern and east-central parts of the county. The Central Mississippi Valley Wooded Slopes is formed from the residuum and loess in the southwestern part of the county.


The average winter temperature is 29.6 degrees F. In summer, the average temperature is 74.7 degrees and the average daily maximum of 85.9 degrees. The highest recorded temperature of 116 degrees occurred on July 15, 1954.

The total annual precipitation is 38.94 inches. The heaviest recorded 1-day rainfall was 5.37 inches on August 12, 1993. Thunderstorms are common from May to August. The average seasonal snowfall is 22.4 inches.

The average relative humidity in mid-afternoon is about 60%. Humidity is higher at night, peaking at dawn with an average of 83%. It is sunny 66% of the time in summer and 49% of the time in winter. The growing season in Boone County is 192 days. The first frost is around October 19th, while the last frost is around April 10th. (Boone County Soil Survey, 2005)

Karst Features


There are numerous caves in Boone County. The most notable is the Devil’s Ice Box (above, right) in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. Other caves include Connor’s cave, Hunter’s cave, Tumblin cave, and Rocheport cave.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Devil's Icebox

Devil's Ice Box


There are 418 documented sinkholes in Boone County. The majority of these are located south of I-70, in two distinct areas, one is south of Rocheport, and the other is around Pierpont. The sinkholes are relatively stable, but do discharge to the cave system and groundwater, therefore extreme care should be taken when developing in these areas.

Water Resources

Missouri River

At 2,300 miles the Missouri River is the longest river in the United States. The river's catchment area consists of over 529,000 square miles - one-sixth of the country's land area. With an average depth of 35' the river has a median discharge rate of just under 59k cubic feet of water per second at its confluence with the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. The river forms the southwest border of Boone County.

Perche Creek

Running through Boone County from the extreme northwest corner to its confluence with the Missouri River in the southwest Perche Creek is a haven for recreational uses in the county.

Bonne Femme

French for "good woman" the Bonne Femme plays a critical role in the creation of the county's Karst features. Beginning in the east central portion of the county the Bonne Femme runs through the heart of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. The Bonne Femme, a historically vital stream, is the site of early rural industries such as grain mills, tanneries and breweries.

Bonne Femme

Bonne Femme

Hinkson Creak

Hinkson Creek

Hinkson Creek

Hinkson Creek is a dynamic stream system, with a drainage area of 90 sq. miles or 57,445 acres. The Hinkson Creek watershed runs from the city of Hallsville in north central Boone County to the town of McBaine in west central part of the county. This creek runs southwest through agriculture and pasture land, previous mining land, and urban land. At 32 miles in length the Hinkson runs through the heart of Columbia. Ongoing efforts are being made to remove 11 miles of the Hinkson from the Environmental Protection Agency's list of impaired streams (303).

Data Source

  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Decennial Census of the United States
  • U. S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1981
  • Land Resource Regions and Major Land Resource Areas of the United States
  • Agriculture Handbook 296.U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C.
  • Palmer, Arthur N., 2007. Cave Geology. Cave Books, Dayton, OH. ISBN-13:978-0-939748-66-2