Thanks to countless outdoor activities and places to explore, you will have a delightful time when you pack the tents and the sleeping bags and spread out beneath the stars. Camping in Missouri’s State Parks offers new and different experiences. (Reservations are highly recommended.) Camping ranges from basic tent areas to full hook-up RV sites. Most parks include restrooms, showers, firewood for purchase, laundry facilities, plus a dump station. Gates close at various times, so campers need to be in place prior to gate closure time. Check the park’s individual website for details, gate times and reservations.
Important Note: Missouri’s forests are threatened by the emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle that has killed millions of trees across North America. Do not take your own firewood and don’t transport firewood from one location to another. Buy your firewood at or near your camping destination.
Head to Bennett Spring State Park, 13 miles west of Lebanon, where you can spend the day fishing the cool waters of the spring-fed stream teeming with rainbow trout. Hike trails that range from leisurely to invigorating. Enjoy a picnic dinner at your campsite, or stop in the park’s lodge for a hearty supper . . . they’ll even cook your catch for you. The park has five campgrounds.
Stand in total awe of Mother Nature when you visit Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, 10 miles north of Lesterville. Explore the earth’s past as you hike a trail that passes through 1.4 billion years of geologic history. The park’s opportunities for fun in the water include wading, swimming and tubing in the Black River’s shut-ins. The park’s camping areas include special-use sites and equestrian facilities.
Canoeing on Big River, hiking, equestrian trails and picnicking are all featured at St. Francois State Park, 10 minutes north of Bonne Terre. Three hiking trails run through the tree-lined Coonville Creek Wild Area; horseback riders may use one of these trails. Reserve your spot at one of the park’s 110 tent and RV campsites and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.
Just 10 minutes outside the popular entertainment destination of Branson, Table Rock State Park caters to all outdoor interests. Like boating? The marina rents all types of lake-faring crafts. Enjoy the great workout of a mountain-bike ride? A beautiful, invigorating trail allows you to do just that. Other activities ranging from hiking to scuba diving round out the Table Rock experience. After a full day of adventure, rest under the starry sky in one of the park’s two large camping areas.
Take your binoculars and camera to Wakonda State Park, four miles outside La Grange. The park’s six lakes draw thousands of migratory water birds, making Wakonda a wonderful place to see all manner of beautiful creatures. Don’t forget your rod and reel; the fishing is good in the lakes as well. After a day of adventure, cool off at Missouri's largest natural sand beach. Settle down around your campfire for the night at one of two family friendly campgrounds, totaling more than 100 sites.
Cool waters and abundant wildlife make Big Lake State Park a nice place to get away in northwest Missouri. Visitors can canoe and ride personal watercraft on the Missouri’s largest oxbow lake; the wetland is used by migrating birds as a resting stop, affording bird watchers an unparalleled opportunity. The park, 10 miles west of Mound City, has 18 basic and 58 electric campsites.
Thousand Hills State Park, 15 minutes west of Kirksville, features two campgrounds. The park includes American Indian rock carvings (petroglyphs) more than 1,500 years old; they are listed on National Register of Historic Places. The park features Forrest Lake, with 17 miles of shoreline; a beach; a marina; boat/kayak/canoe rentals; a boat ramp; fishing; hiking; mountain biking; and backpacking trails.
These state parks should give you some ideas, but there are lots more camping facilities throughout Missouri, in parks and privately owned facilities. In fact, there are more than 210 listed on VisitMO.com. Click this link to find them: Campgrounds/RV Parks.
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