Need to get away from today's hectic pace and tune out the commotion? Go camping. Whether you just throw a sleeping bag on the ground, pitch a tent or have a well equipped RV, camping under the night sky is a great way to slow down.
And if you camp near a lake, well, there’s no end to the fun. Nearly every lake in Missouri has camping facilities, plus loads of water sports. (Although camping reservations are generally not required, they are recommended; also, not all are year-round operations.) As a bonus, sunsets, away from city lights, are spectacular.
Mark Twain Lake
Located about 40 minutes southwest of Hannibal, this 18,600-acre lake (managed by the Army Corps of Engineers) has great fishing, especially for crappie and bass. Throughout the year, many fishing tournaments are held on the lake. There are stocked ponds for those without boats. Activities include walking and equestrian trails. Visit Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site, in the town of Florida, Mo.
- Ray Behrens Campground, 15 minutes north of Perry, contains 160 campsites on the southeastern shore of Mark Twain Lake; all sites have electricity. Boat and slip rentals are available.
- Mark Twain State Park Campground, 15 minutes southeast of Stoutsville, offers basic and electric campsites, a special-use camping area and a group-camp area. Services available include showers, drinkable water (April-October) and a laundry. There is a dump station.
- Mark Twain Landing, 11 miles south of Monroe City, features full-hookup, back-in RV sites, plus wooded and lakeside tent sites. Facilities include cabins, condos, motel rooms, plus a full-service general store and a laundry. Adjacent to the landing, there is a waterpark and large swimming pool.
- Indian Creek Campground, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, is about 15 miles south of Monroe City. The area includes 190 campsites; 20 primitive hike-in campsites; showers; restrooms; playgrounds; a fish-cleaning station; a boat ramp; a beach; and hiking trails.
The lake is a gorgeous body of water with a picture-perfect Ozark Mountain backdrop. It is known for its largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, white bass and channel catfish. The surrounding 44,000- acres include equestrian and hiking trails, along with numerous developed and undeveloped (primitive) sites for camping.
Add breathtaking views to your excursion when you camp at Lake Wappapello State Park, 20 miles north of Poplar Bluff. The picnic shelters and campsites make it easy to have a relaxing vacation and a super fishing trip. The park offers basic and electric campsites, picnicking, fishing, a swimming beach and trails for hiking, backpacking, equestrian and mountain-biking.
Pomme de Terre Lake
Pomme de Terre is located about 50 miles north of Springfield. The 7,821 acre lake, with 113 miles of shoreline, is well known for its largemouth bass, crappie and white bass fishing. The lake is Missouri’s leading area for trophy-size Muskellunge, which have been stocked in the lake since 1966. There are more than 650 campsites at various locations, plus two public swimming beaches. Water skiing and many other forms of water recreation are common.
- Pomme de Terre State Park is divided into two sections of state park land near Pomme de Terre which total almost 700 acres (2.8 km2). One on the southern shore, four miles north of Pittsburg; the other section is 10 minutes southeast of Hermitage. Each area has 128 campsites, a public beach, picnic sites and hiking trails. The Indian Point hiking trail, in the Pittsburg area, ends at a rock platform with a magnificent view overlooking the lake.
- On the north shore, approximately 5 miles southwest of Hermitage, Harbor Campground and Marina offers overnight sites with water, electricity and sewer, tent sites and a shower-house. Boat slips and boat rentals are available at the full service marina. The facility includes a convenience store and a restaurant with live music most Friday and Saturday evenings through the summer.
Twenty miles north of Kansas City, Smithville Lake was made with the outdoor enthusiast in mind. The two campgrounds total more than 770 tent and RV campsites – first come first served. Facilities include: two swim beaches; shelters; two full service marinas with boat rentals; one sailboat-only marina; dockside restaurant; two 18-hole golf courses; great fishing from shore and by boat; 25 miles of walking/biking trails; 11 miles of single-track mountain biking trails; and 26 miles of equestrian trails.
Stockton Lake offers beautiful scenery with three hundred miles of unspoiled shoreline and 25,000 acres of clear water. This is one of the top 10 sailing lakes in the U.S. and possibly the best walleye fishing lake in the Midwest. For those of you that want to be one with nature, there are many campgrounds around the lake and in the surrounding area.
- Caplinger Mills River Front Resort is situated on the 15 acres on the banks of the Sac River, a dozen miles north of Stockton Lake. They have 22 RV sites, many with full hook-ups; plus areas for tent camping.
- Orleans Trail Marina Campground, less than two miles from downtown Stockton, is part of a full service resort, including boat rentals and sales and slip rentals. They have 41 campsites for RVs and primitive tent sires. Some RV sites have full hook-ups, some electric only. Cabins and other lodgings are available on-site.
- Stockton State Park campground has basic and electric campsites, including some walk-in basic sites about one-tenth of a mile from the parking area. Services include showers, drinkable water and laundry. There is a dump station in the park. This 2,716-acre park, overlooking Stockton Lake, includes picnicking, a marina, a swimming beach and fishing.
If you’ve never been camping, you’ve missed-out on some exciting outdoors activities. If you are an avid camper, keep at it. The name of the game here is having fun with family and friends.
Oh, and remember to help control the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer. Campers must observe the State Firewood Guidelines. Do not take your own firewood from home and do not take firewood from the campsite to any other area.