Missouri has an extensive state park system that truly has something for everyone. Even if you aren’t much into tent camping there are many parks with alternative lodging — from cabins to motel rooms and even a yurt — that will allow you to explore the great outdoors without giving up much comfort.
Lake of the Ozarks State Park
Nestled in the beautiful forested Ozark area of central Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks State Park is on the edge of the gorgeous reservoir that gives it its name. This is the largest state park in Missouri and has plenty of amenities for families. In addition to dozens of basic and electric campsites, the park features eight cabins (with electricity, heating and cooling but no water) and one fabulous and unique yurt (this also has electricity and heat but no air conditioning), all with reasonable rental fees.
The park has an on-site marina complete with boat rental, plus numerous trails and even a stable for horseback riding. The Ozark Caverns is a cave system that is available for tours and is an awesome respite on a hot day. The nearby town of Osage Beach is within easy driving distance and has numerous grocery stores and family attractions and is great for a day out.
Wildlife is plentiful so expect daily visits from deer and raccoons, and be sure to put your trash up at night.
Location: 403 Highway 134, Kaiser, Missouri 65047-0170
Mark Twain State Park
Located near Mark Twain’s birthplace of Florida, Missouri and the town of Hannibal he made famous, the Mark Twain State Park is located on the eastern edge of Missouri a couple hours north of St. Louis. This park is bordered by the expansive Mark Twain and boasts breathtaking scenery and rustic charm. There is plenty of opportunity for tent or RV camping but there are also six camper cabins available, which feature heating, cooling and electricity but no running water.
Amenities available within the park include fishing, boating and swimming as well as hiking trails. There is also a playground for your little ones, as well as a seasonal naturalist who presents nature programs throughout the summer.
Location: 37352 Shrine Road, Florida, Missouri 65283-2127
Bennett Spring State Park
Known primarily for its excellent trout fishing opportunities and its on-site hatchery, Bennett Spring State Park has many other outdoor experiences for you to enjoy. Its proximity to the calm, clear waters of the Niangua River makes it a great place to stay while you enjoy a float trip. For lodging, there are plenty of regular campsites as well as cabins and traditional hotel rooms.
Interpretative, guided hikes are available free of charge, or you can forage off on your own for a more intense walk. There is a nature center within the park as well as swimming in the park’s pool and several playgrounds.
Location: 26250 Highway 64A, Lebanon, Missouri 65536-6797
There are many more state parks and historical sites within the state of Missouri. To check out one near where you live or are visiting, see the Missouri State Park’s website.
Image credit: By James Carr (originally posted to Flickr as Party Cove Weekend) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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