Missouri has plenty of lakeside campsites


Need to get away from today’s hectic pace and disconnect from the hustle and bustle? Go camping. Whether you’re just throwing a sleeping bag on the ground, pitching a tent, or having a well-equipped motorhome, camping under the night sky is a great way to slow down. And if you are camping near a lake, well, the fun is never ending. Almost all of Missouri’s lakes have camping facilities, as well as plenty of water sports. (While camping reservations aren’t usually required, they are recommended; plus, not all are open year-round.) As an added bonus, the sunsets, away from the city lights, are spectacular. In Missouri, there are plenty of places to enjoy the show.

Mark Twain Lake

Located about 40 minutes southwest of Hannibal, this 18,600-acre lake (managed by the Army Corps of Engineers) is great for fishing, especially crappie and bass. Throughout the year, many fishing tournaments are organized on the lake. There are stocked ponds for those who don’t have boats. Activities include hiking and horseback riding trails. Visit the State Historic Site of Mark Twain’s Birthplace in Florida, MO.

Ray Behrens Campground, 15 minutes north of Perry, has 160 campsites on the southeast shore of Mark Twain Lake; all sites have electricity. Boat and slide rentals are available.

Mark Twain State Park Campground, 15 minutes southeast of Stoutsville, offers basic and electric campsites, a special purpose camping area, and a group camping area. Services available include showers, drinking water (April-October) and laundry facilities. There is a dump station.

Mark Twain Landing, 11 miles south of Monroe City, offers fully hooked up RV sites, as well as wooded and lakefront tent sites. Facilities include cabins, condos, motel rooms, as well as a full-service general store and laundry room. Adjoining the landing, there is a water park and a large swimming pool.

Indian Creek Campground, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, is located approximately 15 miles south of Monroe City. The area includes 190 campsites; 20 primitive campsites for hiking; showers; bathroom; play ground; a fish cleaning station; a launching ramp; a beach; and hiking trails.

Wappapello Lake

The lake is a beautiful body of water with a perfect backdrop of Ozark Mountain. It is known for its largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, white bass and catfish. The surrounding 44,000 acres include horseback riding and hiking trails, as well as plenty of developed and undeveloped (primitive) sites for camping.

Add breathtaking views to your excursion when camping at Lake Wappapello State Park, 20 miles north of Poplar Bluff. Picnic shelters and campsites make it easy to have a relaxing vacation and a great fishing trip. The park offers basic and electric campsites, picnics, fishing, a swimming beach, and trails for hiking, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Potato Lake

Potato is located approximately 50 miles north of Springfield. The 7,821 acre lake, with 113 miles of shoreline, is well known for its fishing for largemouth bass, crappie and bass. The lake is the primary area in Missouri for trophy-sized muskellunge, which has been stored in the lake since 1966. There are over 650 campsites at various locations, as well as 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 near Pomme de Terre which total nearly 700 acres (2.8 km2). One on the south shore, four miles north of Pittsburg; the other section is 10 minutes southeast of the Hermitage. Each sector has 128 campsites, a public beach, picnic areas and hiking trails. The Indian Point Hiking Trail in the Pittsburg area ends on a rock platform with a great view overlooking the lake.

On the north shore, about 5 miles southwest of Hermitage, Harbor Campground and Marina offers overnight sites with water, electricity and sewage, tent sites and a shower stall. Boat slipways and boat rentals are available at the full service marina. The facility includes a convenience store and restaurant with live music most Friday and Saturday nights during the summer.

Smithville Lake

Twenty miles north of Kansas City, Smithville Lake was designed for outdoor enthusiasts. The two campgrounds have a total of over 770 tent and motorhome pitches – first come, first served. Facilities include: two swimming beaches; shelters; two full-service marinas with boat rentals; a marina reserved for sailboats; quayside restaurant; two 18-hole golf courses; great fishing from the shore and from the boat; 25 miles of walking / biking trails; 11 miles of single track mountain biking trails; and 26 miles of horse trails.

Stockton Lake

Stockton Lake offers beautiful scenery with three hundred miles of unspoiled shoreline and 25,000 acres of clear water. It is one of the top 10 sailing lakes in the United States and perhaps the best walleye fishing lake in the Midwest. For those of you who want to be one with nature, there are plenty of campgrounds around the lake and in the surrounding area.

Caplinger Mills River Front Resort is located on 15 acres on the banks of the Sac River, a dozen miles north of Stockton Lake. They have 22 RV sites, many with full hookups; as well as areas for tent camping.

The Orleans Trail Marina Campground, less than two miles from downtown Stockton, is part of a full-service complex, including boat rentals and sales, and slide rentals. They have 41 campsites for RVs and primitive tent bulls. Some RV sites have full hookups, some electric only. Cabins and other accommodation are available on site.

Stockton State Park Campground has basic and electric campsites, including basic walk-in sites about a tenth of a mile from the parking lot. Services include showers, drinking water and laundry. There is a dump station in the park. This 2,716-acre park, overlooking Stockton Lake, features picnics, a marina, a swimming and fishing beach.

If you’ve never been camping, you’ve missed out on some exciting outdoor activities. If you are an avid camper, keep going. The name of the game here is, have fun with family and friends. All of America would love to see where you choose to camp. Share your comments and photos on the VisitMO Facebook page.


Sally J. Minick