Characterized by rolling green hills, lambent lakes, and rambling rivers from border to border, Missouri is an ideal region for summer camping.
While state parks like Table Rock, Meramec, and Babler receive accolades as excellent camping spots for good reason, Missouri features over 50 state parks, 1,000+ miles of trails, and over 3,500 campsites. With all that real-estate, there’s bound to be some great places to camp that fly under the radar. Here’s four of our favorite hidden gem camping spots in The Show-Me State.
Hercules Glades Wilderness
Hercules Glades Wilderness, located within Mark Twain National Forest in Forsyth, MO, is an outdoorsman’s paradise and the oldest wilderness in Missouri. The hiking trails offer steep terrains, river crossings, and elevations up to 1200 feet. The wildlife is more akin to animal populations one might expect to see in the American Southwest. Scorpions, rattlesnakes, road runners and lizards share an ecosystem with more traditional Missouri wildlife like black bears, raccoons, quails, and white-tailed deer. Red cedars, prairie grass, and maple trees pepper limestone outcroppings and rocky hillsides. While it’s not the easiest place to camp due to the somewhat rough hiking terrains and no utilities or drinking water, the unique flora and fauna make the juice well-worth the squeeze.
Montauk State Park
Located at the mouth of the Current River just south of Salem, this shady getaway is beloved by fishing enthusiasts for its robust population of rainbow trout. Bikers and hikers will also be satisfied with three separate trails that provide breathtaking views of the Ozark Mountain region. While those who prefer to rough-it will be well-pleased, the park caters to casual campers too, with motels, showers, cabins, and a general store.
Greer Crossing Recreation Area
Located just outside of the city of Winona, Greer Crossing is the perfect place for an outdoor family getaway. The park is positioned to the east of the Eleven Point River with easy boat access. Fishing is popular at the park, which offers an abundance of rainbow trout, bass, sunfish, and more. Campsites are secluded with fire pits, picnic tables, toilets, boat ramps, and restrooms. For hikers, a four-mile trail wraps around the river that leads through the scenic Ozark Mountains to McCormack Lake. People love Greer Crossing for it’s family friendly environment, aesthetically-pleasing views of the Ozarks, and convenience/amenities.
Stockton State Park
For those who love lake life but don’t want to battle the hordes of campers in places like Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, or Branson during the summer, There’s no better destination than Stockton State Park. Whether your thing is skiing, sailing, kayaking, swimming, scuba diving, or fishing, Stockton Lake’s perpetual breeze and calm waters make it a joy to spend the day on. Off the water, there is a large beach, miles of biking/hiking trails, scenic views, and numerous lodging areas that range from campsites to cabins.
An argument can be made that there is no better place to camp in the continental US than Missouri, and while the most often-visited sites in the Show-Me state attract throngs of visitors in the summertime for good reason, you can enjoy staying off the beaten path in these lesser-known wonders of the camping world.
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This article was originally posted here.