The state of Missouri is packed with fun, unexpected, and exciting places to camp. Of all the amazing places in the United States, the Ozarks, in particular, provide many different options when it comes to spending time in the great outdoors. Rich in natural beauty and history, the state of Missouri is a campers’ paradise.
There are 58 state parks in Missouri along with 6 national parks and an infinite number of private campgrounds. In fact, there are thousands of campsites, which are all close to the natural wonders of Missouri.
Great fishing is plentiful throughout the state, and many of the fishing spots are routinely stocked. In addition, there are many other activities from picnic areas to swimming areas for everyone who likes the outdoors here.
Popular Camping Activities in Missouri
- Horseback Riding
- Cave Exploration
- Historic Site Tours
Pro Tip for Missouri Campers
Many experienced campers feel the most desirable weather lasts from late May to late September.
Although, because of the fairly moderate weather and temperatures, most camping facilities are open year-round. Some services at the campgrounds can be seasonal, though. However, all services seem to be available from April 1- October 31.
That Said, Here Are the Best Places to Camp in Missouri
The Missouri State Park System
There are 44 state parks and state historic sites with overnight camping (58 state parks in all). There are a total of about 3,500 campsites, 194 cabins, and 1,000 miles of Missouri hiking trails.
These are scenic parks on mountains, rolling hills or flat terrains with charming tree-shaded campgrounds. Many of these campgrounds are on or near historic sites. Some of them feature lakes, rivers, and caves.
They are all open year-round for camping and activities, although services may be limited from November through March.
Top Missouri State Parks with Campgrounds
- Bennett Spring
- Sam A. Baker
- Cuivre River
- Graham Cave
- Long Branch
- St. Joe
- Pomme de Terre
- St. Francois
- Trail of Tears
- Mark Twain
- Watkins Woolen Mill
All of the parks take reservations and they are all are accessible for people with disabilities. The amenities vary from park to park but all of them have electricity for RVs. Most of them have water as well. Overall, the state and private campgrounds in Missouri are very accommodating to RVs.
Most of the parks also have tent camping, group camping, showers, restrooms, and dump stations. They are also modern, clean, and updated.
Three of the parks (Sam A. Baker, Cuivre River, and St. Joe) have equestrian campsites with RV electric hookups.
The park system does not include the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry. This is a 60,000-acre tract of land with more than 50 miles of trails adjacent to Echo Bluff State Park. This is actually private land leased to the state for the enjoyment of the public. There is no camping here.
You can camp at neighboring Echo Bluff and hit the trails daily. Echo Bluff State Park is open year-round and has full electric, water, and sewer hookups for RVs.
Lake of the Ozarks – State Park and Private Campgrounds
Lake of the Ozarks is a man-made reservoir located between St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri. At 17,741 acres, this is also the largest state park in Missouri. Nevertheless, this lake is so large, there are many private campgrounds here as well.
The length of the lake runs 92 miles from one end to the other. The lake also covers 61,000 acres and has a total shoreline of about 1,150 miles. (To give you an idea of how long this is, California’s entire coastline is only 840 miles.)
This means that you will find many different types of camping accommodations, as well as traditional hotels. Because of this, Lake of the Ozarks was named the “2016 Best Recreational Lake” by USA Today.
The lake also holds 617 billion gallons of fresh water and is loaded with fish. This includes spotted bass, largemouth bass, crappie, blue catfish, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, and more. So the lake is well-known for its fishing tournaments, one of its main attractions. Another of the big attractions here are the caverns.
Because there are so many campgrounds, you can generally find anything you want. These campgrounds range from deluxe RV hookups and luxury cabins to primitive group camping.
General Features of the Lake Campgrounds
- Electric RV Hookups
- Dump Stations
- General store
- Boat ramps/parking
Popular Campsites around the Lake
- Lake of the Ozarks State Park
- Cross Creek RV Park & Campground
- Osage Beach RV Park
- Majestic Oaks Campground
- Lazy River RV Resort
- Shorewood Landing RV Park
- Riverview RV Park & Campground
- Red Oak Resort & RV Park
- Deer Valley RV Park & Campground
- Peaceful Valley Resort & RV Park
Pro Tip for Missouri Campers
Book ahead, and always reserve your campsite in advance. This is the largest and busiest recreational area in the state, so the best places are always booked. As well, different services shut off at different times – so call ahead to check.
Meramec State Park
Meramec State Park is a 6,900-acre park that embodies everything awesome about camping in Missouri. Situated on the Meramec River, this park is considered to be a natural treasure of bluffs, caves, and lush forests.
Construction of the trails and facilities began in 1933 when they were designed to blend in with the rugged landscape. The result is a park that is as rich in cultural heritage as it is in natural beauty.
Especially tranquil is the river, where several miles of the riverbank have been preserved for park visitors. The picturesque scenery of the riverbank includes a special haven for the wildlife, and recreation for visitors.
Visitors can swim, raft, canoe, kayak, boat, fish, or simply float down the river. There is an outfitters store on the river that has snacks, rentals, and supplies.
There are also more than 40 caves and several natural springs scattered around the park’s expansive forest. The largest and most famous cave, Fisher Cave, has a guided tour. Tours are seasonal and provide many outstanding cave scenes for visitors to enjoy.
There are about 15 miles of trails that go through the nature areas, along the river, and into the forests. Nature discovery programs are conducted at the park outdoor amphitheater.
Camping Amenities of the Park
- 51 Basic Walk-in Sites
- 124 Electric RV Sites
- 14 Electric, Water Sites
- 20 premium RV Sites
- 10 Platform Tent Sites
- Group Sites
- General Store
- Park Rangers
Other Caves and Cave Tours
Missouri is known as the cave state, with around 6,000 explored caves. While most of the caves are not part of the state park system, they are all near camping or lodging. They also make a fascinating and educational activity for any camping trip. All cave tours have their own fees.
State Park Caves
- Onondaga Cave and Cathedral Cave
- Fisher Cave
- Ozark Caverns
- Bluff Dweller’s Cave, Noel
- Bridal Cave, Camdenton
- Meramec Caverns, Stanton (Not associated with the State)
- Devils Well, Salem
- Fantastic Caverns, Springfield
- Mark Twain Cave, Hannibal
- Marvel Cave, Silver Dollar City
- Riverbluff Cave, Camden
Camping in Branson
Branson is one of the Midwest’s premier family vacation destinations. So while there are lots of shows, attractions, and dining, there is also a lot of camping. These are family-oriented campgrounds. And they are a little more civilized than most, but they are nice for beginning campers. Plus, there is something to do for everyone here.
America’s Best Campground
This campground has everything and is especially RV friendly. All sizes of RVs are welcome here and the facilities are first-class. There are also a limited number of full-service cabins if you don’t have an RV.
This campground is very close to all of the attractions but claims to be country quiet.
- 136 pull-thru RV sites (up to 75’ in length)
- All sites have full hookups
- Satellite TV
- Concrete Patios
- BBQ Grills & Picnic Tables
- Pool & Spa
- Grocery Store
- Pool & Spa
- Car/RV Wash
- Dining Hall
- Outdoor Recreation
- Game room
- Concierge Service
Silver Dollar City Campground
Another luxury campground, this is also an accommodation close to all the attractions, which also features a shuttle.
- Luxury Cabins
- Full-Service RV Sites
- Tent Camping with Electricity
A standard KOA campground, there are 140 full-service RV sites. As well, there are tent sites, cabins, and lodges. This campground is a little less upmarket than some others here.
Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area
On a completely different note, there is primitive backpack camping amid all of the civilization in the area. Welcome to Busiek State Forest. Here you will find 18 miles of rugged hiking trails in a 2,700-acre park. You’ll only be about 16 miles from the attractions, but you’ll feel like you are a million miles away.
These trails are designated as multi-use for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. There are no motorized vehicles allowed. Primitive overnight camping requires a permit. There is no potable water or amenities at any of the nine designated campsites.
Table Rock State Park
Table Rock State Park is a 356-acre park located in the Branson area. There are two campgrounds here, both with full sewer/water/electric RV campsites and tent camping.
There is also the Lakeshore Trail, an easy walk of 2.25 miles. For a more strenuous hike, try the White River Valley Trail System. This is a 10-mile hiking and biking trail through the woods on the south side of Lake Taneycomo.
Other Camping Amenities
- Yurts Available
- Dump Station
- Fire Pits
- Grocery Store
- Picnic Tables
There is also direct boat access to Table Rock Lake – along with discounts for registered campers.
Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake is a man-made lake adjacent to the state park. It was created by completing a dam on the White River in 1958. It is a 43,000-acre lake with more than 800 miles of shoreline. The lake is also 79 miles long and extends into Northern Arkansas.
Because the lake is actually a river bed, there are many coves or “fingers” here where you can fish. And the fishing here is renowned. Anglers come from all over the country to catch largemouth, smallmouth, and black bass. It is listed every year as one of the top places to catch bass in the U.S. The lake also hosts many widely-publicized and heavily-attended fishing tournaments.
There are several commercial marinas here, along with many eateries, bistros and other amenities including:
- Kayak Rentals
- Bicycle Rentals
- Personal Watercraft Rentals
- Canoe Rentals
- Boat Rentals
- Boat Slip Rentals
For RV or tent camping, visitors can go to the adjacent park. The lake itself has a variety of resorts, hotels, lakefront cabins, and other accommodations.
If you are planning on fishing from a boat, it would be wise to pick up an official lake map. It explains the numbered signs in the lake that will help you navigate to the best fishing spots. The map can be picked up from the visitors’ center.
Camping Around St. Louis
You might not think of St. Louis as a place to camp overnight. Nevertheless, you might be surprised at what you can find here. Plus, it’s an inexpensive way to visit the St. Louis Arch.
Babler Memorial State Park
This park is about 30 minutes from downtown but feels like a world away. This is a beautiful old park, built in 1934 as an oasis from the growing city landscape.
The park is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is known for its massive stone gateway, hilly countryside, and mature forests. Hiking and equestrian trails wind through scenic viewpoints, stone bridges, and sheltered valleys.
There are 27 walk-in sites and 47 RV sites with electric here. There is also a dump station, showers, water, and organized group campsites. Updated showers and other amenities make it a wonderful place to spend the night.
Cahokia RV Parque
This campground is 5 miles from downtown. Amenities include a swimming pool, showers, laundry room, and a lounge. There is also a shuttle to downtown.
KOA St. Louis West Campgrounds & Cabins
This campground has full-service RV sites, air-conditioned cabins, and tent sites. Amenities include a meeting space, Wifi, cable TV, and discounts on Six Flags tickets. Dogs are allowed.