Missouri’s natural landscapes are as entertaining as its fun-loving cities.
Whether road-tripping along part of the historic Route 66, vacationing at the Lake of the Ozarks, or following in the footsteps of homegrown hero Mark Twain—Missouri is made for traveling. From Kansas City to St Louis, you’re never far from a state park—there are 38 to choose from—while the vast Mark Twain National Forest encompasses 1.5-million acres spread across seven different wilderness areas. Plan your camping trip from May through October to make the most of the forests, lakes, and wilderness areas, or cozy up in an RV through the snowy winter months.
Kansas City, Missouri’s largest city, is best known for its jazz scene and BBQ restaurants, but there are also plenty of natural attractions to explore in the north. Head to nearby Weston Bend State Park to camp along the Missouri River, or go biking and horseback riding along the multi-use trails of Crowder State Park. Over on the eastern state border, Wakonda State Park has six lakes to choose from, while the Mark Twain State Park has family campgrounds in the Salt River Hills.
State capital Jefferson City lies at the heart of Missouri, and just to the north, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park provides tranquil camping amid a backdrop of natural caves, streams, and woodlands. Summer campers flock to the Lake of the Ozarks region, where the huge reservoir is fringed with sandy beaches, golf courses, and restaurants. If you tire of the Ozarks camping resorts, Bennett Spring State Park makes a worthy alternative, renowned for its trout fishing.
At the meeting point of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers, St Louis is home to one of Missouri’s most visited attractions, the Gateway Arch National Park. Nearby, hikers can enjoy full-amenity camping at Meramec River State Park, while Castlewood State Park is renowned for its mountain biking trails, and Sam A Baker State Park is one of the region’s most visited. Alternatively, escape to the wilderness of the Mark Twain National Forest, where you can choose between tent/RV sites, cabins, or dispersed camping in the woods.
Bordered by Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, the southwest is Missouri’s wild frontier. Venture into the Mark Twain National Forest to enjoy backcountry camping in the wilderness, rev up your OHV and tackle the off-road trails of St Joe State Park, or fish for rainbow trout in the stocked waters of Roaring River State Park. Finally, don’t miss the hike to Grand Falls. The 163-foot wide waterfall is Missouri’s largest, and lies just outside of Joplin.