Explore this mid-Missouri college town surrounded by natural landscapes.
This small college town is located approximately halfway between two of Missouri’s largest cities, St. Louis and Springfield. Venture off of Interstate 44 to explore the natural areas surrounding the town. The Meramec and Gasconade Rivers are nearby, with rambling waters offering prime places to paddle, fish, and float. Missouri’s version of MIT, Missouri S&T is home to a nuclear reactor, a replica of Stonehenge, and one of the state’s best St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Several private RV parks offer a full suite of amenities, including full hookups and free wifi. Venture out to the nearby national forest and state parks for scenic public campgrounds.
Mark Twain National Forest covers 1.5 million acres in Missouri, and Rolla provides a great jumping off point for exploring this wilderness. Lane Spring Recreation Area is just 13 miles south of town, yet feels worlds away, thanks to the bubbling waters of Lane Spring and Little Piney Creek, which is designated as a Blue Ribbon Wild Trout Stream (a rare find in Missouri). Fishing, swimming, tubing, and hiking can all be enjoyed in this scenic slice of the Missouri Ozarks. Campsites for tents and RVs are available, with some electric hookups.
This state park gem is 40 minutes northeast of Rolla. Hike or fish along the Meramec River. Float trips outside of the park are a popular way to spend a lazy afternoon in the summer—grab an inner tube and set sail. Rippling springs and towering limestone bluffs line the waterway. For a unique adventure, book a tour of Fisher Cave. The state park campground features basic, electric, and full hookup sites.
A Missouri favorite for those looking for a peaceful retreat, Montauk State Park is less than an hour south of Rolla. It is located on Pigeon Creek near the headwaters of the Current River. Seven springs in the park cool the waters to the chilly temperatures where trout thrive, making this a popular park for fly fishing. History buffs won’t want to miss the historic Montauk Mill, built in 1896. Hiking, biking, and camping can all be enjoyed in the park. Basic and electric sites are available—some are right on the waters.
If the waterways are the heart of your adventures, summertime is THE time to visit, as waters warm enough to take a splash. Daily temps can top out over 90 degrees, with high humidity. In spring, the weather is generally pleasant, though leaves don’t fully bud out until May. The rolling Ozarks hills around Rolla are especially scenic in fall, as the trees erupt in an array of colors. Temperatures are mild—providing prime campfire weather.