Best Camping in Missouri

Missouri, a state where the Great Plains meet the Ozark Mountains, offers a rich tapestry of camping experiences. With its flowing rivers, lush forests, and striking geological formations, Missouri is a paradise for campers seeking both the tranquility of nature and the thrill of outdoor adventures.

For those drawn to the water, the Current River in the Ozarks provides a stunning backdrop for a camping trip. The river, known for its clear, spring-fed waters, is ideal for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. Campgrounds like Pulltite and Round Spring offer riverside sites where you can listen to the gentle flow of the river under the stars. These areas are part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. This national park preserves the natural beauty of the Missouri Ozarks and offers ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, and exploring historic sites.

For a more rugged experience, Mark Twain National Forest covers a vast portion of the Ozarks, providing diverse camping opportunities from developed campgrounds to primitive backcountry sites. The forest is a haven for hikers, with trails that navigate through scenic landscapes of rolling hills, rocky bluffs, and dense woodlands. Bell Mountain Wilderness is a particularly notable spot for backpackers seeking solitude and panoramic views.

In the heart of the state, Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers a variety of camping experiences along the shores of Missouri's largest lake. With over 1,100 miles of shoreline, the park is a playground for water sports, fishing, and cave exploring. The park's campgrounds accommodate all types of campers, from those seeking basic tent sites to those needing full RV hookups. Nearby, the Ozark Caverns provide a cool escape from the summer heat, with guided tours that reveal the underground wonders of Missouri.

For a unique blend of history and natural beauty, visit the Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park in the southeastern region. The park is named for its "shut-ins" – narrow gorges where the Black River is squeezed between hard volcanic rocks, creating natural waterparks with pools and waterfalls. The park's campgrounds offer scenic views and easy access to the shut-ins for a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters. The area also offers trails for hiking and mountain biking, showcasing the rugged beauty of the St. Francois Mountains.

Here are a few tips for camping in Missouri: Be prepared for a range of weather conditions, especially if you're planning to camp in the spring or fall when temperatures can fluctuate widely. Bring insect repellent to ward off ticks and mosquitoes, particularly in wooded areas. And, whether you're floating on a river, exploring a national forest, or enjoying the amenities of a state park, always practice Leave No Trace principles to help preserve Missouri's natural beauty.

Missouri's camping destinations offer an escape into the diverse landscapes that define the state, from the serene rivers and lush forests of the Ozarks to the expansive waters of the Lake of the Ozarks. Whether you're seeking a peaceful retreat by the water, an adventure in the wilderness, or a journey through the state's natural and historical landmarks, camping in Missouri is an adventure waiting to be discovered.