best camping in missouri | Top 10 for 2022

Last updated on September 9th, 2022 at 05:07 am.

Missouri camping options are filled with breathtaking scenery, wonderful historical sights, and colorful forests. Pack your tent, lace up your boots, and get ready to plan your summer camping adventure! We’ve got the 10 best camping in Missouri options to get back to nature and enjoy Missouri’s beautiful outdoors.

best camping in missouri

From Meramac Caverns to the Ozark Mountains, Missouri is the place to be if you’re seeking outdoor adventure. If you’re looking to explore and discover new and exciting Missouri campgrounds and the best camping spots in Missouri, we’re here to help.

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best camping in missouri

best campgrounds in missouri

Below, we have listed 10 of the best places to go camping in Missouri. This list includes historical sites, beautiful lakes and rivers, vast magical caves and caverns, and overall fun places to gather with family or friends for a relaxing outdoor getaway.

Camping Tip: It’s always a good idea to bring a headlamp, glow in the dark camping compass and adventure first aid kit. But, most important — don’t forget the S’Mores Kit!

1. Devil’s Backbone Wilderness Campground

s'mores at campfire

Devil’s Backbone lies in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest and has over 6,000 acres of creeks, rivers, natural springs, and forests to explore. You will never get bored at Devil’s Backbone, as there are miles of trails, making this the ideal spot to go hiking or even overnight backpacking.

Besides hiking and sightseeing, this spot comprises over 13 miles of horse riding trails and runs along the North Fork of the White River.

This National Forest is accessible by driving to the Collin’s Ridge Trailhead and hiking up to Devil’s Backbone. The Forest is open year-round and you can camp anywhere without a reservation as long as it’s at least 100 feet away from a trail or road.

Devil’s Backbone is one of the most primitive campgrounds in Missouri, as they do not offer electrical or sewage hookups. But, it is one of the best places to plan a camping trip if you truly want to get back to nature and enjoy the best the Ozark Highlands.

Campsites: Anywhere as long as it’s at least 100 feet from any trail.

Closest towns: Pottersville, Dora, and West Plains

  • St. Louis to Devil’s Backbone is about 3 hours 40 minutes (222.0 mi).
  • Kansas City, MO to Devil’s Backbone is about 4 hr 30 minutes (278.4 miles).
  • Branson to Devil’s Backbone is about 2 hours (86.8 mi).

2. Bell Mountain Wilderness camping

Bell Mountain Wilderness is a beautiful piece of the St. Francois Mountains and is full of steep climbs and low dips.

With over 9,000 acres of forests and mountains to explore, this is the perfect place for experienced backpackers and hikers. Bell Mountain Wilderness only offers dispersed camping at least 100 feet away from any trail, as this is the spot for survivalists and seasoned campers looking for complete wilderness.

This outstanding area of Missouri gives you Bell Mountain and Lindsey Mountain, leading to magical views of the colorful landscape. Aside from the breathtaking mountains, spring-fed Shut-in Creek runs through the land, giving you an array of gorges and streams to explore, along with granite glades gifting the land with unique wildlife.

Groups of campers and hikers are limited to 10 people in order to protect the wilderness, and no reservations are necessary. If you’re looking for uninterrupted adventure in the great outdoors, drive to the Bell Mountain Wilderness Trailhead to begin your adventure.

This is some of the best remote wilderness camping in Missouri. If you’re not up to remote camping, but driving through Ironton or Belleview at some point, this is also a great day trip for hiking.

Campsites: Anywhere as long as it’s at least 100 feet from any trail.

Closest towns: Ironton and Belleview

  • St. Louis to Bell Mountain Wilderness is about 1 hour 30 minutes (86.5 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO to Bell Mountain Wilderness is about 5 hours (285.7 miles).
  • Branson to Bell Mountain Wilderness is about 3 hours and 30 minutes (207.2 mi).

3. Table Rock State Park camping

cooking at camp site

Table Rock State Park is the perfect place to plan a family camping trip. All campgrounds offer electricity, sewer, and water, making it a great place to settle in for a comfortable outing.

Table Rock State Park has two campsites, including RV spots, picnic areas, and platforms for tent campers.

Sitting on Table Rock Lake, the park offers many exciting activities, including kayaking, boating, paddle boarding, fishing, and swimming.

Any visitors staying at the state park will receive a 10% discount on activities and rental equipment at the State Park Marina.

You can reserve a camping spot up to 12 months in advance. This Park is south of Gretna, so if you’re in the area, this is a great place to settle in for a few fun nights. Grab the whole family, pack your bags, and drive to Table Rock State Park for an eventful camping trip.

Campsites: 2 with full hookup

Closest towns: Hollister and Gretna.

  • St. Louis to Table Rock State Park is about 4 hours (263.0 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO Table Rock State Park is about 3 hours and 30 minutes (220.3 mi).
  • Branson to Table Rock State Park is 16 minutes (9 miles).

4. Meramec Caverns Lajolla Natural Campgrounds

Meramec River

Meramec Caverns Natural Campground is one of the most beautiful campsites in Missouri place located off of interstate 44 (Historic Route 66). The Campgrounds are right along the Meramec River and are surrounded by vivid trees and flora.

Walking distance from the Campgrounds is the Cave, which offers exciting tours. Not only that, but the park also houses a restaurant, a camp store, a candy store, riverboat rides, and gold panning.

The campgrounds offer restrooms, a shower house, picnic areas, and a playground for the kids.

If you want to go camping, but don’t want to sleep in a tent in the great outdoors, Meramec Caverns have you covered! Right above the campgrounds is the 32-unit Meramac Caverns Motel with a cozy log cabin atheistic to keep you in a warm and adventurous mood.

This camping site is the perfect place for the whole family to explore. Meramec State Park is located 60 miles south of St. Louis and is taking reservations for next year.

If you want to make cherished memories with the family, or are seeking a taste of adventure, Meramec Caverns is the camping trip of your dreams.

Campsites: 40 with electrical, sewage, and water hookups

Meramac Cavern Motel reviews on Tripadvisor.

Closest town: Sullivan

  • St. Louis to Meramec Caverns Natural Campgrounds is about 1 hour (67.5 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO to Meramec Caverns Natural Campgrounds is about 4 hours (244.3 miles).
  • Branson to Meramec Caverns Natural Campgrounds is about 2 hours and 45 minutes (187.4 miles).

5. St. Francois State Park Campsites

family campsite

St. Francois State Park has over 100 drive-in campsites equipped with covered picnic tables, restrooms, hot showers, parking, and even laundry facilities, so you can wash up after a fun day in the river.

St. Francois State Park is the ideal Missouri camping retreat for people looking to escape stressful everyday life. This park gives you three hiking trails leading to the Coonville Creek Wild Area, where you can explore a variety of freshwater springs and swimming holes.

If you are a fan of canoeing, or just like to play in the water, Big River runs through the Park and is a perfect place to cool off and enjoy the weather.

For those who love to explore the natural beauty of the forest, Pike Runs Hills is a great place to view rare flora and wildlife. If you’re passing through Bonne Terre, St. Francois State Park is just 5 miles north and the perfect place for a camping trip. Plan ahead and make a reservation up to 12 months in advance.

Campsites: Over 100 with electricity, water and sewage hookups

Closest town: Bonne Terre

  • St. Louis to St. Francois State Park Campgrounds is about 50 minutes (53.8 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO to St. Francois State Park Campgrounds is about 4 hours and 20 minutes (287.1 mi).
  • Branson to St. Francois State Park Campgrounds is about 4 hours (234.0 miles).

6. Bliss Spring Campground

Bliss Spring Campground is located in The Irish Wilderness and is a great place for basic, undisturbed camping in the Ozark Mountains. This spot is for experienced campers who want to escape reality for a couple of days and enjoy the smell of the crisp air and lush forests.

You can choose to both drive into your campsite or park in a lot and hike to a more secluded site. There are no electrical or sewage hookups, making this spot completely isolated from the busy world we all need a break from.

Bliss Spring Campgrounds offers the Blue Ridge Trail as an incredible day hike. What this place lacks in convenience, it makes up for twice in beauty and outdoor bliss. If you find yourself at Bliss Springs; Ozark National Scenic River is close by, and makes for a great place to cool off and go for a dip.

A few miles drive on back roads in Fremont, this beautiful spot is the perfect day trip for adventurous travelers in the area. If you want to experience the Ozarks in its natural form, Bliss Springs Campground is the camping trip for you. No reservations are required.

Campsites: Anywhere

Closest town: Fremont

  • St. Louis to Bliss Spring Campground is about 3 hours and 35 minutes (193.8 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO to Bliss Spring Campground is about 5 hours and 15 minutes (319.8 miles).
  • Branson to Bliss Spring Campground is about 3 hours (145.2 miles).

7. Hawn State Park Campground

camp stove making breakfast

Hawn State Park campground is located west of Ste. Genevieve County, and is the perfect place to fill your adventurous desires. This gorgeous park gives you over 4,000 acres of scenic and geological exploration to consume your day with fun.

Rockhounds and hikers love the experience this park offers. The sandstone canyons and cliffs create a vigorous atmosphere that creates a sense of wonder. Aside from the geological wonderment, the landscape of oak and pine trees creates a warm and inviting feeling, where hikers can view the great outdoors at its fullest.

Hawn State Park makes for a magnificent bird watching spot, as the park is home to a colorful array of birds. Hikers can also experience the greenery and bliss alongside Pickle Creek, where the graceful stream will erase any stress weighing on your back. For visitors wishing to enjoy a more luxurious camping trip, this park offers electrical and sewage outlets, hot showers, and picnic areas.

What’s a park without scenic trails? Hawn State Park is filled with trails, ranging from short day hikes, to long backpacking adventures.

One of the best backpacking trails in the state of Missouri is here at Hawn State Park, with 10 miles of beauty, wildlife, and breathtaking overlooks areas. So gather the family, make a reservation, and drive into Hawn State Park, where you will experience the Missouri wilderness at its fullest.

Campsites: 52 with water, sewage, and electric hookups

Closest towns: Ste. Genevieve and New Offenburg

  • St. Louis to Hawn State Park is about 1 hour and 10 minutes (70.2 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO to Hawn State Park is about 4 hours and 40 minutes (303.5 miles).
  • Branson to Hawn State Park is about 4 hours and 20 minutes (249.7 miles).

8. Graham Cave State Park Camping

campsite with tent and chairs

Graham Cave State Park is more than a camping spot; it’s a historic landmark that taught humanity more about the life of our ancestors.

Graham State Park is a piece of ancient history you can explore. Over 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers lived in this cave, and now you can walk the same ground they wandered.

Graham State Park offers far more than historic viewing, as there are almost 400 lush areas to journey through, including the Graham Cave Glades Natural Area.

The mouth of Graham Cave is filled with interactive exhibits, to turn your camping trip into a fulfilling history lesson. The campgrounds at Graham State Park make for the perfect place to gather with the family, and enjoy the fresh Ozark air.

This park isn’t just for history buffs, as there is a boat launch along the Loutre River where you can fish or just relax and enjoy life. Graham State Park is west of Danville on highway 40, and offers parking, restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.

Make your reservations, pack your bags, and drive into Graham State Park because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to plunge into a piece of human history.

Campsites: 52 with water, sewage, and electrical hookups

Closest town: Danville

  • St. Louis to Graham Cave State Park is about 1 hour and 46 minutes (99.6 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO to Graham Cave State Park is about 2 hours and 30 minutes (170.6 miles).
  • Branson to Graham Cave State Park is about 3 hours and 30 minutes (226.9 miles).

9. Watkins Mill State Park

Watkins Mill State Park is the perfect family getaway for those seeking historic adventure and fun. Aside from camping; Watkins Mill State Park is a historic landmark for visitors wanting to experience the 1870s.

This park offers paved bike paths, small hiking trails, and even a 100-acre lake to fish in.

Inside the Park is the Watkins Woolen Mill Historic Site filled with 19th-century buildings along with a historic textile mill, which gives the park its name.

This park is the perfect place for a family get together and offers hours of exploration and fun. The campground in the park is scenic and filled with wildlife, like white-tailed deer and wild turkey.

Watkins Mill State Park offers parking, picnic spots, boating, metal detecting, swimming, and horseback riding. Being just north of Kansas City in Watson, this park is a convenient getaway for travelers passing by.

If you want to plan ahead, the park and historic site take reservations. Take a bite of American history and drive into Watkins Mill State Park. 

Campsites: 96 with electrical, water, and sewage hookups

Closest town: Lawson

  • St. Louis to Watkins Mill State Park is about 4 hours and 30 minutes (247 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO to Watkins Mill State Park is about 35 minutes (30.7 miles).
  • Branson to Watkins Mill State Park is about 3 hours and 45 minutes (237.9 miles).

10. Campground At The Falls

Campground At The Falls is the perfect place to end this list. This campground offers the peace and relaxation you rightfully deserve. Sitting right outside of Pineville, Campground At The Falls is everything campers, fishermen, families, and couples could dream of in a campground.

Enjoy the crisp air and a stunning waterfall as well as great hiking. The campgrounds offer promising fishing, swimming, tent camping, and even inflatable floats to relax on the river.

If you want to camp in class, this spot has you covered! Visitors can make reservations to rent one of their warm cabins, an RV cruiser, or a tent platform and enjoy the great outdoors in comfort.

For those camping the old-fashioned way, Campground At The Falls provides a shower house, restrooms, picnic areas, and fire pits.

If you want an exciting and eventful camping trip, Campground At The Falls is a great option for a family vacation. Visit their website to reserve a day pass and enjoy camping at its finest.

Camping Sites: 50 with full hookups

Closest town: Pineville

  • St. Louis to Campground At The Falls is about 4 hours and 30 minutes (315 miles).
  • Kansas City, MO to Campground At The Falls is about 3 hours (190 miles).
  • Branson to Campground At The Falls is about 2 hours (94 miles).

Additional Camping Locations in Missouri

You can camp along the river in Missouri at Bow Creek, Green Island, and Goat Island Recreation Areas. These are all free, but primitive, leave-no-trace camping locations. Some of the sites are considered stealth camping in unestablished wilderness sites.

We hope you enjoyed this guide to the top Missouri campgrounds. If you are looking for more of the best things to do in Missouri, check out

Glamping & Camping Missouri Must-Have Items

Pack your tent, lace up your boots, and get ready to embark on a camping adventure! Below are a few of our favorite camping gadgets and gear to make your time in the wilderness more fun!

  1. Thermacell MR300 Portable Mosquito Repeller Includes 12 Hours of long lasting refills. No spray, no DEET, no open flame.
  2. Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury Camp Chair The first-ever swinging and reclining camp chair takes relaxation and star gazing to a new level.
  3. Kammok Double Roo Hammock It supports up to 500 pounds but packs down to the size of a water bottle.
  4. Advanced Elements Solar Shower Large 5-gallon capacity that is designed to heat water fast in the warm sun.
  5. Outdoor First Aid Kit This kit is designed for camping and outdoor adventure. You hope you’ll never have to use but will never regret packing it with your camping gear.

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