The Best Places to Go Camping in Missouri, USA

Missouri offers plenty of scope for wild camping in all sorts of landscapes
Missouri offers plenty of scope for wild camping in all sorts of landscapes | © UfukSaracoglu / Getty Images
Photo of Mandi Keighran
8 July 2021

While Missouri is celebrated for its jazz, beer brewing and barbecue, it’s arguably one of the most underrated states when it comes to natural beauty – from sprawling forests and rolling prairies to underground caves. There’s plenty to appreciate and camping is the best way to immerse yourself in the state’s natural wonders. Whether you’re looking to experience life on an organic farm, or enjoy a luxurious glamping getaway, this is our pick of the best places to go camping in Missouri.

Bland

Architectural Landmark
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Hike couple hikers hiking forest trail in Autumn nature going camping with backpacks.
© Maridav / Alamy Stock Photo
This tiny city, in Gasconade and Osage counties, is located just below the Canaan Conservation Area, which offers 1,435 acres (581ha) of forest, woodlands and glades. The scenic area features two working farms that date back to the 1800s, as well as a multi-use trail for hikers, bicycles and horseback riding. Set up camp in one of the designated camping areas within the conservation area itself, or head 20 minutes south to find DL Farms, a working farm that offers guests a fascinating insight into organic farming.

DL Farms

Camping
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Interested in organic farming? Book a stay on this century-old working farm in the rolling hills of central Missouri. The farm – which grows organic fruit and vegetables and raises pigs, cattle and chickens – has been in the same family since the mid-19th century and features 180 acres (73ha) of pasture and secluded woods. The knowledgeable CampKeepers offer guests tutorials on gardening and raising livestock, farm tours and vegetables and meat for purchase. Nearby, you’ll find opportunities for canoeing, fishing, and hiking, as well as wineries and distilleries to explore.

Catawissa

Natural Feature
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The Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America
© Michael Snell / Alamy Stock Photo
The Catawissa Conservation Area was originally a gravel mining operation in the floodplain of the Meramec River. Today, however, the area boasts beautiful forests and the gravel mining pits have been transformed into around 53 acres (21ha) of manmade lakes. Nearby, you’ll find the Shaw Nature Reserve, which is known for its orchid collection and operated as an extension of the Missouri Botanical Garden. The new Don Robinson State Park is also just a 15-minute drive from Catawissa. Explore the region from the secluded Idle Acres campsite, which also features a family-run winery.

Idle Acres Site 1

Camping
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Taconic State Park
© Tentrr
This secluded campsite is set on 40 acres and is just a five-minute drive from the new Don Robinson State Park in the upper watershed of the LaBarque Creek. Here, you’ll find a spectacularly rugged landscape that’s home to sandstone box canyons, caves, cliffs, glades and forests. The campsite itself is set up with the standard Tentrr canvas tent and has a forest where you can spot deer and turkeys, as well as a pretty pond. The owners also run the adjacent sprawl of land, where you’ll find the family winery.

Hamilton

Architectural Landmark
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Cyclists riding through woods, rear view
© PhotoAlto / Alamy Stock Photo
The city of Hamilton is known as the ‘quilting capital of the world’ – and is home to the Missouri Star Quilt Company and the Missouri Quilt Museum. Fittingly, there’s also a quaint main street lined with shops selling everything from gifts and flowers to fabrics and quilting supplies. The surrounding landscape is also worth exploring through hiking trails, such as the nearby Smithville Lake Loop via Backbone Trail; alternatively, treat yourself to a glamping trip at the nearby Big Bear Yurt.

Hillside

Camping
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© Tentrr
Nestled into a semi-wooded area, overlooking a large corn and soybean field, this luxe glampsite is the perfect rural getaway for couples in search of romance. Relax around the firepit, enjoy drinks on the deck, or float on a blow-up mattress in the nearby pond, then retire to the comfortable canvas tent for a good night’s sleep on the double bed. The tent also features bedside lamps, fans, a sink and a lounge chair. Traveling as a group or with family? There’s also a second safari-style tent available to rent, which offers space for additional campers.

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  • Juliette Creekside

    Camping
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    © Tentrr
    This creekside glampsite features a large canvas tent in a wooded alcove, which the CampKeeper describes as feeling like a magical private fairytale. The tent is equipped with a comfortable double bed and rustic timber furniture and it opens out to a furnished deck that makes an ideal setting for sundowners. If you’re traveling as a family or group of friends, you can also rent a safari-style tent that sleeps an additional two guests. The site also features a private timber toilet cabin.

    Big Bear Yurt

    Camping
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    © Tentrr
    The luxurious yurt at Big Bear has more boutique hotel vibes than roughing it camping – think queen-size bed with pillows and blankets, boho-chic timber furnishings, an in-room sink and mirror for freshening up and a timber ‘Happy Hour’ deck with sun loungers. The yurts are set in a grassy meadow overlooking a hidden field and there’s also a fire pit, toilet and gas grill on-site. You can even rent a blow-up mattress for floating in the pond, whilst the surrounding area also boasts plenty of hiking trails.

    Fordland

    Architectural Landmark
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    White Rock Mountain Recreation Area in the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas.
    © Inge Johnsson / Alamy Stock Photo
    This small city, in southern Webster County, sits at the foot of the Ozark mountains and is just a half-hour drive from the larger Springfield – the birthplace of the iconic Route 66, the highway that inspired countless road trips. The region is also known as a gateway into the Ozarks, where you’ll find an abundance of springs, waterfalls, lakes, caves and beautiful forests to explore. Make the most of the region’s natural wonders by setting up camp in the wilderness. Finley Riverfront Escape is just a 20-minute drive from Fordland and offers unbeatable waterside sites.

    Finley Riverfront Escape

    Camping
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    Looking for a secluded campsite with access to some seriously good fishing? Pitch a tent at the Finley Riverfront Escape, a bare-bones campsite that boasts reams of wilderness, including sites on both sides of the Finley River. Claim a site directly on the pretty pebble beach, or for something more private, set up in the tall grass meadow by the entry. The river has plenty of fresh trout and bass and you can also go swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking.

    These recommendations were updated on July 8, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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