In the south of Missouri lies the Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) which was founded in 1939 and named after famous American author Mark Twain, who was a Missouri native. The forest is over three million acres and contains a Wilderness and National Scenic River.
The forest itself represents 11% of Missouri’s forested land. It’s divided into six districts: Eleven Point, Houston-Rolla, Cedar Creek, Poplar Bluff, Salem, Potosi-Fredericktown and Cassville-Willow Springs.
Each district has there own unique natural elements. In the forest, you’re able to explore different areas, hike, mountain bike, fish, swim and camp. It’s great for family, nature enthusiasts and anyone who wants to get away from the busy city life. So let’s delve into my guide to the Best Mark Twain Camping!
Camping in Huzzah, Mark Twain National Forest
Where can I camp in Huzzah, Mark Twain National Forest?
Huzzah Valley Resort
The Nearby Mississippi River
Dawn On the Mississippi River by Kyle Brown is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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The Huzzah Valley Resort has been around since 1979 and offers something for everyone. You can pitch your tent, park your RV, or lodge in one of their cabins. The resort offers a variety of activities for both children and adults such as canoeing, swimming, fishing, kayaking, rafting, hayrides and horseback riding along the stunning and crystal clear Huzzah River.
The river isn’t large, however, the clarity and water-quality are unsurpassable. The campsites are along the Huzzah River which gives you a beautiful view of what this area has to offer.
There are also RV hookups and campsites in more wooded areas for those that do not want to stay along the river. The resort is located close to beaches, swimming holes, playgrounds and barbeque facilities for all guests.
When you leave the resort, you’re immediately immersed right into the nature of the Mark Twain National Forest and are freely able to hike along the various trails. A great option for those that want an experience full of nature and wildlife as this resort is designed to be nestled among it.
Bass River Resort
Nearby Courtois River
IMG_2639 by Richard M Rubin is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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The Bass River Resort is nestled in the Huzzah area of the Mark Twain National Park. This is a great camping resort for those that have children since it’s full of activities.
Whether you want to rent a cabin, bring your RV or set up your tent, the resort offers accommodations for everyone. If you’re bringing a tent, you’ll be able to set up camp along the crystal clear Courtois River.
The camping facilities include four bathhouses with showers and toilets, three pavilions, dump station, camper’s outpost, swimming pool, volleyball, basketball, fishing, hiking trails and horseshoe.
The campsites are quite large as they’re able to fit comfortably 10-12 people per site. So, if you have a large family or are going with a group of friends, this will be perfect.
Plus, the sites are spacious enough so that you have some privacy from your next door neighbours. Out of the resort, you’ll be able to explore the stunning nature of the Mark Twain National Forest as well as surrounding parks such as the Huzzah Conservation Area and the Pea Ridge Conservation Area.
Ozark Outdoors Riverfront Resort
Nearby Meramec River
Meramec River by Terri Brink is licensed under CC BY 2.0
|Tents & Rvs|
On the Meramec River lies the Ozark Outdoors Riverfront Resort just at the northern tip of the Mark Twain National Forest. The resort is fully loaded with amenities for anyone staying in a tent, RV or cabin.
Since the resort sits along the riverside, campers are able to enjoy the crystal clear and stunning views. The resort is open all year-round, so visitors can enjoy the hot summer months but also enjoy the off-season tranquillity that the resort offers.
The camp is divided into two parts: a family section and a party section, so people with children can enjoy a relaxing and quiet atmosphere while young adults are enjoying their time without disturbing those with families.
The resort covers all your basic amenities such as RV hookups, wifi, laundry, dump station and restrooms. However, in addition, they also offer other amenities to make your experience even better.
There’s a fully stocked general store which supplies everything you need as well as a fish station. The swimming pool is for everyone to use and is a great option when you don’t want to fish or swim in the river.
What’s there to do in Huzzah, Mark Twain National Forest?
Mark Twain National Forest
Mark Twain National Forest by A. Duarte is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Huzzah area is one of the areas that makes up the Mark Twain National Forest.
When going to this area, the main attractions are the wildlife and nature. Explore the north side of the Mark Twain National Forest and head into some deep luscious forests.
The Onondaga Caves are another amazing natural wonder as you descend into the depths and get to see why Missouri is considered “The Cave State” of the U.S.A. In this area, both children and adults will immerse themselves in nature as there is plenty of hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, mountain biking and cave exploring to do.
Camping in Steelville, Missouri
Where can I camp in Steelville, Missouri?
Garrison’s River Resort
Nearby Meramec River
Meramec River Run :: HDR by Jonathan is licensed under CC BY 2.0
|Rvs & Cabins|
The Garrisons River Resort sits along the Meramec River and is perfect for those who love river activities such as kayaking, canoeing, swimming and fishing. The Garrisons River Resort is fully packed with all the amenities plus there’s even cabins to stay in if you fancy a break from the Rv.
There are full-hookups, picnic tables, restrooms, showers and a free-to-campers swimming pool to enjoy. If you’re planning on doing water activities, the camp offers canoe and raft floats so you can explore or float down the Meramec River. There’s also horseback riding with a guided wrangler! Garrisons River Resort also has a dining lodge with Breakfast/Lunch/BBQ dinners.
If you’d like, you can also rent an RV unit that is stationary in the camp. They include air conditioning, heating, stove, bathroom and shower. Whether it’s the summer, spring or winter, you’ll be able to enjoy the campground and all the nature it has to offer.
With a short drive, you’ll be right in the Mark Twain National Park where you can hike throughout the park as well. It’s close to the small town of Steelville which is known as the “Floating Capital of Missouri” as three rivers: Meramec, Huzzah and the Courtois surround it.
Indian Springs Family Resort
Nearby Meramec River
meramec river_Wurdack Research Center_0015 by CAFNR is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Another campground which rests along the Meramec River is the Indian Springs Family Resort. It’s in the natural environment of the wooded Ozark Hills providing both relaxation and adventure.
Visitors can choose between an RV site, tent site, motel room, or cabin with linens provided on the historic resort, which was established in 1929. Both RV and tent sites are located along the banks of the upper Meramec River. This river is frequently used by the resort for canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and fishing for small mouth bass. Upstream is Maramec Springs Park fish hatchery with rainbow and brown trout.
Visitors can rent equipment from the resort for a 7-mile float which ends back at the campground, enjoying the pristine beauty that Missouri has to offer. Of course, aside from the activities provided by the resort such as volleyball and horseshoes, you’re able to explore national parks such as the Mark Twain National Forest which is a short drive away.
West of the resort is the Woods Memorial Conservation Area which is another park that offers amazing views of wildlife and nature. This resort is a great option if you have children who love to be outdoors, cooling off in the swimming pool, or playing in the spring-fed creek that runs through the campground. You’re also close to Steelville which makes for a great day trip for ice cream or to the Meramec Music Theater when you want a break from nature.
Candy Cane RV Park
Nearby Meramec River
Meramec River by Dave Clark is licensed under CC BY 2.0
|Tents & Rvs|
Candy Cane RV Park has an interesting backstory. The owner, Bill Siems’ dream was to open his own business and this is when Candy Cane RV Park was created.
The park is available to RV, tents and those that want to stay in the cabins. If you’re travelling on a budget, this is an extremely budget-friendly park as they guarantee it having the lowest rates 30 miles of Steelville.
The park comes with your essential amenities such as RV hookups, wifi, dump station, restrooms and picnic tables. In addition, there is also a playground and swimming pool for you to relax in on a hot summer’s day.
The only downside to this park is that it’s not along a riverside, so, the pool will be your only source to cool down. Though, it has great activities for visitors such as mini golf and the pavilion.
It’s right in the middle between the Mark Twain National Forest and the Woods Memorial Conservation Area so, in a short car ride, you’ll be able to hike trails and explore the great outdoors.
What is there to do in Steelville, Missouri?
meramec river_Wurdack Research Center_0027 by CAFNR is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Steelville, Missouri is a small town that’s situated on the northwest side of the Mark Twain National Park. It’s close to a couple of parks including the Woods Memorial Conservation Area and the Birds Nest Beach Park.
Visitors of Steelville can enjoy exploring nature by hiking, horseback or mountain bike as well as enjoying the canoeing, rafts and inner-tube float trips the city offers. Much of the economy of Steelville is reliant on the summer as many tourists come from Oklahoma and Illinois to camp.
Where can I camp in Lesterville, Missouri?
Nearby Black River
The Black River at Powhatan, Arkansas by J. Stephen Conn is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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If you’re looking to enjoy the Black River, then at Riversedge Campground, you’ll be able to camp along the riverside, enjoying the crystal clear waters. The campground is located right on the banks of the river with over 100 campsites.
Half of the campsites are equipped with water and electrical hookups with most of them right on the ½ miles of beachfront. The rest of the campsites are a short walk from the riverbank.
The campground offers you the opportunity to float along the river bank all day long, soaking up the midday sunshine. You’re also able to enjoy over the 5,000 acres of trails that you can either hike, bike or take on horseback which you can rent horses from the stalls on the campsites.
The campgrounds provide visitors with bathroom facilities, a general store, full hookups, and a dump station. It’s only 105 miles away from St. Louis, so, you can take a day trip to the big city if needed.
Close by the Mark Twain National Forest, you’ll be able to hike throughout the park and experience the beautiful wildlife Missouri has to offer.
Twin River Landings
Johnson’s Shut-Ins by Keith Yahl is licensed under CC BY 2.0
For over thirty years, Twin River Landings has been operating, providing campers with an experience they’ll never forget. They’re a family run business and focus on creating a clean and family-friendly environment for campers.
With that being said, they include a variety of services which both young and old will enjoy. The park has riverfront access, children’s playground, a sand volleyball court, horseshoe court, softball field, hayrides as well as a Cowboy Church service on Sundays.
They also have an Old Country Store which provides you with the essentials in case you forgot to pack it. There are 125 camping sites, with only a selected few along the riverside, as the rest of them are inland.
The campsites are in shaded, wooded areas which give you plenty of protection from the sun. RV sites are spacious and provide you with enough privacy from your neighbours. The campground is divided into sections and is all provided with a water spigot and restroom.
There’s beach access as well towards the back of the campground. You can enter the Mark Twain National Forest from the south side of the park and hike throughout the area.
Deer Creek Campground & River Outfitters
Spicebush Swallowtail and Aphrodite Fritillary by Sasha Vasko is licensed under CC BY 2.0
|Tents & Rvs|
The Deer Creek Campground & River Outfitters is perfectly situated along the Black River. Whether you’re with family or friends, they’ll be plenty to do during your stay. The campground offers visitors a variety of water activities such as canoeing, tubing, kayaking, rafting and swimming.
If you’re camping, however, and would like to switch it up, you’re able to stay in one of their rustic cabins. The campground is situated well to necessities such as restaurants, if you don’t feel like cooking, and general stores.
It’s located two hours away from St. Louis, so, if you want, you can leave the camp and spend a day in that historic Missouri city. Children and young adults will be kept busy as the campground offers volleyball, pavilion, and a children’s playground.
The tent sites are kept in shaded areas, making sure you’re protected from the sun. The RV sites are secluded and extremely peaceful. They have both water and electrical hookups as well as a dump station on the campground for waste disposal. An ideal choice for those who want to experience some relaxation in nature.
What is there to do in Lesterville, Missouri?
Missouri State Park
Johnson’s Shut-ins Missouri State ParkbyMatt Huff is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Lesterville, Missouri is located on the southeast side of the Mark Twain National Forest and is situated along the Black River. Lesterville is an extremely small town, populated with only 553 people.
Meaning, there are only 7 people per square mile. Much of its tourism is dependent during the summer months and tourists from neighbouring states come to admire and relax along the Black River.
In addition, Lesterville is located nearby many national and county parks, making it a great place to set up camp while exploring the surrounding area.
I can’t wait to revisit! Why not take a portable hiking light with you? See my guide to the OliLight Smart Hiking Light.