You will understand why Missouri is nicknamed “The Show-Me State” as soon as you pull your rig into Arrow Rock Historic Site in Arrow Rock, Missouri. Just an hour from Kansas City or two hours from St. Louis, Arrow Rock is centrally located and easy to find. There’s plenty of history, breathtaking bluffs, and Big Soldier Lake, which is named after a Little Osage Indian chief. The Arrow Rock bluff was a significant landmark on the Missouri River for the Little Osage tribe, as well as other Native Americans and explorers. In fact, you can see some of the archaeological evidence going back more than 12,000 years at the museum and visitor center in the park.
You’ll find a plethora of fun activities and lots of room to maneuver your RV or campervan throughout the 167-acre park. You can fish in the lake, explore the wooded trails, learn about history in the visitor center or museum, or view displays of historic furniture and other artifacts in George Caleb Bingham’s home and the Old Courthouse. There’s also a tavern with a restaurant, playground, picnic areas, and of course, a large campground with lots of RV sites. Visit the old concrete jail where they used to keep the bad guys, get some snaps of the three arched stone bridge of antiquity, and view the beautiful countryside of Missouri from the lookout shelter. And you will always find plenty of room to park the camper or RV.
Maneuvering your RV or trailer through the park is a breeze since they expect plenty of RVers at Arrow Rock State Historic Site. Whether you are coming from Missouri or out of state, you will have an easy time getting to the park since it is just off the major highway. Once you get off the highway, there is a nice relaxing drive through some peach and apple orchards, or you can cut through the quaint little town of Blackwater if you need to stop and fuel up the rig.
Parking may be limited by some of the smaller historic buildings such as the jail, seminary, and old courthouse, but these are walkable anyway. The Arrow Rock visitor center has a large parking lot, and the tavern and lake have decent sized lots as well. The trailer disposal station and bathhouse are accessible but just barely so you will need to drive carefully there.
Attach some bikes to your rig or camper so you can ride around on some of the narrower roads and the trails. All of the RV sites have plenty of room with the largest space being 66 feet and the smallest at just 40. Each of the lots are decent sized, and you can choose from a variety of spaces, which all have picnic tables, fire rings, and trash receptacles.
Arrow Rock State Historic Site has 47 campsites available year-round for both tents and RVs with basic hookups and one with full hookups. There are also several spots that are handicapped accessible. Reservations can be made from April 1st until October 31st. Potable H20 stations are available throughout the campground from April until October.
All sites are accessed through the main road, and there are several grassy areas, picnic areas, and a playground close-by. Also, you will find two shower houses, flush toilets, a woodlot, a vault toilet, and a dump station for RVs near the check-in station. There is also a shower house at the front loop where the tent sites are. Generators can be used except during quiet hours, and each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and pad.
The park ranger will assign any unreserved campsites to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. However, reservations are recommended.
The special-use campsite area is reservation only for group camping. This secluded area has three fire pits, four picnic tables, and a large area for multiple tents and RVs. The water access and restrooms are 250 yards from the camp. The capacity at the special-use campground is limited to 30 campers.
Fishing in Big Soldier Lake is excellent for all anglers as long as you have a Missouri fishing license. The lake was built in 1930 as a shallow stock pond and it was renovated and deepened to 18 feet deep in 1989. In 1995, they provided special access for people with disabilities, and a parking lot was built for those who want to drive there rather than walk from their camp. Although, there are limited spots for RVs and trailers in the small lot. You can find bass, catfish, crappie, and even some carp in this 4-acre lake, which is stocked and cared for by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
You will want to park the RV and get out into the forest to enjoy the Missouri woods and wildflowers that abound on the Pierre a Fleche’ (Rock of Arrows) Trail. This is a nearly two-mile loop trail that starts by the parking lot at the park entrance and meanders along the outer ring of the park past Big Soldier Lake and around the special camping area. Then it takes you to the scenic overlook where you can see for miles down the Missouri River before heading back to the trailhead.
If you want to learn more about the park's natural and cultural history park your rig at the Arrow Rock State Historic Site Visitor Center. You can watch an introduction video where you will get the inside scoop on the area's founding. You can explore 9,000-square-feet of exhibits ranging from the original Native American tribes of this region to the frontier days of Boone's Lick Country to 20th-century issues. Plus, this is a great place to beat the summer heat.
When you eat at the J. Huston Tavern at Arrow Rock State Historic Site, you will feel like you stepped back in time. Joseph Huston was an early settler at Arrow Rock who built the tavern in 1834. It was initially the Huston home, and they served thousands of immigrants who were passing through. From June through October, you can visit them Wednesday through Sunday, but from March to December they are only open Friday through Sunday. Try their famous fried chicken while you enjoy the old-time ambiance. And there’s usually plenty of room to park the camper or trailer in the lot.
When it’s cold outside, you may not want to spend too much time outdoors in Missouri so take the historic landmark tour at Arrow Rock State Historic Site to explore the past. In 1829, a town was formally started, although it was known as New Philadelphia back then. The site has several old buildings like the home of famous artist George Caleb Bingham, the old courthouse, the Academy Boarding House, Dr. Mathew Hall’s House, and the stone jail known as the calaboose. You can also visit the visitor center and museum to learn more about the area.
Every fall, in October, the City of Arrow Rock holds their Annual Heritage Festival at the Arrow Rock State Historic Site. This is one of Missouri’s oldest and most popular heritage festivals and features modern and traditional handcrafted items, food vendors, musical entertainment, living history presenters, and historical reenactments. No matter whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or an art extraordinaire, there is something for everyone at the festival. You can even find some old-time furnishings and decorations for your RV or camper.