Whether you want to catch some trophy trout, hike in the beautiful Missouri woods, or take your canoe or raft out on the river, you can find a plethora of things to do at Bennett Spring State Park in southwestern Missouri. Pack up the RV and don’t forget the pets because they are welcome too. More than 100 million gallons of water pass through Bennett Spring each day, making way for a sparkling clear fishing spot for trout enthusiasts. Both rainbow and brown trout abound in this park all year round, and it is one of the state’s most popular trout parks.
But there is more to do than just fish for trout at Bennett Springs State Park. They have 12 miles of hiking trails from easy to difficult, campsites with room for your RV or trailer, a dining lodge, store, nature center, and so much more. In fact, over 750,000 park goers visit each year and explore some of the natural beauty of the 3,216 acres of land and miles of Niangua River where it meets Bennett Spring. You and your family can choose from almost 200 campsites in five different campgrounds to park your rig and enjoy the sights and sounds of the wildlife in rural Missouri while you get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Bennett Spring State Park is easy to get to whether you are in your campervan, RV, or car, because it is just 12 miles from Lebanon off highway 64 to the south, off highway 32 to the west, and off highway 65 to the north. Whether you are coming in from St. Louis, Kansas City, or any other area, the country roads leading into the park can be steep and curvy so use caution if you are driving a large rig.
There are a few parking lots in the park that are spacious enough to park a trailer or RV but if you are just wanting to visit one of the park’s amenities like the nature center, store, playground, or shower station, you can leave your rig at the campsite and walk. If you are headed to the river or spring to fish, swim, or sunbathe, you may want to park in the parking and boat dock area, which can accommodate a large rig.
With close to 200 campsites in five different campgrounds, you will have a large variety of choices on where to camp whether you have an RV, trailer, or campervan. They all have a picnic table, campfire ring, and parking for your vehicle and rig. Most of the sites are close enough to the river and spring to walk and there are showers, restrooms, and dump sites close to each campground with laundry facilities at campgrounds three and four.
Open year-round, Campground 1 offers full hookups for your rig, as well as a woodlot to chop and collect firewood, dump station for your RV, and an extra-large parking lot for visitors. For your convenience, they also offer potable water access, a shower house with hot showers, restrooms, and handicapped access as well. There are 48 campsites with 26 of them being pull-through sites.
Campground 2 is open April through October and includes electric. There are four family campsites, one pull-through site, and 15 basic sites with potable water access, extra parking, and a playground for the kids. There is also handicapped access here.
Campground 3 is also open April through October and includes 19 basic sites with electric hookups. There is potable water access, restrooms, a shower house, and laundry facilities. There is also extra parking and handicapped access.
Campground 4 has 48 basic electric sites open from February until October. You will find potable water, showers, restrooms, extra parking, and a laundry facility there.
Campground 5 is first-come, first-served. It includes 51 campsites; 47 of them have electricity while the other four are basic sites with no hookups. There are several potable water access areas, a shower house with hot showers, restrooms with flush toilets, and handicapped access. There is also a trash dumpster where you can get rid of any excess trash you may have accumulated.
Bennett Springs State Park is a fantastic place to ride your bike so make sure you attach it to your RV or trailer before you head out. There are seven different trails, as well as several roads inside the park that you can ride on to see some of the gorgeous scenery that Missouri is so famous for. Bike down to the river and watch the waterfowl and other critters or just relax and enjoy the view.
Whether you want to swim in the river, wade in the spring, or enjoy the Olympic-sized public swimming pool, you can take your pick. The pool is located between campgrounds one and three close to the park office, store, and motel. The pool is open from Memorial Day until mid-August every summer. There are lifeguards on duty and there is even a wading pool for the little ones. Swimming in the river is not supervised so life jackets are recommended.
The rivers in Missouri are famous for their floating and the Niangua River at Bennett Spring State Park is a fantastic floating opportunity. Whether you have your own canoe or raft or want to rent one, you can enjoy this stretch of river any day of the week. You can join an organized float trip, rent a canoe at the park store, or just grab your own floatation device from your RV and head down the river on your own.
As one of the top trout parks in the Midwest, Bennett Spring State Park is a fantastic place to toss out your line and catch a trophy trout. Daily trout tags are required and there are three zones with different rules and regulations so be sure to check with the rangers, park host, or one of the employees at the park store before heading out. If you have heavier tackle in your rig for river fishing, the Niangua has a variety of species such as Bass, Sunfish, Bluegill, Catfish, and even crawfish.
If you are in Missouri, you have to get out of the RV and into the woods no matter what time of year it is. At Bennett Spring State Park, you will find seven trails of varying lengths and difficulty.
The Bluff Trail is a quarter mile and is an easy trek in the bluffs but there is a bit of a climb so make sure you have your hiking shoes on. The Oak Hickory Trail is a half-mile loop trail with an elevation of 59 feet and is right by the Nature Center. The Whistle Trail is a half-mile loop trail that meanders along the spring to the river.
The Spring Trail will take you for half-mile along the spring from the cabins to the Nature Center. The Forest Bridge Trail is almost a mile of natural path from the Bluff Trail to the Amphitheater. The Savanna Ridge Trail is three miles in the deciduous forest and the Natural Tunnel Trail is a seven-mile round trip trail through a 300-foot long natural tunnel.
The Bennett Spring Nature Center has a plethora of various activities and programs both self-guided or guided by a nature center employee. Guided nature walks and school programs are also available as well as interpretive programs. They even have fishing classes for children and adults. Exhibits and artifacts featuring historical information about the area include a naturalist-guided tour for your enjoyment. The air-conditioned store is also nearby with groceries and other supplies you may need for your rig.