Big Lake State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Big Lake State Park is an aquatic retreat located in the northwestern corner of Missouri. The lake has some of the best fishing in the area, with species such as carp, crappie, catfish, and bass. You can also explore Big Lake via kayak or canoe. If you don’t bring a boat along with your campervan, you can rent one from the park office.

The park is also next to the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, with over 7,000 acres of land that’s perfect for wildlife viewing. There is 12.5-mile self guided tour that as well as viewing platforms that lets you watch migrating waterfowl. There are over 100 species of birds that visit the park throughout the year, making it a great spot for RV campers who love birdwatching.

The year round campground has over 75 sites, almost all of them featuring electrical hookups. The campground is located next to the lake, with many of the sites found directly on the water. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a week long lake retreat, there’s always something to do out on the water at Big Lake State Park.

RV Rentals in Big Lake State Park

Transportation in Big Lake State Park

Driving

Big Lake State Park is located in northwestern Missouri, and is close to both Kansas City and Omaha. The park only has one main road, making it easy to get straight to your campsite.

If you are driving from Kansas City, take I-29 north from the city and you will get to the park in around an hour and a half. From Omaha, take I-29 south and you will get to the park in around an hour and 45 minutes. If you are coming from St. Louis, take I-70 and I-29 and you will arrive at the park in a little over five hours.

Once you’re near the park, take Lake Shore Drive to State Park Road, the main road that leads through the park. The road is fairly wide, so larger rigs shouldn’t have any issues. Weather stays above freezing most of the year, but do take caution if you visit the park during the winter. The roads get some occasional ice, so take your time when driving after a winter storm.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Big Lake State Park

Campsites in Big Lake State Park

Reservations camping

Big Lake State Park Campground

There are 71 sites at the campground found within the park, 59 of which have electrical hookups. The sites are a mix of gravel and paved pads. All of the sites have picnic tables. You’ll be within walking distance of a shower house, restrooms, drinking water access point, and dump station.

The campground is located on the shores of Big Lake, with many of the sites located directly on the water. You’ll be close to the boat launch, as well as a quick walk from the swimming pool, picnic shelter, and park office.

All of the sites can be booked online up to seven months in advance. Try to book as soon as possible if you plan on a visiting during the summer, as spots fill up quickly months in advance.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

From November through March, sites are first-come, first-served.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Big Lake State Park

In-Season

Swimming

Big Lake State Park also has a large swimming pool, in case you want to cool off after a day of fishing. The pool has a changehouse, as well as hot showers. It’s also near the day use area of the park, where you’ll find a playground and a number of picnic sites.

The pool is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day. You can rent the pool area if you call the park office in advance.

Fishing

The park is also a popular fishing spot. You’ll find a variety of fish species in the waters, including carp, crappie, bass, and catfish. You can also get weekly fishing reports on from the Missouri Department of Conservation, if you want to know about water conditions before your trip to the park.

Big Lake has many areas with shallow waters, which are a favorite gathering place for catfish. Fish from the shore and you’ll still get plenty of bites. You can also take your boat out onto the lake with the large boat launch.

Boating

Big Lake is a popular summertime boating retreat. The lake, the largest oxbow lake in the state, is great for canoeing and kayaking. If you visit the park during spring or fall, you can boat on the lake and watch as waterfowl rest as they migrate.

The park also rents two and three person canoes, as well as kayaks, in case you don’t want to bring your own boat. There is also a boat launch that makes it easy to quickly get out onto the lake. The park does not allow motorized boats.

Off-Season

Picnic Shelter

If you want to host a group gathering in the park, you can rent out the picnic shelter. The shelter can accommodate up to 75 people, and has electricity as well as a grilling area. There is also a nearby playground, as well as outdoor picnic sites.

The shelter can be reserved in advance by calling the park office. However, if the shelter has not been reserved, you can use it on a first come, first served basis once you get to the park.

Photography

The shoreline of Big Lake is also a great destination for RV campers interested in photography. You’ll find an abundance of wildlife near the lake, including a wide range of waterfowl species. You’ll also see false map turtles, Midland smooth shelled turtles

There is also a large wetland area in the park. At 300 acres, it’s one of the biggest marsh areas in the state. If you visit during spring or fall, you can catch the waterfowl, such as American white pelicans, as they migrate.

Birdwatching

The shallow waters of Big Lake create the perfect home for a number of aquatic bird species, as well as migrating waterfowl. The birdwatching is best in spring or in fall, when you can catch dozens of bird species as they migrate north or south. You can also spot wintering bald eagles as they hunt near the lake.

The park provides a bird checklist of the species found in the park on their website. You can also check the websites of local audubon societies, many of which produce field guides that highlight the birds found in the park.

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