Echo Bluff State Park is a beautiful, modern park situated between the towns of Salem and Eminence in Missouri. Forty of the 60 RV campsites at this park have full hookup capabilities, and the other 20 have both water and sewer hookups. Along with the spacious, well-maintained campsites, large enough for most campervans and trailers, there are also walk-in tent sites with raised platforms, fully-equipped cabins, and a full-service lodge equipped with all the amenities. A large playground with group swings and a splash pad area graces the property, as well as an amphitheater where programs, concerts, and other events are held.
It was built on the site of a well-loved youth camp by the name of Camp Zoe, and many of the buildings from Camp Zoe, such as the small stone lodge and the old stable. Amicable wild horses wander through the campground and lodge area, and visitors can cool off by splashing in Sinking Creek, a crystal clear stream in the shadow of Echo Bluff. There are many trails suitable for hiking or bicycling that meander through the park, giving guests plenty of opportunities to soak in the natural beauty of the area, as well as free wi-fi throughout the lodge and campsite areas.
Echo Bluff State Park is situated just 15 miles north of Eminence, MO and 40 miles south of Salem, MO. The road to the park, Highway 19, has a lot of curves and hills and can get quite windy at times. There is very little in the way of a shoulder along this highway, and the trip can be a bit of a challenge for bigger campers. It is best to take your time when driving, particularly during times of inclement weather like rain or snow. Not only is the road challenging, but there is a great deal of wildlife in this area, such as deer, elk, and wild horses, which may unexpectedly cross your path.
Driving within this modern park is a breeze, however. While wildlife, especially wild horses, are still likely to cross in front of you, and there are playing children and other pedestrians to keep an eye out for, the roads are paved and well-marked. There are also plenty of paved parking lots to be found throughout the park, particularly near the lodge.
There are 60 RV sites available for reservation at Echo Bluff State Park. Forty of these sites have full hookup capabilities, while the remaining 20 having water and electricity, but no sewer services. Water hookups are not active during the winter months, between November and March, but there are a few frost free spigots during those months so you can have potable water. The shower house with restrooms are available year-round. Firewood is available onsite for purchase, but only for a few hours per day, generally in the evening. All sites are equipped with large concrete pads, a fire ring, and a picnic table. Check-in for the campground is 3 PM and check out is 2 PM and those who do not have reservations are welcome to rent any site that is empty and not reserved by 3 PM.
The campsites are fairly close together, but not unreasonably so. It can get hot in the summertime as the RV area is not particularly well shaded and a good awning will get a great deal of use. The park can be visited by rather forceful winds on occasion, however, and your awning should be pulled in if the winds pick up or if you are leaving your trailer unattended for any length of time. The lodge that is located in the park offers laundry facilities if you are needing to freshen up your wardrobe and there is a large playground near the lodge as well, with swings, tunnels, and a small splash zone with water fountains. Up to two pets can share your campsite with you, but they must be kept on a ten-foot or shorter lead or in your trailer and should never be unattended.
If you are a fan of bird-watching, you will want to be sure to pack your binoculars. There are many different types of birds that live or migrate through the state park. Herons and geese can be found near the water and a variety of songbirds, including several species of swallows, warblers, and wrens. Birds of prey are also fond of the park; you may see hawks, vultures, and even a Bald Eagle or two hunting during the daytime hours and if you wait until after dark you may be lucky enough to spot stealthy owls searching for a meal as well.
Geocaching is a popular activity with RVers in which GPS and cellphone technology are utilized to connect people in a worldwide scavenger hunt. Caches can be found hidden in many spots worldwide and contain a logbook or log sheet for people to sign once they have located the container. Some geocaches also contain small trinkets or prizes, which searchers can exchange with their own trinkets, and others contain trackable tokens which can be relocated to caches in new locations. If you are wanting to place a cache for others to find, it is important to get a permit before hiding it and to ensure that all contents of the cache are family friendly.
The wilderness around the campground has long been home to many different types of wildlife. You may spot animals like chipmunks, elk, squirrels, and raccoons while traveling hiking and biking trails. A herd of wild horses has long made this area their home for more than 100 years and can often be seen walking right into the campground and even up to the lodge. The horses have been visiting so often that they are becoming accustomed to people. The horses tend to be amicable towards both people and their pets, but it is important to remember that these are still wild animals. While watching the horses and taking their photographs is perfectly acceptable a safe distance should be maintained, and petting or feeding them is not allowed.
The amphitheater at Echo Bluff State Park has a beautiful and dramatic natural background and comfortable tiered seating. It hosts many different events during the summer, particularly on the weekends. Educational programs about nature and wildlife in the area cover creatures from frogs to bears and musical exhibitions and concerts are often held at this venue. Even local cooking demonstrations have been conducted at this site. Brochures and calendars outlining which events are available for viewing can be found at the Lodge.
Sinking Creek is just a few steps from the back of the park’s lodge, the Betty Lea Lodge, so you may want to make sure that your water shoes and towel are in your campervan. The crystal clear creek passes right by the Echo Bluff that the park was named for, and provides an opportunity to cool off during the heat of summer. The crystal clear creek passes right by the Echo Bluff that the park was named for, and is a popular place for visitors to explore. It has shallow areas perfect for wading as well as a few spots deep enough to swim and even snorkel.
There are many opportunities for both hiking and biking in Echo Bluff State Park. There are over two miles of concrete pathways within the main portion of the park and over four miles of hiking and dirt biking available just a little to the east of the campground itself, on the other side of Sinking Creek. The eight-mile Current River Trail also runs through the area, connecting it to the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry and Current River State Park. Dogs on a ten-foot or shorter lead are allowed on the trails, but in order to protect the ecosystem, it is essential to keep them under your control and clean up after them.