Honoring the life and times of American agricultural scientist and inventor George Washington Carver, the George Washington Carver National Monument in Missouri is a must-see for RV travelers interested in the history of agriculture. The monument was officially founded in 1943 by President Roosevelt after he dedicated the sum of $30,000 to help with the costs of opening it. The George Washington Carver National Monument also holds a special place in American history as being the first National Monument dedicated to an African American and it was also the first to be created for a non-president.
George Washington Carver was famously known for studying and encouraging alternative crops to cotton that could be grown by poor farmers to increase their quality of life, such as sweet potatoes and peanuts. This was done by developing techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated cotton planting, like restoring nitrogen to the by soil doing systematic crop rotation. The rotations restored the nitrogen, delivered food for the farmer, and resulted in improved cotton yields for the next season. Carver also developed an agricultural extension program for Alabama and widely distributed recipes using the alternative crops so that poor farmers could eat healthier. Along with helping farmers, he was also known for his environmentalism and teaching at the Tuskegee Institute for 47 years.
The George Washington Carver National Monument pays tribute to his remarkable life by preserving his boyhood home, the 1881 Moses Carver house and the Carver cemetery. The 240-acre area also features educational elements, including a museum, interactive exhibit area and film. For those wanting to explore the rolling hills of the monument you can also check out a nature trail that is around three quarters of a mile in length.
There is no RV camping available on the grounds of the monument but you won't have to travel too far to find a place to stay. There's the Joplin KOA Journey in the nearby city of Joplin which is open all year round. George Washington Carver National Monument is open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
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Transportation in George Washington Carver National Monument
Getting to and from George Washington Carver National Monument is fairly easy thanks to its location in Diamond, Missouri. The park is accessible from the north, south, east and west but the most popular way is either from the MO-59 or the I-49.
There are many small towns located nearby that will have all of the supplies and amenities you will need to enjoy your day at the monument. These include Diamond (around three miles away), Granby (around 11 miles away) and Neosho (around 13 miles away). The closest city to the park is Joplin, which is around 16 miles to the northwest.
The roads in and around the monument are kept in great condition and there are no obstacles that would prove difficult to navigate. During the winter time it can snow in and around the area so it's a good idea to call ahead and make sure that the roads will be open and ice-free if you are visiting in the off-season.
There is plenty of parking available at George Washington Carver National Monument and the parking lot is large enough to fit big RV rigs.
There are no public transport options that will take you to George Washington Carver National Monument.
Campgrounds and parking in George Washington Carver National Monument
Campsites in George Washington Carver National Monument
Joplin KOA Journey
There are is no RV camping allowed at the George Washington Carver National Monument but if you are looking for a place to stay, make the short drive to Joplin and choose the Joplin KOA Journey. This campground is conveniently located and you have the choice of sites that are under shady mature oak trees or those that are clear with great open skies perfect for satellite TV.
The sites vary between having 30/50-amp electric hookups, full-hookups and cable TV on select few sites. Other campground amenities include restrooms, laundry facilities, picnic area, a pool, and fish/turtle feeding pond. You should also get cell phone reception on all major services and you can bring pets to the campground.
If you do plan to stay at the Joplin KOA Journey Campground consider making a reservation early as the sites regularly fill up. Joplin KOA Journey is open all year round.
Seasonal activities in George Washington Carver National Monument
If you love to picnic you will be happy to know that there are some great picnic facilities available for visitors to George Washington Carver National Monument. The picnic area is equipped with some fantastic amenities, including eight accessible picnic tables under shady trees, a drinking fountain, recycling station, and accessible parking.
None of the tables can be reserved, so if you are planning on having a large group, try to arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Carver Day Celebration
Each year during the month of July there is a day set aside to celebrate the anniversary of the George Washington Carver National Monument. On this day there are plenty of special features like guest speakers, musical groups, and a junior ranger station that will add to the special day.
If you want to plan your trip around the Carver Day Celebration check out the official website to make sure you will be at the monument on the right day.
The Visitor Center at the George Washington Carver National Monument should be the first place to stop once you get to the monument. The Visitor Center is full of great information, including a museum, interactive exhibits about history and science, classrooms for programs on Carver’s life, an observation deck, a historical film, and a bookstore. The Visitor Center is open daily from 9AM to 5PM except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
Carver Nature Trail
The Carver Nature Trail is the main attraction to visitors who make it to the George Washington Carver National Monument. The trail is just under a mile long (three quarters of a mile to be exact) and along it you will find all of the main features that make the monument special.
Since the trail is quite short you can take your time perusing the grounds as you walk across a trail that varies between a boardwalk, compacted aggregate, and asphalt surface. This walk would be suited to most ability levels and there are benches if you need a break.
If you are looking to learn as much as possible about George Washington Carver, you can't beat going on a guided tour of the monument. These tours are offered daily for free at both 10AM and 2PM and last around an hour and fifteen minutes. The tour will take you along The Carver Trail where you can check out the historic 1881 Moses Carver House, the Boy Carver statue, and the Carver Family Cemetery.
If you get tired there are benches along the way where you can rest.
Pre-Civil War Cemetery
One of the more hidden gems of the George Washington Carver National Monument is the Pre-Civil War Cemetery. Located along the Carver Trail, the cemetery contains the remains of Moses and Susan Carver along with other family members and those in the community who called Diamond Grove home.
When visiting the cemetery make sure that you are respecting those that are buried and keeping off the plots and very old gravestones.