Lake of the Ozarks State Park has over 17,000 acres of natural park to explore and enjoy with 186 campsites, two beaches, Ozark Caverns, and so much more. If you like to hike, this park is perfect because it has 56 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails for beginners as well as experts. Hook the trailer up to the RV and bring your boat because the 17,626-acre Lake of the Ozarks has two marinas with several boat ramps for your convenience. If you don’t have a boat, don’t worry because you can rent one from one of the marinas. The lake is a popular fishing lake and even hosts many bass fishing tournaments so you should not have any trouble catching something.
The park was established in the 1930s by the National Park Service and then given to the state in 1946. You can find many stone ditch dams, rustic bridges, and log buildings that date back quite a ways. In fact, many of the park buildings and features are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Conveniently located in central Missouri just outside of Osage Beach, it is a short trip from either St. Louis or Kansas City. Whether you are coming for the fishing, swimming, camping, or just to relax, Lake of the Ozarks State Park is perfect for you with plenty of room for any size motorhome or campervan.
Getting to Lake of the Ozarks from anywhere in the country is easy since it is smackdab in the middle of the country. In fact, it is also in the middle of Missouri, so it is just a short drive from Kansas City, St. Louis, or Springfield. This popular park is very well marked, and there is signage everywhere so do not worry about getting lost. This is one of the biggest hotspots in the state so you can stop and get directions from just about anyone. In Osage Beach, Missouri off of highway 44, you will have to navigate some winding roads, but they are typically well taken care of so you can get through no matter how large your rig is.
The park is huge, and some of the smaller roads are known to be tricky for large RVs and motorhomes. Low-hanging branches and gravel roads make it difficult if you do not slow down and take it easy. The smartest thing to do is reserve a campsite in campground section one where the larger rig access spots are. Park the RV and use your feet, car, or bicycle to get around, so you don’t have to worry about scratching up your rig.
At the Lake of the Ozarks State Park, you will find 124 campsites with electric hookups and 58 rustic or primitive campsites. There are both pull-through and back-in sites for your convenience. Some sections of the campground are just a few feet from the lake while others are in the woods where it is more secluded. If you're driving a large motorhome or rig, check out section one because they have the larger spaces up to 86 feet long and level. All the sites include a fire ring, picnic table, and tent pad and each section has several modern restrooms as well as vault toilets, showers with hot water, playgrounds, a dump station, and water access. There is also a woodlot where you can chop up some wood for your campsite and a store with plenty of supplies. You can also find laundry facilities nearby so you can clean all the sand out of your clothes.
Many people think that fishing is only good in the warmer months, but at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, winter and fall fishing is just as good. In fact, sometimes it is even better, depending on what you are fishing for. Bank fishing with jerk baits is suggested for bass and crappie while you can get out on the boat and fish t the lower end of the lake where the water is clear and warmer. Jigs and jerk baits are excellent here as well, and the most productive spots are bluff ends, secondary points, and channel banks. Make sure you pack your fishing gear in the motorhome before you head out.
Be sure to hook up the horse trailer to the big rig so you can enjoy some of the most stunning equestrian trails in the Midwest. From forested bottomland where you can see waterfowl, raptors, and other critters to oak ridges high on the Ozark bluffs where you have panoramic views of the lake and surrounding forest. Hidden Springs Trail is a fantastic place to see a historic cemetery as well as several other historic spots. This two-and-a-half-mile trail is excellent for any equestrian rider.
There are 12 different hiking paths in the park that range from a quarter mile to just over 13 miles. One of the most popular is the Coakley Hollow Loop Trail, which is just under one mile long and offers gorgeous views of the wooded wonderland of the Ozarks. This is a short and easy trail with lots of different terrain. The nearly two-mile Lakeview Trail is also popular, especially for those who enjoy seeing waterfowl and other critters that abound in the off-season here. Make sure you dress warm because it can drop below freezing in Missouri during the winter, but you can get toasty warm back in your RV afterward.
From Memorial Day until Labor Day, the park has scheduled evening programs in the amphitheater close to campground section three. Some of the topics of interest include the cultural history and resources in the park, flora and fauna in the ecosystems, and the management and diversity or the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the park. During the summer, the park also hosts guided hikes and other programs throughout the park’s natural areas. Check the park bulletin or ask a park naturalist for more details. Leave your RV behind and get out and enjoy some nature.
Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit and leave some room in the rig for your water toys because Lake of the Ozarks State Park has two public beaches. They both offer a large sandy beach with concession stands, restrooms and changing facilities, a playground for the kids, and plenty of sun and fun. However, there are no lifeguards. You can even reserve a shelter for a group picnic. Pack your whole family in the RV and head to one of the beaches right now.
From mid-May until mid-September, you can enjoy an interpretive tour of Ozark Caverns. The tour is about a half of a mile, takes about an hour, and the tour guide will tell you about the cave development, formation, and about the different species of critters in the caves. There are 16 types of invertebrates, four species of bats, and four types of salamanders living in the cave that you can look for. They also do a shorter tour for kids that is about a quarter of a mile long and lasts about 45 minutes. Park the RV at the campsite and walk on over to the caverns for a tour.