In Wayne County, Missouri, just a couple of hours from St. Louis, you can find the beautiful 1,854-acre Lake Wappapello State Park. This awesome natural space is a fantastic place to spend the day, the weekend, or a week because there is so much to do, you need plenty of time to do it all. The amazing scenery of the Missouri bluffs and the peaceful beauty of the 8,400-acre Lake Wappapello makes this park worth the drive no matter where you are coming from, but it is certainly close enough to the city to spend the day and make it home by dark, if needed.
The park was created in 1938 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dam to control floods on the St. Francis River. The land that was once home to pioneers and Indians is still a natural wonder where you can see the Ozark Mountains and prairies with vibrantly colored wildflowers and majestic oaks and pines while enjoying WiFi and wakeboarding. You can find two campgrounds with 74 modern campsites that have hot showers, laundry facilities, and some with electric. And if you like hiking, biking, or horseback riding, there are over 20 miles of trails for you to explore. No matter what brings you to Missouri in your rig, Lake Wappapello State Park is a perfect RV camping destination.
Only two hours from St. Louis down Interstate 55 to Highway 67, you will find Lake Wappapello State Park, which is in the small town of Williamsville, a few miles from Greenville, Missouri. If you are coming from Kansas City, the six-hour drive down Interstate 44 is broken up by scenic views of the Ozark Mountains and the beauty of southern Missouri. No matter where you are coming from, if you are in a large motorhome or pulling a trailer you will need to take it slow and easy once you get off the highway and onto Missouri 172 because the roads can be tricky.
You should also keep an eye out for deer and other wild critters that sometimes wander onto the road. Keep your camera handy because you will likely see some of these critters in the woods along the road as well. The roads inside Lake Wappapello State Park are well-maintained but you should still watch out for low hanging branches and potholes. Parking the rig at the campsite and walking or riding a bike around the park is the best idea as long as you are not going too far. However, when using the boat launches, there is plenty of room in the parking lot for your RV as well as your trailer.
Asher Creek Campground has 15 campsites on the ridge with most of them along the lake. The driveways range from 35 to 79 feet in length, so you have plenty of options for your motorhome or trailer. Also, 12 of these have electric while the other three are basic. All the sites have a lantern hanger, fire pit, and picnic table. There are three boat launches in the campground by campsite 73, cabin eight, and the day use area by the bath house. In addition, there is a huge parking lot that can accommodate any size rig and trailer. You will also find a shower with hot water, flush toilets with running water, a laundry facility, and RV dump site. There are several locations that have frost-free water spigots so you can get water all year long. Pets are allowed as long as they are restrained or on a leash at all times.
Ridge Campground has 55 campsites that are open all year long and accept reservations from April until October. The driveways range from 35 to 87 feet long so you should have no trouble parking your RV or camper no matter how large it is. This campground is on a peninsula that juts right out onto Lake Wappapello so you can guarantee a nice lakeside view no matter which site you get. Each spacious campsite also has a grill, picnic table, and lantern hanger. In addition, there are hot showers, flush toilets with running water, laundry facilities, and a playground right up the road. The RV dump site is nearby and there are several locations that have frost-free water spigots so you can get water all year long. Pets are allowed as long as they are restrained or on a leash at all times.
First-come, first-served sites are available but it is important that you check with the camp host or a park employee. These sites are available to first-come, first-served users on a day-to-day basis if it is not already reserved. If you cannot locate a park employee, follow the instructions on the vacancy card on the post by the campsite.
If you brought your horses with you, the park has an equestrian trail called the Lake Wappapello Trail. It is a rugged and difficult 12.75-mile loop hike that takes you through the thick forest with views of the shoreline, prairies of grassland, and the Ozark hillsides. You will likely see some of the cold-weather loving critters like rabbits, white-tail deer, and foxes. There is an equestrian parking section off highway 172 where there is enough room to park your trailer, but you should leave your RV or motorhome back at the campsite if you can.
There are five different trails of varying difficulties from easy to difficult so leave the rig at your campsite and get out and explore. The Allison Cemetery Trail is a 2.6-mile loop trail that is of moderate difficulty and takes you through the forest, up a steep ridge, and by the cemetery. The Lake View Trail is a short and easy hike of less than one mile, meandering along the banks of the lake. You can see shorebirds and other waterfowl as well as raptors like eagles and hawks that dip down into the lake for fish.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Lake Wappapello has excellent fishing opportunities no matter whether you are fishing from the bank or from a boat. The crappie are large, with over one-quarter of them being at least nine inches or bigger and the bass are typically between 15 and 18 inches. Catfish are abundant and range from 10 to 30 pounds on average. Whether you are using worms, cut bait, or lures, you should be able to catch something worthwhile so make sure you pack your net in the camper before heading to the lake.
With a lake this big, you have to get out there and go swimming. There is a swimming beach at the Allison Cove Day Use Area that is open from mid-May until mid-September where you can splish and splash from 7AM until sunset every day. There is no lifeguard so you will be swimming at your own risk. Park the RV at the campsite and hike down to the beach for the day before heading back to spend the evening around the campfire.
Be sure you hook the boat trailer up to the campervan so you can get out on the lake during your trip. You can launch your boat from any one of the three boat launches on Lake Wappapello, whether it is a small kayak or a huge party boat. These launches are at the Asher Creek Campground at the day use areas on Marina Road, near cabin number eight, and near the picnic shelter and bath house. The 8,400-acre lake has enough room to enjoy skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing.
You don’t need a river to go floating! Go ahead and pack your rafts and inner tubes in the camper so you can enjoy some floating on the lake. Just get out there on the lake and float your day away while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding Ozark Mountains and bluffs. Bring a fishing pole out there with you and catch some dinner while you are at it. The folks back at your campsite will thank you for it later.