With a name like Lewis and Clark State Park, you know it has some history, and this one really does. In fact, it was William Clark himself that described the area by the lake as full of geese and goslings in 1904. At the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, when Lewis and Clark discovered the lake, they named it Gosling Lake. This beautiful 621-acre greenspace in the northwestern corner of Missouri has 1.3 miles of trails and is on the south shore of the 365-acre Lewis and Clark Lake. Besides geese, you can also find a large variety of other wild critters at the park including white-tail deer, foxes, coyotes, and hundreds of species of birds and waterfowl.
Although Lewis and Clark did not have an RV or trailer back when they discovered the park, the park is set up to be RV-friendly with well-cared for and paved roads and campsites with driveways from 26 to 96 feet long, both drive-through and back in. Whether you are interested in RV camping, boating, hiking, picnicking, or fishing, you can find it all at Lewis and Clark State Park. In addition, the lake has interpretive programs as well, held at the visitor center during the summer months.
Just four hours from St. Louis and minutes from Kansas City, Lewis and Clark State Park in Rushville, Missouri is an easy shot down Highway 70. Once you get off the highway in Kansas City, you will be following MO-273 north to the park entrance on MO-138. Some of the areas of MO-273 and MO-138 can be tricky if you are driving a big rig or pulling a camper or trailer. However, if you take your time you will be fine. Just keep an eye out and your camera handy for those wild critters that sometimes run out on the road.
The roads inside the park are well-groomed, and you should not have any issues getting to your campsite no matter how large your rig or camper. However, it is best to leave it parked once you get there and walk or ride a bike around the park wherever you want to go. If you do need to drive your rig around the park, just watch out for low-hanging tree branches and potholes. There is a plethora of walnut trees, sycamores, and oaks along the roads so just take it slow and easy.
Lewis and Clark State Park has 54 campsites; 47 with electric and seven basic. These roomy and level campsites offer both electric or basic with a pull-through or back-in driveway with up to 96 feet of space for even the largest RV. On the western side of the campground you will find extra parking for overflow, a shower house with hot water, laundry facilities, and a restroom with running water. There is a woodlot at the southern end of the campground by the Gosling Lake trailhead and you can find water access and vault toilets in several areas around the campground. The RV dump site and trash dumpster are at the exit of the campgrounds and there is a playground in the middle for the kids. You can get frost-free water during the off-season (November-April) at the park’s maintenance building. Several of the sites are ADA accessible and your dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed.
First-come, first-served sites are available but this is at the discretion of the park ranger or camp host. Before you set up on a site, check with the park staff or follow the directions on the posted directions.
There is no shortage of beautiful and magnificent scenery to take pictures of at Lewis and Clark State Park. Whether you are interested in taking shots of wildlife, flowers or greenery, waterfowl, or the educational information sections of the park, you will have all those options and more. Pack your camera and warm clothes so you can get out of the campervan and get some pics of the natural beauty of Missouri. They don’t call it the “Show-Me State” for nothing!
The Gosling Lake Trail in Lewis and Clark State Park is an easy, fun, and educational 1.3-mile path that starts at the southern end of the campground and meanders along the shoreline of Lewis and Clark Lake. There are several technical features along the way, and you will likely see plenty of wild critters wandering around. You can choose to loop back to the beginning of the trail or take the trail spur at the halfway point of the loop, which has interpretive panels and cultural features about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Leave the RV back at the campsite and head out for an educational walk.
As Lewis and Clark pointed out back in 1904, there are a large number of goose species and other waterfowl at this park. You may even see some trumpeter swans or bufflehead ducks on or near the lake. Meandering around the perimeter of the lake you should be able to spot quite a few different types of birds including some raptors like the bald eagle or peregrine falcon. Take a walk in the woods or through the meadows and you will likely see blue jays, cardinals, and many kinds of woodpeckers. Don’t forget to include your camera and binoculars when you are packing the campervan or RV.
Whether you have a big pontoon boat, or a small kayak, Lewis and Clark State Park has 365 acres of water space to enjoy with the family. From tubing to wakeboarding to just enjoying the sunshine on a beautiful lake, this is a great place to spend the day. Fishing spots are endless and there are some hidey-holes where you can catch some lunkers. Hook up your boat trailer to your RV and don’t forget the beach toys.
Whether you just want to have a small meal with your family or a big get-together with a large group, Lewis and Clark State Park has what you need. There are dozens of picnic tables with grills scattered along Lewis and Clark Lake so you can have a meal with your family while you enjoy the scenery. You can even do some fishing and throw your catch on the BBQ grill for dinner. For a larger group, the picnic shelter holds about 50-75 people and has water, restrooms, and electricity. There is also a nice large playground nearby for the kids. Pack the family in the rig and head to the park for some fun in the sun.
Be sure to pack your fishing gear in the rig before you go. The shallow areas of Lewis and Clark Lake are excellent fishing spots for carp and buffalo as well as crappie, bluegill, and sunfish. Use a spinner bait or other lure out further in the lake and you could pull in a trophy bass. Use a heavy weight and some cut bait or worms to catch a channel or blue catfish that have been known to reach up to 40 pounds. Make sure you get a Missouri fishing license before throwing out your line or you could get a hefty fine.