Mark Twain State Park in Missouri is one of the most diverse and unique parks in the state. It was established in 1924 to honor the well-known author, Samuel Clemens, who is better known as Mark Twain. Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, which is where the park resides. The Mark Twain Memorial Park Association raised more than $10,000 to buy 100 acres and it became the third oldest state park in the state. This lovely and historic park in Northeastern Missouri now has 2,788 acres and boasts 6.7 acres of trails, 95 RV and tent campsites, and the 18,000-acre Mark Twain Lake.
You can also find the smaller, four-acre Tom Sawyer Lake near Route U and Highway 107. Both lakes have a plethora of various fish and other water creatures like turtles, crawfish, and frogs. Be sure you have your Missouri fishing license and pack your fishing poles in the motorhome before you head out. Don’t forget the net because there are some big ones in there. If you want to get together with family and friends, there are two reservable picnic shelters, one that holds over 100 people and has a refrigerator and stove for your convenience. Spend the day or the week, there is plenty to do for everyone at Mark Twain State Park.
In the middle of northern Missouri, about two hours from St. Louis and three hours from Kansas City, you can find the beautiful and historic Mark Twain State Park. In fact, Interstate 70 will take you to the park from either area, and with Missouri’s central location, it is an easy drive from anywhere in the country. If you are driving a large rig or pulling a trailer, you will need to take it slow and careful when you get off the interstate because the road into the park is curvy and narrow. You should also watch for wild animals like whitetail deer that sometimes wander out onto the road.
The roads inside the park are generally easy to maneuver no matter what you are driving because it is well-kept and seems to be made for large rigs and trailers. However, some of the campground roads are bumpy and have low hanging branches at certain times of the year so you will need to go slow. Most campers leave their RVs and trailers at the campsite and walk or bike around the park, but the park is large, and you may need to drive to get to the places that are further away such as the historic site or Tom Sawyer Lake.
Puma Campground is open year-round and has 37 campsites, two that are ADA-accessible and four that are family sites. The pad lengths range from 45 to 61 feet long, but the family sites have an extra pad and electric hookup. The shower house and restrooms with flush toilets are centrally located in the middle of the campground by the host campsite, number 93. There is a playground for the kids in the middle of the southern end of the campground and sites 71 through 78 are all located right next to the lake. The boat ramp is by site 58 at the northern end of the campground and there is a large parking lot and a fish cleaning station there as well. Potable water spigots are found at the host site as well as sites 64, 73, 83, 90, and 103. From November until March, you will need to go to the frost-free water access by campsite one in Badger Campground. Pets are welcome as long as they are restrained or on a leash at all times.
Coyote Campground has 31 campsites open all year long with pads from 47 to 66 feet in length. All the sites have a fire ring, lantern hook, and picnic table and are in a wooded area not far from the lake. Nine of the campsites have electric and the rest are basic with water access at sites 33, 37, 46, and 53. Three of the sites are ADA-accessible and there is a vault toilet and extra parking at the north end of the campground by the amphitheater. From November until March, you will need to go to the frost-free water access by campsite one in Badger Campground. Pets are welcome as long as they are restrained or on a leash at all times.
Badger Campground is open all year with pads ranging from 52 to 66 feet long. Each campsite has a picnic table, lantern hanger, and fire pit and there is one ADA-accessible site, which is number eight. There are showers with hot water, restrooms with flush toilets, and laundry facilities on the main park road by campsite number one. There is also a woodlot nearby where you can chop your own wood for a fire. The RV dump site is at the eastern end of the campsite by the exit to Highway 107. Potable water spigots are located at campsites six and 18. From November until March, you will need to go to the frost-free water access by campsite one in Badger Campground. Pets are welcome as long as they are restrained or on a leash at all times.
All sites are reservable, but some are available first-come, first-served on a day to day basis at the camp host’s discretion. Be sure to check with the host or a park employee before setting up camp. If you cannot find a park employee or host, follow the instructions on the vacancy card on the post by the site.
You can fish all year long at Mark Twain Lake because the fish seem to bite no matter how cold it gets. Pack your fishing gear and a big net in the camper so you can catch dinner before heading back to the campsite. The perch, carp, bass, catfish, and crappie are plentiful, and they get pretty big. If you would rather fish at a small lake, the Tom Sawyer Lake on Highway 107 and Route U has plenty of fish all year too.
Even after the summer is over, having a picnic at the park is a fun activity so gather the family into the RV and head to Mark Twain State Park. The Buzzard’s Roost Picnic Area has 30 individual picnic sites with a table and grill, or the Highway 107 Picnic Area has six sites near the boat ramp. There are also two shelters at the Buzzard’s Roost Picnic Area, one that holds about 45 people and the other holds up to 100 people. They both have tables, electric, water, BBQ grills, and the larger one even has a kitchen with a refrigerator and stove.
Get out of the campervan and onto the trail. If you are just looking for a short trek through the woods, try the Whitetail Trail, which is less than half a mile and meanders along the scenic rock cliffs that were created by the water before the dam was built. If you have a bit more time on your hands and want to get some exercise, the 1.7-mile Post Oak Trail is a nice hike through the steep hillside overlooking the South Fork of the Mark Twain Lake. Or you can try the 1.3-mile White Oak Trail, the short half-mile Barefoot Sam Trail, or the 2.3-mile Dogwood Trail.
The amphitheater by the Coyote Campground provides informational programs and exhibits all summer long given by an experienced naturalist. You can get out of the RV and enjoy a movie night, survival skills workshop, guided hikes, and live animal demonstrations. Mark Twain State Park has many wild critters including harriers, osprey, deer, raccoons, squirrels, turkey, rabbits, and hundreds of varieties of birds. The naturalists at the park are available all summer to answer your questions or take you for a historical tour through the area.
There are two concrete boat ramps with four lanes for your convenience. The ramp off Highway 107 two miles north of Route U has a lighted parking lot. The second one is further down Route U and Highway 107, but the parking lot is not lighted. There’s also a single-lane boat ramp at the campground for registered campers only. Spend the day on the lake fishing, swimming, tubing, or just enjoying the view before heading back to the RV at the campsite.
Swimming is always a great way to get out of the camper and get some sun and Mark Twain Lake is like one big beach because you can swim anywhere except for in front of the boat ramp. There is a beach at the north end of the park at the Highway 107 Recreation Area that has a changing house and restroom access. It is open from sunrise to sunset daily from Memorial Day until Labor Day. There is no lifeguard, though so you will be swimming at your own risk.