If you like caves, Meramec State Park may be the perfect spot for your next RV vacation. With the awesomeness of the Meramec River and its surrounding forests, cliffs, and bluffs, this park has been a favorite since it opened in 1927. The 6,896-acre park has year-round RV and tent camping, as well as cabins and a motel, so you cannot go wrong no matter what kind of camping you want to do. Just four miles from Sullivan in east central Missouri, you will find this fantastic getaway on the edge of Mark Twain National Forest where the river meets the caves and forest.
Whether you are into floating, boating, fishing, or hiking, you can find it here. You can even spend the day picnicking and exploring some of the dozens of caves in the park. Guided tours of Fisher Cave are available during the main summer season for a small fee, but the other caves are available to the public for free. There’s a dining lodge, store, and nature center as well so you can eat and relax without missing out on the natural area of Meramec State Park. In fact, they even have a conference center with rooms you can rent, a motel, and cabins for those who do not like “roughing it” in the camper or motorhome.
In east central Missouri about an hour from St. Louis or four hours from Kansas City, you can find rugged wilderness, RV camping, boating, and swimming at Meramec State Park. Just a short trip down Interstate 70 and Highway 44, you should have no problem finding this park. Since it is one of the most popular and well-known parks in the state, there are signs all along the highway and you can ask just about anyone in the area for directions because everyone knows where it is. After leaving the highway, the roads can be tricky if you are in a large rig or are pulling a trailer.
Take it easy and watch the curves as well as the narrow lanes and keep an eye out for critters that sometimes wander into the road. Once you get into the park, the roads are typically well-kept and maintained for RV or trailer usage but watch out for low-hanging branches and potholes, as well as children and other campers in the park. It is a large park so you may not have the option of leaving the RV at the campsite if you want to go to one of the places that are quite a ways such as the conference center, visitor center, or motel. However, if you bring a bike, you should be fine.
Spanning nine rural, wooded acres, Stanton/Meramec KOA offers big amenities. Right on the scenic Meramec River, there is an on-site canoe company that outfits guests with everything they need for a wonderful day on the river. Hungry? On-site, guests can savor the Cricket Cafe, serving traditional southern Missouri barbecue and pizza, from April to October. Enjoy a game of pool in the game room or take a dip in the seasonal swimming pool. There are several community fire pits, so guests can meet old friends or make new ones. The campground provides an off-leash Kamp K-9 dog park for pooches. Big rigs are always welcome with large pull-through sites available. Enjoy the comforts of home with sparkling bathrooms, hot showers and laundry facilities. It’s all here at the Stanton/Meramec KOA!
The group tent areas A, B, and C are available to reserve for groups of 15 to 50 people. Each area has a paved lot with space for about 15 automobiles, two lantern hangers, two fire pits, and eight picnic tables. They do not have electricity or water but there is potable water between Areas A and B as well as at the restroom and shower house by Area C. The campground is open year-round but from November until April potable water is only available at the frost-free spigot near the dump station. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash of at least 10 feet long.
Campground 3 has 32 sites with driveways from 35 to 63 feet. Seven of these are in a loop next to the shower house, restrooms, and laundry access, and 22 are in the loop by the boat ramp and near the woodlot, restaurant, camp store, and visitor center. Also, there are three sites right on the river off to the side secluded from the rest of the camp. There is also an RV dump station and frost-free water spigot between the shower house loop and the three campsites on the riverbank. All of these sites have electricity, a picnic table, and fire ring. The campground is open year-round but from November until April potable water is only available at the frost-free spigot near the dump station. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash of at least 10 feet long.
With 78 campsites, Campground 2 has a variety of different types of campsites with driveways from 37 to 82 feet long so you can find a spot to fit even the largest motorhome or trailer. The 20 sites along the river have electric, sewer, and water and are right by the playground and potable water access. The next 38 campsites in the first loop have electricity and are right next to the shower house and restrooms, as well as an overflow parking lot. The remaining 20 sites in the last loop are basic sites with several spots that have access to potable water. All of these sites have electricity, a picnic table, and fire ring. The campground is open year-round but from November until April potable water is only available at the frost-free spigot near the dump station. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash of at least 10 feet long.
Just a few feet from the Meramec River, playground, and caves, these sites are great for everyone. This campground has 40 sites with driveways from 53 to 78 feet so even the biggest rigs can fit. Fourteen of these sites have electric and water while the rest have electric but there are several spots with access to potable water. You can also find the shower house with hot water, restrooms with flush toilets, and vault toilets nearby. The amphitheater is next to the cave where they do special programs for kids and adults during the on-season months. There is a large parking lot by the cave and amphitheater as well as by the shower house. All of these sites have electricity, a picnic table, and fire ring. The campground is open year-round but from November until April potable water is only available at the frost-free spigot near the dump station. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash of at least 10 feet long.
First-come, first-served sites are available but you need to check with the campground host or park staff first. Also, reservable sites become available on a day-to-day basis if the site is not already reserved. If there is no staff available, follow the instructions on the campsite vacancy card. The campground is open year-round but from November until April potable water is only available at the frost-free spigot near the dump station. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash of at least 10 feet long.
Make sure you park the RV and get out in the wilderness on the Wilderness Trail, which is an 8.25-mile trail through the most remote and rugged areas of Meramec State Park. You will enjoy views of the river, rocky glades, woodlands with high peaks and ridge tops, as well as some exhilarating climbs on slopes that will test your abilities. Don’t take this trail unless you are a hiker; this is not a beginner’s trail. If you are a beginner, try the half-mile Walking Fern Trail, which is moderately difficult but short trek that starts and ends at the Fisher Cave entrance. You will meander through a diversity of habitats and by the entrance to Indian Cave as well.
The Meramec River has some of the best fishing in the Midwest and is known for its diverse variety of aquatic critters. From panfish like bluegill and crappie to game fish like small and largemouth bass, catfish, and carp, you can find it all here at Meramec State Park. Whether you are using cut bait, worms, or lures, you are sure to catch something worthwhile if you try so be sure to pack your fishing gear as well as a big net in the camper before you head to the park.
Just because you are doing some motorhome or RV camping, that does not mean that you cannot enjoy a nice meal at the Fireside Store and Grill. You can grab a burger, sandwich, or BBQ chicken for a nice lunch or dinner at the Grill and then do some shopping at the Fireside Store. They have all the RV and camping necessities as well as extras like souvenirs to bring back for those unlucky friends who missed the trip.
There is a concrete boat launch by Campground 3 where you can launch your boat and leave your trailer or campervan in the spacious parking lot for the day while you enjoy the river. Whether you are interested in getting wet, fishing, or just enjoying a relaxing day on the water, the Meramec River at the Meramec State Park is a fantastic place to be on a hot summer day. Spend the day on the water and then head back to your campsite for a BBQ.
The Meramec River is one of the top spots for float trips in Missouri with some of the best rapids as well as clear water sections where you can meander along the riverbank in a tube, raft, or canoe. Bring some water toys and pack a lunch so you and your friends can stop on a gravel bar and take a break. If you forget to pack your inner tubes or rafts in the rig, you can rent or buy them at the camp store.
If you have never been inside a cave, you should not miss getting a tour of Fisher Cave. This is a seasonal option that you will always remember, especially if you take some selfies to share on Facebook. See helictites, stalagtites, stalagmites, soda straws, and some cave critters like the cave salamander and, of course, bats. Let the tour guide fill you in on the interesting ecological and amazing natural wonders in the Missouri Ozarks. There is plenty of parking in the lot for your RV or camper so don’t worry about that, just make sure you don’t miss this experience while visiting the park.