If the road ever takes you to the state of Missouri, make sure that it leads you to one of the gems of this beautiful state – Perishing State Park, which is tucked away in Linn County, three miles west of Laclede. About 5,000 acres of pristine nature make up the park, which was named after General John J. Perishing. Beautiful plants, gorgeous wetlands, and plenty of opportunities for backpacking and hiking will make this park hard to forget. So, if you choose to set up your rig here, you will learn about the history of the area, find out more about General Perishing, and have an amazing time surrounded by the gorgeous nature that the park offers. You will see monuments, memorials, and historic sites, enjoy hiking through wet prairies and marshlands, and spend your days relaxing among the trees. Whether you plan to stay just for one night or more, you will most definitely find plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation, so make sure to put Perishing State Park on your must-visit list!
Arriving to Perishing State Park is not difficult, as the nearest town is just a few minutes away. Laclede is located to the east of the park, and driving from there will take you about seven minutes, or about four miles. A little further to the east is Brookfield, a larger town about nine miles away, which can be your stop for groceries and other necessities before you head to the park. If you are coming from the west, the road will take you seven miles from Meadville, another small town close to the park. The main road leading to the park is spacious and flat and left and right lanes are separated by a strip of land. However, be careful when driving at night or when you are tired (which you should not be doing anyway) because these straight roads can become monotonous. Once you take your turn to enter the park itself, the road becomes quite narrow, although there are still two lanes that lead through a lightly wooded area.
There are 38 sites in total, four of which are pull-thrus, and 26 are electric-only sites. Potable water is available on the campgrounds, as well as the laundry room you can use, although it closes during the winter months. All sites have picnic tables and fire rings, so you can spend a relaxing evening by the fire with your loved ones, under the stars. One site is ADA-accessible, and you can find frost-free water by the vault toilet. Restrooms, shower house, laundry, and trash dumpster are just above the parking lot, next to the amphitheater. The RV dump station is also close to the campground, so you won’t have to drive for a long time to reach it.
History buffs will not be bored if they come to Perishing State Park, as the area has quite a rich history they can learn about. RV campers can visit the War Mothers Memorial which represents the mothers who lost their sons in the war. They can also learn about the history of the park, which used to be an area dominated by the Native Americans, mainly Fox and Sac tribes until the European settlers reached the Midwest. The land used to be a hunting ground before the settlements were established. Nowadays, you can find the burial mounds which are estimated to be as old as 2000 years! The park was named after John Perishing, whose father owned two farms close to the park. He used to wander around the area as a young man, fishing and hunting along the Locust Creek before he became the legendary war hero we know him as today.
If you are a bird lover, you will find plenty of amazing birds you can check off your list when you visit Perishing State Park in your camper. You can download their bird checklist, or make your own and head out to see what you can find and what type of a feathered creature you can encounter here. In the park itself, campers can see migrating songbirds, blue herons, waterfowl, barred owls, wintering bald eagles, as well as pileated woodpeckers. If you are a plant lover, you can find interesting flora in the prairie. Plants such as compass plant, blue flag iris, cordgrass, and spiderwort are quite common, however, you can also encounter the rare pale green orchid. Wildlife aficionados will be happy to see raccoons, mink, beavers, otters, muskrat, deer, turkey, and many frog species who love the wetland area of the park.
One of the most relaxing awards you can give yourself is to head outside of the campervan or trailer for a nice picnic under the sky. At Perishing State Park, you will find designated picnic areas with tables and benches you can use for extra comfort. If you already came prepared and do not need to make food on the spot – great, you’re set! However, if needed the park provides an enclosed picnic shelter with kitchen facilities you can use to prepare your delicious meals for your group. Campers of all ages will enjoy the picnic area, situated right by the locust creek and one of the lakes in this park.
Anglers can enjoy four small lakes where they can cast their bait and bring home dinner. Campers can try out their luck and perhaps catch bass, channel catfish, and bluegill in the lakes, or head to the Locust Creek and maybe trap bullhead, drum, or carp. Of course, you can grill the fish at designated areas and feed your entire group of friends if you are lucky, but most importantly, you can relax and unwind during the fishing process itself. You will find the most peace and quiet if you wake up very early and head to the fishing area, and of course, bring food and water for the day and make sure to leave no trace. If you like canoes, at certain times during the year you can paddle on the Locust Creek and try your fishing luck there, but do check with the park authorities before you do this.
Another great way to explore the unique terrain of Perishing State Park is to take the iconic Riparian Trail which will take you around the Locust Creek and lead you deep into the park. The non-loop trail connects the Fountain Grove Conservation Area with the southernmost end of the park, which gives you plenty of opportunities to observe the wildlife, explore the terrain, and learn more about the unique lands of the park. Of course, you’ll be able to see some interesting natural occurrences such as oxbow lakes, shrub swamps, and sloughs, and seek refuge from the sun under the oak, cottonwood, silver maple, and sycamore. You will not find water fountains along the way, so make sure to bring your own bottle, and as always, be careful, especially on the wetlands.
One of the greatest features of the Perishing State Park is the fact that the land is quite unique, and is basically a giant area of wetlands that you can explore if you are looking for something different than what other parks can offer. Once you set up your rig, head directly to the interpretive boardwalk, as well as the Riparian Trail that will take you along the Locust Creek. Since the boardwalk is interactive, you can see the exhibits that will explain how the wetlands came to be, how they are maintained, and how the wildlife manages to survive in such conditions. Walking along the boardwalk you will pass through the shrub swamps, the wet prairie, the bottomland forest, as well as the marsh before you get to the observation tower where you can oversee over 1,000 acres of the wet prairie.