Welcome to St. Francois State Park in Missouri, where you can enjoy an area filled with rich history and unbothered nature and wildlife. When you head out for a hike here, you will be immersed in a forests filled with oak, dogwood, and hickory trees. You’ll also find Coonville Creek feeding the rich vegetation, and Big River bordering the end of St. Francois State Park. Stop by here to catch a few fish or enjoy a nice picnic with the family. This park has been providing peace and tranquility to its visitors since 1964, when the county managed to save up enough money with the help of its residents and buy the area that was to become St. Francois State Park.
But the natural beauty of the area wasn’t the only thing that drew people here. Before it became a park, people flocked to this area in hopes of finding lead, but didn’t have much luck. However, there are many exciting stories of people hiding in caves here. One such story is of a man named Sam Hildebran, who, during the Civil War, joined in on the fight after his brother was killed in the war. When you bring your RV to St. Francois State Park, you’ll get to hear and learn all about it, while enjoying amenities such as electric hookups, restrooms, showers, and more.
You will find that the St. Francois State Park is pretty far out. It’s four miles from Bonne Terre, 20 miles from De Soto, and 21 miles from I-55. Once you get into the park, you’ll need to stay to the right to get to the park office. Once there, you can pick up a map that will help you navigate and get to the campground. Keep in mind that if you’re staying the night, you should be inside the park and settled in your RV by 10 p.m., which is when quiet hours begin. If you’d like to eat or hike the trails before setting up your RV, you should be able to find parking at the picnic areas and trailheads. However, you might find it easier to park your RV or camper at the campsite and head out in your car instead. Once settled, you can take your bike out or go on foot onto the trails, where you’ll get to breath in the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful natural scenery.
There is just one campground in the park, but it is filled with 110 campsites. 63 of these sites include 30 amp electricity, and 28 are pull-throughs. You will find nice amenities nearby such as hot showers, restrooms, drinking water, a laundry facility, and a dump station. Keep in mind though that while this campground is open all year long, certain amenities such as showers and restrooms are unavailable during the off-season, which runs from November to March. If you do need a restroom during the off-season there are always vault toilets available. You will also find a picnic table and grill at your site, and a playground and an amphitheater located nearby. Reservations can be made, but are usually not necessary to find a camping spot. If you have someone in your party who needs an ADA-accessible campsite, there is a camping area that can accommodate. There are also family campsites that are larger for those that need a little bit more space.
There’s no better way to enjoy a meal with the family than by the river or creekside when you travel in your campervan or big rig. There are plenty of picnic tables located along Big River and Coonville Creek, with drinking water, restrooms, and playgrounds for the kids located nearby. If you need a bigger space though for a special event, there are two picnic shelters that you can reserve. If no reservations are made, they become available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you’ve brought your boat with you on your RV camping trip, there are two places at the picnic area where you can get it in the water. This way, you can fish from your boat. If not, there are still three miles of river stream that you can fish from inside the park. If you don’t want to fish at Big River, there is also Coonville Creek. Many people like to come to both the river and creek to catch bass and catfish. Just don’t forget to carry your fishing license.
Here at St. Francis State Park, there are staff that work here all year long who’s purpose and priority is to educate and entertain. After you park your big rig, see what kind of events are going to be taking place during your stay. Sometimes they will use the amphitheater, host games and activities, and even take groups out on guided nature walks. This is a great way to get out and learn more about nature and wildlife.
Big River provides some opportunities for those who wish to cool off in the water or take their canoe or kayak out for a bit. There are two places where you can access the river and get your boat in the water, and they are located at the picnic areas. Please refrain from using motorized boats in the river. Also keep in mind that there is no specific place marked for swimming, so please be careful while in the water.
The mountains located in the area provide great opportunities for rock climbing and rappelling, and St. Francois is one out of just five Missouri parks that allow for it. In order to participate though, you will need to get a permit from the park office before heading out. Rock climbing experience is another must. This sport activity is not recommended for beginners, as it can be very dangerous if not done carefully.
There are three trails in the park, and they are the type that avid hikers, bikers, and horseback riders will enjoy. However, they are lengthy. Mooners Hollow and Swimming Deer Trail are both labels to be moderate, while Pike Run Trail is rugged. Mooners Hollow is just under three miles long, while Swimming Deer is just over three miles. Pike Run is nearly 11 miles, but has two different loops for you to take.