St. Joe State Park isn’t your typical Missouri park. While many feature wondrous natural features such as rivers, lakes, and mountains, this one features mud simply because the trails are specially designed for off-roading. That’s right, here is where you can take your off-road vehicle for some fun and adventure. You might be interested to know that there is only one other state park that was designed for off-roading in the state, making St. Joe State Park a rare find indeed.
But before off-roading even existed, there was another thing that made this area really popular, and that was mining for lead. In the 1900’s, this area was responsible for 80% of lead mined in America. This went on for nearly 100 years, and you can still see some of the mining remains today when you visit. If you want to get away in your RV for a while, St. Joe has a lot to offer you. Aside from off-roading and exploring rich history, you can also traverse the many trails on foot, bike, or horse. You can also enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing at any of the four lakes located here. There’s a bunch to discover here, so go ahead and make those RV reservations at St. Joe State Park.
There is a lot to see and do at St. Joe State Park, so there are a number of roads for you to take. However, you will likely find it easier to just park your RV at your designated campsite and travel around the park in a smaller vehicle. If you get to your campsite and find that it’s too small to accommodate all of your vehicles and trailers, they offer outdoor storage rentals where you can park them. Each unit is 14 by 40 feet - large enough to fit an RV if you decide that you’re just visiting for the day or want to tent camp instead. If you need a place to store your off-road vehicle, bikes, or anything else of that matter, the park also offers indoor storage rentals, where you will be given a unit to store all of your belongings. This is especially a good idea if you plan to visit the park more than once. Some other alternative ways to get around the park include going by foot, taking a bike, riding a horse, and using your off-road vehicle.
You may find that the Equestrian Campground doesn’t offer as much as Campground 1. However, it is a better place to stay if you have brought horses. This campground offers 25 sites, with 13 of them offering pull-through access and electric hookups. These hookups only offer 20- and 30-amp though. At each site, you will find a hitching post for your horse, as well as a picnic table and grill. If you wish to use the shower or dump station or play at the playground, you will need to visit Campground 1. You can make reservations and stay here any time of the year.
This campground is open and available for reservations year-round. It totals 75 sites, 40 of which are RV-friendly and offer 20, 30, and 50 amp hookups. There are no water or sewer hookups available, but you will be able to find drinking water and a dump station nearby. You will also be able to find showers and restrooms in the area, but these are only available from April to October. All RV sites are pull-through and can accommodate RVs that are 30 feet long or shorter. At each site, you should find amenities such as a picnic table and grill. Nearby is a playground and laundry facility. If you brought your off-road vehicle, this is the campground you should stay at, as there is a staging area for you to park your vehicle when it is not in use.
Here at St. Joe State Park, you will find picnic tables located all over the place such as at the trailheads, lakes, and staging areas. But where you will find the best is at Pim Lake Day Use Area.Here, you’ll have picnic tables, grills, vault toilets, and a playground nearby. There are six picnic shelters that are great for large groups. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as they have not already been reserved.
There are a lot of trails to be discovered at St. Joe State Park, and not all of them are for off-roading. There are trails specially designed for foot traffic, others for bicyclists, and many for equestrians. The trails range from easy to difficult, with some being much longer than others. Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy listening to the trickling of a nearby creek and wandering under the shade of many lush trees.
All four lakes are stocked with great catches such as bass, crappie, and catfish. Many people like to take the boat out to go fishing, but if you didn’t bring it with you on this trip or just don’t feel like taking the boat, you can fish from the dock at Monsanto Lake. Monsanto is the biggest and deepest lake at the park. If you wish to access JoLee or Apollo Lakes, you’ll need to show you fishing license, so don’t forget to grab it out of your camper or trailer.
While you can only swim at two of the lakes, you can boat at any of them. Gravel boat ramps are available all year long at each of the lakes for free. Just keep in mind that in order to get to Apollo Lake or JoLee Lake, you’ll need to show a fishing license. No gas-powered motors are allowed. If you didn’t bring the boat but wish to get out on the water, you can rent kayaks and canoes from the park.
Don't forget to pack your sunscreen in your campervan. Two of the four lakes located at St. Joe State Park offer swim beaches. You will find these located at Pim Lake and Monsanto Lake. There’s no better way to beat the summer heat than to dive into a cool, refreshing lake. Just be sure to use safety precautions and keep an eye on the kids. At Monsanto, you should find picnic tables, grills, a volleyball net, vault toilets, and changing rooms for your convenience.
If you brought your off-road vehicle with you, you can choose to either take it out on one one the ORV trails, or have fun doing tricks in the ORV Riding Area located near Campground 1. The campground will give you access to the staging area for the vehicles so you can be ready to go. If you decide you want to visit again later but don’t want to have to transport everything all over again, you can rent a storage unit here at the park.