About 30 minutes from Kansas City, in Weston, Missouri you will find the serene and beautiful Weston Bend State Park. The park holds many memories of its past residents such as the Indian tribes and soldiers. The Fox, Sac, Iowa, and Kansa Indian tribes once lived here and when Lewis and Clark reached the area in 1804, they found evidence of the tribes. From 1832 to 1838, a trading post and tavern served the Indians and soldiers in the area. However, the American government chose to buy the property in order to stop them from serving their soldiers liquor.
This historic and peaceful park runs alongside the bank of the Missouri River as well as Bear Creek and Bee Creek, so you have plenty of options for fishing, wading, and floating. There are also 35 RV and tent campsites, picnic areas, a stunning overlook, and over 10 miles of trails. In fact, the 1,133-acre Weston Bend State Park attracts more than 271,000 visitors every year. You would not expect to find such a peaceful and natural space this close to the hustle and bustle of the city but when you get to Weston Bend State Park, you will feel like you are in a different world.
Only one-half hour from Kansas City and four hours from St. Louis, you will find the historic and rugged Weston Bend State Park. Head down Interstate 70 to MO-371 until you get to 29 north and then head to MO-273, which is a bit narrow and winds around a bit so take it easy. If you are pulling a trailer or have a large RV, you will need to take it slow and careful. You should also watch out for any critters that may wander out onto the road. Just have your camera or phone handy so you can take a few pics on your way along the wooded roads.
When you get into the park, you will have to take it even slower as the roads are quite bumpy and rough. There are typically low-hanging branches during the spring, especially after a heavy rain. It is best if you park your rig at the campsite when you get there and walk or bike wherever you want to go or bring another vehicle that you can use around the park. While there are a few parking lots near the office, showers, and the day-use area, they are small and parking a large rig may be difficult.
The Weston Bend State Park Campground has 35 campsites that are open all year long. The pads range from 40 to 74 feet in length so you do not have to worry about whether your RV will fit if you reserve your spot early. They all have electric except for sites 001, 003, and 026, which are basic sites. However, there is potable water available near campsites 12, 23, 27, and 31. Showers with hot water and flushable toilets with running water are in the middle of the campground and there is an RV dumpsite nearby as well. The water and showers are shut off from November until mid-April so you will need to bring your own water during the off-season. However, there is a frost-free water spigot at the entrance to the campground for your convenience. Two of the sites are family campsites and offer an extra pad, picnic table, and fire pit. If you need wood for your fire, there is a wood lot by the host campsite at site number seven. There are three ADA-accessible campsites as well. Dogs are welcome as long as you keep them restrained or on a leash at all times.
All sites may be available for first-come, first-served users on a day-to-day basis at the discretion of the campground host or park ranger. If you cannot find a park employee, follow the instructions on the vacancy card on the post in front of the site. From November until mid-April, all sites are first-come, first served.
You should definitely bring your pooch with you so be sure to get them settled in the rig before leaving for the park. You will need a leash or crate to keep them secured during most of your stay but there is a 1.75-acre dog park where Fido can run free. There are three sections: one for large dogs, one for small pups, and another where all dogs can play together. You can relax on the bench while your pup plays and there is a doggy water fountain in case your dog gets thirsty when playing.
Pack up the family in the RV and head to the park for a picnic. There are quite a few picnicking areas located around the park. If you have a larger group in mind, choose one of the shelters available. The Bee Creek Shelter was once a tobacco barn and can hold over 100 guests. There are tables, chairs, a microwave, refrigerator, restrooms, and a frost-free water hydrant. The shelter must be reserved in advance. The smaller shelter in the day-use area holds up to 50 people and has water, electric, picnic tables, and two BBQ grills. There are working restrooms nearby and the shelter can be reserved or is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are several awesome trails in the park so make sure you get out of the camper and head out for a walk while you are visiting. The shortest and easiest trail is the 0.3-mile Missouri River Trail, which meanders along the riverbank and through the bottomland forest. You will likely see some wildlife no matter what time of year you hike it because there are many wild critters living in the area. The three-mile Weston Bluffs Trail is a bit more difficult and follows the western edge of the park parallel to the river. It is also an equestrian and biking path so be careful and courteous to others using the trail.
The Missouri River is a favorite for floaters as well as boaters so do not forget to pack your raft or inner tubes in the rig before heading out. You can also use a kayak or canoe if that is more your style. Grab whatever floating object you want to use and head upriver to start your adventure. Get in the water and float downstream as far as you can go or stop at one of the many gravel bars for a nice lunch or to try some fishing.
During the main season from mid-April until November, the park sponsors many different interpretive programs such as Prowl at the Park, Adventure to the Overlook, Hike On!!, and Spring into Action. They also have special live animal presentations, informational walks, and even some summer evening outdoor movies. Some of these take place at the office or day-use area while others are at various locations around the park. You can find more information at the park office. So don’t just sit by the camper the whole time you are here. Get out and learn something new about the area or the nature that surrounds the park.
There is a bicycle trail that is about three miles long, so make sure you do not forget to pack the bikes in the RV or camper. This paved track is popular to both bikers and hikers so be careful as you ride along the trail through the sycamores, oaks, and pawpaws. You will descend quite a bit before heading back up to the starting point where you will see prairies full of wildflowers and native Missouri grasses. Take along a picnic lunch to enjoy in one of the secluded picnic areas.