One of the best things about RV camping in the Ozarks is how quickly you can go from urban to rural. Cuivre River Campground, inside Cuivre River State Park, is a great example of this; located just an hour's drive outside downtown St. Louis, the state park campground feels like it’s hundreds of miles from the nearest city.Camping at Cuivre River Campground isn’t a totally rustic experience, though; many of the sites have full hookups for your RV rental (just electric or none if you’re into boondocking). Showers, laundry facilities, a dump station, and drinking water are also provided. You can even pick up firewood and ice from the campground office. If the little ones are tagging along on this motorhome camping adventure, there’s a small playground where they can run off their excess energy or have a picnic with the family.Most visitors to Cuivre River State Park come to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy nature while camping with an RV here. The park offers a hiking trail for just about any fitness or experience level, ranging from mile-long strolls to 11-mile, all-day adventures. The sheer variety of terrain is another reason people flock to Cuivre, where you can find grasslands, old-growth forests, and wide-open limestone bluffs all without leaving the 6,400-acre park.However, the centerpiece attraction while RV camping at Cuivre River Campground is Lake Lincoln, a 55-acre oasis on a hot summer day. Anglers will enjoy the ample supply of largemouth bass and catfish that make their home in the lake, while kayakers will love paddling its jagged coastline (boat rentals available near the campground).
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You could easily spend your entire trip just exploring the grounds of Cuivre River State Park, but should you feel the urge to get out and see more, there’s no shortage of great outdoor sights in this corner of the Ozarks. An excellent place to start might be the section of the Mississippi River outside Clarksville. Separating Missouri from the state of Illinois, “The Big Muddy” cuts an imposing path that is ideal for paddling enthusiasts. There’s a fair amount of barge traffic on this section, which can be fun if you enjoy spotting big boats during your paddling trip.Another great option is to head south of I-70, where some of the Ozark’s best trails are located. Quite a few of them are near the college town of Columbia; some are just a few miles long while others could be turned into an overnight backpacking trip. Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is a good place to start, with its beautiful limestone karsts and challenging scramble trails.Love a good rail trail? The Katy Trail follows the old Kansas-Missouri-Texas Railroad line for 228 miles, from Clinton in the west to the Illinois border in the east. It’s America’s longest rail-trail, and you can pick it up near St. Charles, about half an hour’s drive from the campground. The Katy Trail is perfect for cycling, with long stretches of flatlands that are easy on the legs. The scenery, rolling hills punctuated with farmhouses and historical rail depots, makes for a perfect tour of the state. If you need a set of wheels, bike rentals are available in St. Charles.
When you book an RV in Lincoln County, Missouri, your nearest urban amenities will be found in the town of Troy, about 15 minutes' drive from the campground. Despite its small size, it really packs it in when it comes to good restaurants. It should come as no surprise that the BBQ is plentiful and spectacular here, and is a must for anyone RV camping near St. Louis. There are also a few interesting shops lining Main Street. If you need fuel for your rental RV, there’s a large service center near the intersection of Highway 47 and 61.Your entertainment needs are probably best served by taking trips into St. Louis, though. There you’ll find some great attractions like the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour. It’s an American classic featuring a museum, beer garden, and amazing gift shop in addition to the tour of the factory floor. Even if you consider yourself a beer snob above such mass-market brews, the sheer size of the facilities makes it worth seeing.A trip to “The Lou” is also an opportunity to see one of America’s newest and surely its smallest national park – Gateway Arch National Park. At first glance, the 630-foot-tall arch seems an odd choice for park status compared to natural wonders like Yosemite and Yellowstone, but it’s the history that earns the arch such a coveted status. The arch is located at the starting point of Lewis and Clark’s famous Corps of Discovery expedition, which opened up the West (where the majority of America’s national parks are located). History buffs will also enjoy visiting the Old Courthouse that sits at the base of the arch, as this is where the Dred Scott case, one of the pivotal events that led to the American Civil War, was decided.