Any good places in Missouri?

itfchaos

Active Member
Apr 26, 2010
304
We live in Missouri and until now have always gone to state or federal parks where there are amenities. We are looking to do our first official boondock camp, although this past weekend we did 4 night trip dry with no hookups, to test our battery & water system on our N2U p'up. I have been searching like crazy but not really finding anything that looks good to go to. I came across marble creek but it looks like they charge now (use to be free). I guess it doesn't have to be free. We would like a river or creek or some sort of swimming hole close by.
 

CarNutCass

Put a little gravel in your travel
Mar 20, 2009
805
St. Charles
I pretty much grew up...or attempted to grow up....at Marble Creek cg. I love that place!

You're right, camping there was free for a long time. The NFS planned to close the cg and a volunteer group stepped up and offered to maintain it for the sake of keeping it open.

Most of the NFS cg's are fairly rustic in that part of the state. Silever Mines is another favorite of mine. Johnson Shut-Ins is my favorite SP in that area.
 

itfchaos

Active Member
Apr 26, 2010
304
I live about and hour north of Johnson shut-ins, that is one of the nicest campgrounds the state park service has now because it is so new and modern. It is one of our favorite places to go to for normal camping with hookups.

I was looking at silver mines as well. I may got to that and marble creek just to check them out, never been to them, would like to see them both and they are not that far apart.
 

cwolfman13

Super Active Member
Feb 9, 2011
3,220
Just a point of clarification....Marble Creek is a forest service CG (and by the looks of it, would be right up my alley)....but it is not the same as "boondocking" or "dispersed camping". While the CG itself may be rustic (most forest service CGs are to a varrying degree), they are still designated campgrounds. Very few NFS CGs have any hookups and the vast majority will have vaulted toilettes (some have flushing) and a water source available (often times a hand pump well). Due to the lack of "amenities", people often confuse this with boondocking when in reality, it's dry camping, just in a more rustic setting. They have dedicated sites, most will have picnic tables and some kind of grill and/or fire ring, etc. You will generall find NFS CG sites to be more spread out and larger than you would at an SP or NP and definitely more reprieve from your neighbors than you would ever find at any RV park/resort. That said, you will still have neighbors...there are generally quit time rules and other rules posted as well. Many, if not most, have CG hosts on site. For Marble Creek CG, the price looks right....$10 is what we pay at most NFS CGs around here. They're a bit more if they're near something "special" and attract a lot of visitors or if they have flush toilettes, etc. NFS CGs can be a great escape to the forest and a great way to get your feet wet for true boondocking excursions. NFS CGs are my 2nd favorite form of camping (after boondocking).

Boondocking (dispersed camping if you're talking to the forest service people) means you're pretty much on your own. Not only in terms of literally being out there alone, often with neighbors 1/4 mile +/- from where you are....but on your own in RE to providing yourself whatever you may think you need. There are no toilettes...no picnic tables....no forest service fire rings (though usually someone will have already established a stone ring at some point). If you need/want it, you have to pack it. As always, pack it in; pack it out. Certain jurisdictions handle dispersed camping differently. Around here, it is very common to be able to just head off down some forest road in the mountains and camp where you please (unless otherwise marked)...other jurisdictions...due to heavy use and preservation will designate "dispersed camping areas"....these dispersed "areas" will often losely resemble a CG but still lack any of the amenities a typical NFS CG would have. Best bet here is to give the ranger district a call and inquire as to the availability of dispersed camping and what areas you can do this in. Further, you could camp at... say Marble Creek and do some exploration of the area. Check out some of the forest roads, etc and see what's available or not available out there.

Here's a couple of visual references illustrating the difference:

IMG_4559.JPG

One of my favorite NFS CGs here in New Mexico - Clear Creek CG. We have neighbors to the left, right, and across the road...but as you can see, the site is spacious and you can often will yourself to forget that they are there. No hookups, vaulted toilettes, and one hand pump water spigot centralized in the CG.....9 sites and 1 group site at the back of the CG.

DSC01077.JPG

Here's one of our favorite "free for all" boondock sites. This particular piece of meadow is along FR 103 in the Jemez Mts (and only about 8 miles or so from the CG mentioned above). I say "free for all" because...well, it's free (and no permits required) and dispersed camping is allowed anywhere along this forest road as well as the forest roads and other trails that spider web off FR 103. As you can see...no picnic tables, no toilette, stone fire ring from some previous camper (behind the wood), no trash dumpsters, etc. Pack it in; pack it out. You need/want it, better pack it.

DSC01241.JPG

This one is a site near Ruidoso in Bonito Canyon...it is a "dispersed camping area" as designated by the forest service. It was MM Day weekend so busier than normal...you can't really see here, but we did hav neighbors off to the right of us about 100' or so and some behind me (i'm taking the pic) about 200' or so. Definitely nice and spread out, but more of a CG feel to it than just pulling off the forest road.

At anyrate, good luck. Love to here a trip report on Marble Creek. Note> you will often find it difficult to research dispersed camping or boondocking on-line as the sites aren't developed and don't have names usually. Some dispersed camping "areas" are named, but even then...they're so far removed from the "main stream" they often don't make it on-line unless someone has a blog or something and they're commenting on their stay at a particular area.
 

EK41

Active Member
Nov 5, 2010
228
The best bet is to contact the forest service office for that forest. They will provide you with the best information. Just because its a National Forest doesn't mean that it is public land. Even here in the west, there is some private land within national forests, the farther east you go the more private the forest is. Also check the web site for state parks, Department of Natural Resourses or Fish and Game (what ever your state calls it). You may find places to camp on those sites. If there is an area you want to travel to, check county web sites. There my be county parks or rec areas.
 

Unstable_Tripod

Well, there's your problem!
May 20, 2008
14,278
Seattle, Washington
HERE is a link to dispersed camping in the Mark Twain National Forest. The phone number to call for more info is in the lower left corner. You'll probably have to do a lot of searching because it appears that many of these options may be for backpacking only, not trailers.

As cwolfman13 said, boondocking is camping by yourself in the wilderness, not in any sort of campground. You must bring everything you need including tables, water, some sort of toilet facility, etc. You must also haul out everything you brought in, including trash. The forest service calls this "dispersed camping."

You might also check with the state to see if they have state forests where dispersed camping is allowed.
 

cwolfman13

Super Active Member
Feb 9, 2011
3,220
EK41 said:
....................Just because its a National Forest doesn't mean that it is public land. Even here in the west, there is some private land within national forests, the farther east you go the more private the forest is..........................

Good point....don't camp on private land within the forest boundaries unless you have been authorized to do so by the owners. It could be an unpleasant experience all the way around. In my experience, you generally know what's public and what's private, so I wouldn't worry about it too much....just don't go busting down any gates/fenses and watch out for those no trespass signs.
 




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