Best Tent Camping In Missouri: 6 Free Campgrounds & 13 Sites

Best tent camping in Missouri: 6 free camping sites and 13 campgrounds for your next camping trip

Missouri has many natural beauty spots that can be used for camping by residents and visitors alike. The natural landscapes of the state are unique, these are forests, rivers, mountains, lakes, etc. That’s why we want to give you some Tips about the best tent camping in Missouri.

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This is really the place where you can relax and enjoy nature; it will become the base for exploring the surrounding attractions. For this purpose, there are several types of camping sites in the state. Travelers use national parks and go on camping trips in Missouri within motor homes to explore the area and relax.

This article lists the best paid and free spots for campgrounds in Missouri.

Is Missouri good for camping trips?

Missouri has many different places to visit. Top tourists in Missouri go for destinations like the Gateway Arch, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the National World War I Museum, the Ozark Mountains, the Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock lake, Black river, Missouri river and other places in St. Louis and Kansas City.


Missouri offers plenty of outdoor adventure and city sightseeing. All this awaits travellers in campgrounds in Missouri. In Missouri, you can see many different terrains combined with cool weather; the winter here is usually not too cold. This makes it possible to camp at any time of the year.

However, temperatures in the Ozarks are much cooler than in other areas of the state. That is why late spring and early autumn are the best times for camping in Missouri. In comparison, the flat areas are warmer, and in winter they are convenient for tent camping.

To observe wildlife and wildflowers, it is recommended to visit the state in spring or autumn. One more thing to keep in mind is that campsites tend to be most busy during the summer, so those who wish will need to pre-book a campsite. Many camping sites close during the off-season (November-March) and only limited accommodation becomes available.

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Travellers can find amazing places to go camping and roam in Missouri. The Northern Plains around Kansas and the Ozark Plateau around Springfield and Branson provide a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are other vacation spots in the Alluvial Plain (Mississippi) in Missouri where you can rest for free.

If you want to take part in sports games hosted by professional Missouri sports teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, or St. Louis Blues, it’s also completely free. Branson is the best place in the world to see live performers.

Can you camp for free in Missouri?

If you decide to spend your vacation free camping in Missouri, you will get a lot of positive emotions. There are many places to go camping in this beautiful state where you can relax and spend time with your family. It could be a boat ride, exploring a wooded area, or relaxing around a campfire.

Most of the campgrounds in Missouri are ideal for exploring the city. The Agency reserve is especially popular. With free camping in Missouri, you can be closer to active activities and avoid crowds.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are plenty of amusement parks such as Silver Dollar City, Worlds of Fun and Six Flags St. Louis. These places are suitable for relaxing on hot summer days. The Mississippi River, from its source to its mouth, is one of the most fantastic places to camp for free.

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6 Best Free Camping sites in Missouri

If you want to have an unforgettable vacation in Missouri, then you should visit the best places for free camping in Missouri. Do not hesitate, you will definitely find something interesting among the options presented.

1.     Agency Conservation Area

The best free camping spot in Missouri is the 94-acre Agency Preserve, which offers opportunities for wildlife viewing. Parking and camping are located near Rock Creek Road SE on the eastern end of the conservation area. This place is ideal for fishing and bird watching. It is also possible to hunt and fish in the Agency Reserve with a permit.

For those looking to explore Kansas City, the good news is that it’s only a 45-minute drive from the state park. Kansas City has many great attractions, and this free campsite is the perfect base for those who wish to visit the city.

There are few facilities on the territory of the reserve, but there is gravel parking, which will be useful for RV owners. If you like to pitch tents away from prying eyes, this is definitely a peaceful place to do so.

The protected area is ideal for those who like to relax in nature. However, parking options are extremely limited here. It’s also a great place to travel to Kansas City for those who don’t want to spend money on a hotel.

2.     Big Creek Conservation Area

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There are more than a thousand acres of forests and savannahs. In addition, there are three different campsites located around Big Creek.

Hiking and biking trails take visitors through miles of wilderness. Hunting, bird watching and fishing are available here. Special garbage cans are installed on the territory, but there are no other amenities, you need to be prepared for this.

Hiking and cycling trails are the main attraction of the reserve.

3.     Ben Branch Conservation Area

The territory of the reserve is more than 500 acres, it is the man-made lake Ben Branch. The area certainly offers a wide range of entertainment. Examples are hunting, fishing and bird watching.

There are also several specialized places for accommodation with a tent. It is worth noting that the free campsites of the reserve offer more amenities than similar places in other protected areas. You can also drive to the boat ramp on the lake and get out on the water, have a picnic in a designated area and take a shower.

There are also plenty of camping spots and easy access to the lake, which is a big bonus for summer lovers.

4.     The Mark Twain National Forest

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The national forest occupies a vast territory, where dozens of free campsites are located. In fact, the state park covers 1.5 million acres and covers 29 different counties. Missouri is known to offer plenty of free camping spots, and this camping in Missouri is no exception.

In this area, there are many locations that can be explored by wildlife lovers. You can go hiking, biking, horseback riding or using an SUV. There are also many places for kayaking, boating and relaxing on the beach. Rest in this national forest, no doubt will appeal to even those who have seen a lot. There are also many campsites and places to stay.

5.     Beaver Lake Recreation Area

This area is part of the Mark Twain National Forest but stands out from the rest. Secluded in the woods, it is a great place to spend a weekend, providing a 15-acre lake with a variety of fish, as well as allowing the use of small boats with electric motors.

Boats can also be launched from a gravel ramp. Nearby there are no amenities and entertainment facilities, but there are many natural beauties. To start, you can swim in the lake, and then go hiking for wild flowers. There are few people and no amenities; the atmosphere is quiet and calm.

6.     Poague Conservation Area

The nature reserve extends over 879 acres. There are several dedicated campsites in the area and a car park within the Poague Nature Reserve. There are no amenities nearby, but some campsites have gravel sites where you can build fires.

In the Poague Reserve, you can set up a tent camp, go hiking, fishing and hunting. The area is home to several species of wildlife. For example, some travellers meet bald eagles on the territory.

How much does it cost to camp in Missouri: best sites to go camping in Missouri ?

On average, camping in Missouri costs $20 per night. Some places with extra amenities will cost more.

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1.     Meramec Caverns Campground

Missouri is a real cave state, and Meramec Caves can be called an icon of cave beauty. An unusual series of caves and deep green vegetation make this place one of the best tent camping in Missouri.

The campsite’s location of Meramec Caverns next to the Meramec River allows hikers to view the river and nature below. There are also 179 camping sites available for RVs, trailers, motorhomes, caravans and tents.

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The place is ideal for families, pets are allowed. However, it is not wheelchair accessible. The motel and caves are open all year round, and the campsites – pristine and shared – are available for occupancy from April 1st to October 31st.

Kayaks or canoes can be rented from the campsites, allowing you to ride along the river. Fishing, hiking, paddle boarding, swimming and wildlife watching are also available at Meramec Caverns Campground.


  • picnic tables
  • showers and toilets
  • drinking fountains
  • mounts for motorhomes
  • covered pavilion for recreation


  • a place without electricity – from 16.00 USD
  • site with electricity – from 36.00 USD
  • each additional person from 16 years of age is additionally paid – 8.00 USD
  • children under 15 can stay free of charge

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2. Mark Twain State Park

In the mountains of Missouri, one of the best campsites for campers is located. Tourists can enjoy views of rivers, bluffs and other natural attractions to keep you busy while camping, the natural wealth of the state will appear in all its glory. There are 99 campsites concentrated here, some of them primitive without water.

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Tent camping is the main activity, but a tourist can also go camping in Missouri an RV, however, there are not many parking spaces or RV accommodations.

The campsite offers activities such as fishing, boating and hiking. Also, travelers are offered a variety of activities in which children can participate.


  • free Wi-Fi
  • cabins
  • water
  • shower cabins
  • playground


  • site with electricity – 35.00 USD
  • children under 13 can stay free of charge

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3. Roaring River State Park

South of Cassville, this campsite is perfect for families. Due to their location on the Missouri-Arkansas border, the Ozarks are rugged, steep and winding, making them a great place to camp.

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This area is also one of the most picturesque; there are convenient places for fishing; campers and tents are allowed here, and it is also a great place for hiking and trekking. In addition to hiking, you can ride trout bikes and take part in entertaining programs for children.


  • Basic Electricity
  • restaurant
  • water
  • shower cabins
  • playgrounds
  • hotel


site – 19.00 USD

More information

4. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Located southwest of St. Louis, this campsite spans 8,700 acres. Many people visit this place because of the unique vegetation, as more than 40% of the plants native to Missouri can be seen in Johnson State Park.

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Erosion-resistant rocks located between the Black and East Fork rivers hold back the flow of water, hence the name of the state park. The river flows around and over the boulders, creating torrents and waterfalls that are fun to watch and swim in.

The Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is ready to delight visitors with unique hiking trails, picnic areas and viewpoints, making it an ideal destination for families.


  • wood for making fires
  • laundry
  • hotel


  • site – 13.00 USD
  • senior discount price – 11.00 USD

More information

5. Table Rock State Park

 This park gives visitors the opportunity to be in close proximity to the city, and at the same time use the amenities that are located in the city. If you are visiting the park with family or friends, then you will find it very convenient to find a site in the park and enjoy your leisure time in Table Rock State Park.

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Two campsites are open at different times of the year: the first from March to November, and the second – all year round. Some of the activities you can do on your holiday are hiking, cycling and boating. Snorkelling, parasailing and diving/scuba diving are also on the list of activities to participate in.

In Table Rock State Park you can rent equipment that is on the campsite or take all the necessary attributes with you.


  • shower cabins
  • water


  • site – 25.00 USD

More information

6. Hawn State Park

One of the most popular tourist hiking trails is located here; its length is 10 miles. The trail passes through the Hawn State Park, the territory of which is huge – more than 5000 acres. The park is very beautiful and has many natural attractions.

One of them is a lot of exposed rocks. Among other attractions, flowers can be noted – these are wild orchids and mountain landscapes.

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You can be given a choice between walk-in, electric or simple camping sites covered in huge pine trees on the ground below. In addition, the Hawn State Park offers guests a special camping site for up to 50 people, which allows group recreation lovers to stay in it.

A nature walk in the Whispering Pine Forest is a great option for those who love hiking. In addition, various species of birds live here, which allows bird lovers to spend their time with benefit.


  • shower cabins
  • water
  • laundry


  • site – 23.00 USD

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7. Campground At The Falls

If you are looking for outdoor activities and love to relax near the water, then you should visit the camping at the falls in the Pineville area.

Joplin is a short drive from this Missouri campsite. There are many water sports on campus such as fishing and swimming. Guests can also enjoy the view of the waterfalls from which the tent camping got its name.

In addition, the Campground at the falls has a shallow stream with calm water, which will surely appeal to children.

The campsite, located at the falls, offers tourists the opportunity to take a five-mile canoe trip. Travelling by boat in the Campground at the falls will provide an excellent opportunity to enjoy the scenery and wildlife located in the area.


  • Wi-Fi
  • water
  • picnic areas


  • camping sites with electricity (30 amps) – 36.50 USD
  • camping sites with electricity (50 amps) – 43.00 USD

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8. Lazy Day Campgrounds

 Danville has a great campsite that’s perfect for lazy family camping trips. There are four different camping options to choose from.

The simplest is a campsite that has no electricity or running water, the second offers these amenities. The third plot offers water and electricity at 30 amps. In the last campsite – in the full sense of the word, the facilities are more adapted for a comfortable stay – water in constant access and electricity with high current (fifty ampere service).

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Campsites have employees who are always ready to help campers with accommodation. There are many fun activities for the whole family, such as an outdoor cinema on Saturdays, games in the yard, and fishing.


  • a 3-acre fish pond
  • swimming pool
  • dog park


  • a place without electricity and water – 31.50 USD
  • electricity + Water – 38.50 USD
  • electricity + water + sewerage – 41.50 USD
  • Electricity (50 amps) + water + sewer – 43.50 USD
  • each additional person (more than four) is additionally paid – 6.00 USD

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9. America’s Best Campground

 One of the most luxurious campsites in the state is located in Branson. It has ample parking space for a RV and 136 parking spaces.

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The camp staff will provide all RV supplies you may need. There is also a play area for children where kids can spend their leisure time.

The hospitable atmosphere of America’s Best Campground attracts many tourists, so those who wish will have to book a place to stay several months in advance.


  • barbecues
  • picnic areas
  • swimming pool
  • SPA
  • hotel
  • souvenir shop
  • free Wi-Fi


  • site – from 45.00 USD

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10. Alley Spring Campground

 The most beautiful campsite, surrounded by springs and caves with waterways and sinkholes, is one of the most beautiful.

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In Alley Spring Campground in Missouri, you can find several thousand caves, enjoy swimming in the clearest water and admire the gorgeous landscape. Fishing, kayaking and water skiing in nearby waters are also available to visitors.

The campsite is open all year round. However, it should be borne in mind that from October 15 to April 15, the shower and toilet rooms are closed. It will not be possible to rent a house here, but guests will be able to admire nature without interruption.


  • shower cabins
  • toilets


  • site – 17.00 USD.

More information

11. Graham Cave State Park

 Graham Cave State Park is located near the I-70 highway, which is located between St. Louis and Columbia. The unique history of the place is kept on the territory of  386 acres. Here in ancient times lived hunter-gatherers, whose traditions can be found in the state park.

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In addition to artefacts found at this site, a number of rare plants grow in the eastern part of the park, including prickly pear cactus and purple clover. Graham Cave State Park has 53 campsites to choose from.


  • electricity (50 amp)
  • shower cabins
  • toilets
  • pets allowed


  • site – from 12.00 USD

More information

12. Huzzah Valley Resort

Huzzah Valley Resort is located on the banks of the Huzzah River, which is an ideal place for lovers of water activities. Cozy campsites located next to the river include beaches and playgrounds. If you have a motorhome, you can rent a plot with 30/50 amp electricity.

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There are many more hiking trails at the campsite for exploring the nearby forests or taking a horseback ride up Mount Ozak. Some of the activities that take place at this campsite are rafting and fishing, as well as canoeing or kayaking.


  • electricity (30/50 amp)
  • barbecues
  • picnic areas
  • volleyball court


  • site – from 37.00 USD
  • children under 12  – 18.00 USD

Retirees and the disabled receive discounted rates for camping in Missouri parks. Each park has different regular fees and, accordingly, different discounts. All in all, you can save about 30% off what you would have to pay to camp in a state park.

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Are Missouri state parks free?

Entrance to the Missouri state parks is free, for this reason, tourists can take a day trip. Anyone who stops at one of Missouri’s 88 parks (5 or more times a year) is eligible for the Tourist Award. In each of the parks, travellers can receive various benefits, including free camping or discounted accommodation with a tent or motorhome.

If a traveller is planning an extended stay at a Missouri state park, we recommend that the traveller consider a free campsite stay through the Host Program. To do this, you need to place an application for participation in the program, park a motorhome or camper in a specially designated place and help people who come to visit.

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The program is simple, and in return, the traveller can stay in the state park for free for the whole season.

Camping enthusiasts can enjoy free activities in Missouri state parks. For example, guided tours by a volunteer ranger, are ideal for families who want to go hiking for the first time. Hikes of varying difficulty are led by rangers and experienced volunteers and are free at every state park.

In case You need a big tent for your next camping trip with the whole family, check our latest article about how to choose the 8-person tent.

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