Sunday, June 19, 2016

Camping on Missouri Conservation Areas

Family Camping amongst the shortleaf pines at Peck Ranch Conservation Area
There are some fairly incredible and underutilized camping opportunities across Missouri on Missouri Conservation Areas.  The really cool thing about this is that almost without exception, every county in Missouri has a conservation area where camping is permitted.

Though many conservation areas allow camping, some do not, and it should be noted that pretty much all the camping areas on MDC conservation area land are in the category of "primitive."

Many at least have outhouse type restrooms, but few if any even offer running water, let alone shower facilities like many state parks offer.  If that does not scare you off, then you just expanded your camping choices greatly in the Show-Me State!

Peck Ranch Campground
One of our favorites is Peck Ranch Conservation Area down in Carter and Shannon Counties, east and a little south of Eminence.  The area can be busy during deer seasons and even turkey season, and should probably just be avoided during special managed hunts held several times a year in the wildlife refuge portion.  A schedule for these hunts can be found here.

The main part of the campground is nestled into one of the most pristine stands of shortleaf pine trees that you will find anywhere in a campground setting.  Recreation opportunities in the surrounding areas abound.  The wildlife refuge now has an elk population.  A short drive away is one of Missouri's best swimming holes - Rocky Falls.  Within a 20 minute drive is some of
Missouri's best smallmouth bass fishing on the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers.  A section of the
View from firetower Stegall Mountain
famed Ozark Trail makes its way across Peck Ranch.  Finally, no visit to Peck is complete without a drive to the top of Stegall Mountain and climb as far as permitted up the steps of the resident firetower.  The views are amazing.

Just to bookend things, in the northern part of the state and a little west of Kirksville is Union Ridge Conservation Area.  It is one of the larger conservation areas in the northern part of Missouri at around 8000 acres.  There is fishing, hiking, hunting, and of course camping opportunities across this beautiful area.

Before you go, do a bit of research.  As mentioned before, some of these areas are open to camping and others are not. Also, quite a few have shooting ranges, which are fine, but may not fit into the tranquility you desire on a camping trip into nature.  To start research, visit the conservation atlas.

Rolling hills of Union Ridge Conservation Area
So, we encourage you to check out the camping opportunities available on these great areas.

Next, our series will begin to shift gears as we hone in on some unique areas, some of which we have mentioned already. The next in the series will come out June 21st, 2016.