Summer Camping Near St. Louis, Missouri

If you enjoy the summer heat, then you’ll love camping at the nearby parks in Missouri during the hottest times of the year. You can take shelter in a shady wooded campground, feel the cool misty air evaporating from spring-fed streams and rivers, or take a swim. There are several great state campgrounds within a few hours drive from St. Louis.

For those who prefer a staycation, one of the closest campgrounds to St. Louis can be found at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park. Babler park has some great hiking trails and plenty of open picnic areas for large groups of people. If you enjoy horseback riding there is also a 6 mile trail for the equestrian.

Driving north brings you to Mark Twain State Park and Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site. The campsites are located near Mark Twain Lake where you can paddle and fish. If you like American history, you can learn about life in the 1800s with tours of Civil War battlefields and the birthplaces of Harry S. Truman and Mark Twain.

About an hour and a half drive southeast of St. Louis is Hawn State Park. There are backpacking trails where you can hike along Pickle Creek and set up camp in the woods. If you are quiet and observant you will find wildlife throughout the park. There is also an orienteering course to challenge your navigation skills with a compass.

An hour’s drive southwest of St. Louis will take you to Meramec State Park where you can camp, paddle, fish, and explore caves. There are several caves within the park that you can explore on your own or you can take a guided tour of Fisher Cave. Fisher Cave has some impressive formations including 30 foot tall columns and cave-dwelling wildlife.

Farther southwest of St. Louis brings you to the popular Johnson Shut-Ins State Park. You can camp near the shut-ins and swim and hike the nearby geological wonders. The shut-ins are pools of water in the igneous and sedimentary boulders connected to the Black River. The park staff at the visitor center will explain the geology of the area and is a great place for children to learn about natural hydraulics.

The five camping areas listed above are a small sampling of what is available to you in Missouri. There are at least 40 Missouri state campgrounds where you can have a variety of outdoor camping experiences. You can research those campgrounds on the Missouri State Parks website.

It’s important to be prepared for any camping or backpacking trip. Alpine Shop has a great backpacking checklist that you can use for shopping and packing. Check out the following list for essential camping items from Alpine Shop:

Water containers to carry pre-filtered water

Water treatment products for natural water sources

Stoves for cooking outdoors


Sleeping bags



GPS devices and compasses

First Aid safety and repair


Make everyday an adventure with Alpine Shop and get outside yourself!

One Reply to “Summer Camping Near St. Louis, Missouri”

  1. Sam A. Baker State Park. Fantastic campground, pretty river, fishing, kayaking & canoeing and some challenging hiking trails over the mountain top. Horse camp and trails. Great park for bicycling. And in Fall and Spring the stream upriver from the park offers challenging canoe/kayak water and nice spots to camp overnight. And the park itself is usually nearly empty then.

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