Friday, 09 March 2012 11:27

Best Bets for sleeping under the stars

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With the start of a new school year comes meetings, homework, sports and more, and finding quality time as a family can be a challenge.  If a weekend camping trip is in order, the St. Louis area offers plenty of spots to relax and reconnect with nature and one another.

St. Louis County Parks
St. Louis County Parks offer several campgrounds. Situated at the foothills of the gentle Ozark mountains, Greensfelder Park (4515 Hencken Road, St. Louis, Mo., 63069) provides a great change of scenery. Sioux Passage Park (17930 Old Jamestown Road, St. Louis, Mo., 63034) offers horseback riding and fishing, as well as boat access to the Missouri River. Steep bluffs, rugged woods and prairie grasses make West Tyson Park (131 N. Outer Road East, St. Louis, Mo., 63025) a perfect spot to unwind. Campsites vary from $10 to $25/night; camping lodges range from $30 to $50/night.. Visit stlouisco.com/ParksandRecreation or call 314-615-4FUN.

St. Charles County Parks
Klondike Park, located on Hwy. 94 South between Defiance and Augusta, offers river access and sweeping views of the Missouri River Valley. Tent sites start at $7; cabins are $65. Visit the parks website or call 636-949-7535.

Missouri State Parks
Missouri's state parks include numerous amenities, making them a great option for seasoned campers, camping newbies and those with young children. State park campsites start at $12 in the off-season and $13 during peak season, as well as an $8.50 reservation fee. Visit mostateparks.com or call 1-877-422-6766.

Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park (800 Guy Park Drive, Wildwood, Mo., 63005) offers hiking, biking and equestrian trails, as well as examples of Civilian Conservation Corps architecture. Basic and electric campsites are available.

With picturesque shut-ins, wildflowers and the Whispering Pine Trail, Hawn State Park (12096 Park Drive, Ste. Genevieve, Mo., 63670 is a great place to beat spring fever. Basic and electric campsites are available.

Although it's a bit of a drive, Meramec State Park (115 Meramec Park Drive, Sullivan, Mo., 63080) has everything an adventurous family could want, from swimming to spelunking, as well as basic, electric, and basic/sewer/electric campsites. The park also offers cabins, motel rooms and dining operated by a private concessionaire; call 573-468-6519 for more information about these facilities.

Missouri Department of Conservation
For those looking for a true outdoors experience, the Conservation Department has numerous sites. The Daniel Boone Conservation Area in western Warren County, for example, remains much as it was during Daniel Boone's day. Flora and wildlife are abundant and camping is free. These sites typically include a flat area to set up a tent and a fire ring, but there is no running water, electrical hookups or firewood for purchase, nor do they have personnel on duty, so camping in conservation areas is for seasoned campers and might not be a good choice for families with young children. Also, some sites are not open during the summer months. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov or call 636-441-4554.

Pere Marquette State Park
Its history, natural beauty and proximity to the Great River Road attract visitors to Pere Marquette State Park year-round. This state park, which is maintained by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, also offers a 1930s-era lodge, complete with dining and an indoor pool. Although a shower facility, water hydrants and a sewer dump station are available, individual campsites do not include water or sewer. To reserve a campsite, visit www.reserveamerica.com. For lodge reservations call 618-786-2331 or visit dnr.illinois.gov. Pere Marquette is located at 13112 Visitor Center Lane, Grafton, Ill., 62037.

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Last modified on Sunday, 03 August 2014 20:05
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