9 Best Free Camping Spots in Missouri

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The St. Louis arch in Missouri, near a few free camping spots

You’ve come to the right place if you want free camping in Missouri. You might be from the midwest and want to camp closer to home this year. Or maybe you’ll pass through and need some options along the way.

Or, perhaps you want to explore the great Show-Me State? Indulge in some delicious barbeque, see its many rivers and caves, or listen to its blues and jazz music. Kansas City and St. Louis are also big cities worth a visit.

Whatever your reason for visiting, we’ve pulled together free camping in Missouri options just for you.

Can You Camp for Free in Missouri?

Around one-third of Missouri’s land is wooded  — or 15.5 million acres. The government owns 15%, making for plenty of free camping in Missouri. 

The Mark Twain National Forest takes up 1.5 million acres, covering 29 counties. The Missouri Department of Fish & Wildlife and ​​the Missouri Department of Natural Resources own land with several primitive camping areas. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation also offers “open” or dispersed camping.

This means It doesn’t have designated campsites, though you should camp at least 100 yds from parking lots and roads.

When Is the Best Time to Camp in Missouri?

Since Missouri’s a midwestern state, we’d recommend camping during the warmer months.

Camping during late spring through early fall doesn’t guarantee you’ll steer clear of cold temperatures and inclement weather, but the odds are in your favor. 

However, several of these free camping spots in Missouri stay open year-round.

If you fancy winter camping, be our guest and plan to camp in Missouri during the winter.

Or better yet, plan to stay overnight in the fall as you head south to hibernate for the winter.

9 Best Free Camping Spots in Missouri

From city campgrounds to national forest spots, Missouri has a surprising amount of free camping located throughout the state.

All of these are first-come-first-served and don’t have reservations. Here are our top picks.

1. Berryman Campground

Address: Berryman Rd, Potosi, MO 63664

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: 21’

This Mark Twain National Forest campground offers eight paved campsites. Each has a picnic table, lantern post, and a fire pit.

It has a vault toilet on site but no potable water, hook-ups, or dump station.

It’s open year-round and features three picnic areas with a pavilion.

You’ll find several trailheads for hiking and mountain biking, too. 

2. Whetstone Creek Conservation Area

Address: CR-1003, Williamsburg, MO 63388

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: No restrictions listed, but the longest reported is 35’ from an online reviewer.

Whetstone Creek, a primitive camping area with no hook-ups, lies east of Columbia off Interstate 70.

You’ll find a gravel lot where you can park and some campsites with picnic tables and fire pits. It has vault toilets but no other amenities.

This free camping area in Missouri is next to Big Lake and several ponds where you can fish.

Plus, you can use the nearby boat ramp and access trail. You’ll also find a shooting range within the 5,208-acre conservation area.

Whetstone Creek, one of the free camping spots in missouri
Source: Missouri Department of Conservation

3. Thomas Hill Reservoir

Address: 23119 State Highway T, Excello, MO 65247

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: No restrictions listed, but the longest reported is 40’ from an online reviewer

If you’re in northeast Missouri, head to Macon County to enjoy free camping.

Although it doesn’t have hookups, you’ll find gravel-pad campsites with picnic tables, shade structures, and fire rings.

It has two water spigots within the campground and vault toilets.

You can also use the fishing pier, boat ramps, and fish-cleaning station.

You can stay up to 14 consecutive days.

Keep in Mind: With summer around the corner, you need to visit RV resorts on the coast. Check out these 10 best coast to coast RV resorts!

4. Dockery Park

Address: 611 Park St, Gallatin, MO 64640

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: No restrictions are listed, but the longest reported is 36’ from an online reviewer.

This northern Missouri city campground offers the most amenities on this list: water and electric hook-ups.

That’s right, two spots have these amenities, and additional tent sites have 15 amp plug-ins.

Plus, you’ll have plenty to keep your family occupied once you set up, such as the playgrounds, picturesque gazebo, tree swing, and pond.

Expect level sites in this well-maintained park. And it has vaulted toilets and a dumpster.

This free camping option in Missouri may make a perfect spot for a weekend getaway.

View of the Missouri River near a free camping in missouri

5. Grand Trace State Forest

Address: West State Hwy F, Bethany, MO 64424

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: No restrictions are listed, but the longest reported is 43’ from an online reviewer.

The Grand Trace State Forest encompasses over 5,000 acres.

It has a primitive camping area with room for a couple of larger RVs and a handful of smaller back-in sites.

You won’t find any amenities except for fire pits, but you can expect a quiet spot of nature to call home for the night.

Before settling in, enjoy fishing in the nearby pond, which you can hike to via the access trail.

6. Hunnewell Lake Conservation Area

Address: 6503 State Hwy Z, Hunnewell, MO 63443

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: No restrictions are listed, but several online reviewers report the area as big-rig friendly.

Talk about a hidden gem. With views of Hunnewell Lake, this camping area has around 20 pull-through, dry camping sites with fire rings and picnic tables.

It also has a dump station and potable water. The campground is open year-round.

Several campers have reported sloped campsites, so ensure you bring those leveling blocks.

It even has complimentary rowboats you can use onsite.

And you can pick nuts, berries, and fruits for personal consumption.

You can stay up to 14 consecutive days here.

7. Hurricane Access Area Primitive Camping

Address: Sterling Harbor Rd, Elsberry, MO 63343

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: No restrictions listed

This Army Corps of Engineers camping area off Route M offers two sites, available for up to 14 days.

These spots work best for those with four-wheel-drive vehicles; this is an access point to the Mississippi River and can be challenging to drive to.

It has a single-lane boat ramp.

These primitive free camping sites in Missouri have no hookups or amenities. 

Keep in Mind: Mark Tain National Forest is worth the visit while In Missouri! Here are a few things to do in Mark Twain National Forest!

8. Happy Holler Conservation Area

Address: County Road 193, Savannah, MO 64485

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: No restrictions listed, but online reviewers report it as big-rig friendly.

The Happy Holler Conservation Area has several areas of primitive free camping located in the northwest corner of Missouri.

This specific one is in the south tract, a large graveled lot with no amenities.

But, its large size and level nature make it an easy place to pull in for your stay.

Around the area, you’ll find ponds, a fishing dock, and a boat ramp.

9. Rochester Falls Access

Address: US Hwy 169, Helena, MO 64459

Fee: Free

Max RV Length: There are no restrictions, but the longest reported is 40’ by an online reviewer.

Located near St. Joseph in northwest Missouri off the Platte River, this DNR campground has marked campsites with gravel pads.

Some have picnic tables and fire pits, and you can use the pit toilets and dumpster.

This area offers dry camping with no dump station or potable water.

View of a Platte River near a free camping spot in missouri

Where Will You Stay in the Show-Me State?

Wherever your travels take you, you can find options for free camping in Missouri throughout the state.

We’ve listed just a handful of the many options available. But we think you’ll find what you’re looking for, free camping for all sizes of RVs that are easy to get to.

Plus, some have fun things to do on-site or nearby. And free camping doesn’t always mean no amenities, as some even offer hook-ups.

Whether you need a spot for an overnight stay or your week-long vacation, these options may make a good fit.

What’s your favorite free camping spot in Missouri?

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