Missouri State Park Centennial
Have you heard of the Missouri State Park Centennial challenge? Missouri released a stamp booklet and is challenging families to visit all 88 of Missouri’s state parks and we are trying. Maybe. Sort of. We started it at least.
The initial months of this program were rocky, with people driving hours to park offices which were closed, or arriving at understaffed parks without stamps at all.
Since then, the park system has improved the process and includes verification signs you can take a picture of or write down codes, then call into the MO state park office to be mailed your stamp if needed.
We’ve visited 19 state park sites since getting our book at Echo Bluff in October. It’s amazing the varying size and facilities of the state park systems, from unmonitored fields with a placard, to elaborate campgrounds, facilities, and even pools.
The other piece we have yet to start is the Missouri State Park camper award for camping in 5 of Missouri’s state parks. We have some reservations on the horizons to work toward that goal.
I’m not sure if we will actually make it to all 88 parks, but we were able to fit quite a few into our 3 day weekend in the Kansas City area.
Pomme de Terre Lake State Park
In route to KC, we stopped to stretch in Pomme de Terre Lake state park. The 200+ campsites are spread across two campgrounds, and you’ll have to check the map closely because some are closer to the water than others, some are primitive, non-electric, some are electric only, and a few (20) have water and electric.
Pomme de Terre state park has a nice marina, and is known for fishing (especially muskie). However, what really caught my eye was the large swim beach. I wish Old 86 on Table Rock had even half that much sand and space for families to spread out and enjoy the water.
My mom said we visited here as kids, but I can’t quite pull that one from the memory bank. For today, it was a perfect lunch and stretch spot for the kids and then we continued northward.
Harry S Truman Lake State Park
Our next stop was up the highway at Harry S. Truman Lake State Park. We had a little trouble parking the SUV and camper at the trailhead parking, but managed to get a nice afternoon hike in on the 1000th Mile Trail alongside the lake. (1 mile, easy walk, family / dog friendly)
Similar to Pomme de Terre, there are six campgrounds spread out totaling 117 electric sites and 60 primitive, non-electric sites. We also saw a playground, marina, and plenty of people fishing (bass mostly), and another nice beach. I’m thinking maybe Table Rock floods so often that the beaches are harder to maintain?
Lewis and Clark State Park
The following morning we headed north of KC to Lewis and Clark State Park. This is yet another MO SP on a lake, this time an oxbow lake of the Missouri River.
We happened to visit during a white pelican migration which was fantastic to see. There’re were hundreds of pelicans in and above the water. It was very hard to capture with my phone, and most of the pelicans were on the water away from the state park and toward the residential end of the lake.
This state park had a small, clean looking campground (62 electric sites) and a small, paved interpretive trail that included information about Lewis and Clark’s expedition (1.1 miles, level and paved).
We listened to a podcast on Lewis and Clark (Stuff You Should Know) en route to boost our background knowledge before our arrival. The 4th grade teacher in me loves any way I can incorporate some additional Missouri history into our trips.
People were fishing for catfish and carp, but I’m not sure it’s much of a fishing destination. It would be a great place for birders to stay, and the neighborhood along the lake looked absolutely darling.
Weston Bend State Park
Between Lewis and Clark State park and Kansas City is Weston Bend State Park. Also along the Missouri River, it is a much larger park than L&C, with a small campground (37 electric only sites) and a more developed series of hiking trails.
We hiked the Harpst Trail (only 0.7 mi but some elevation change that might be challenging). This trail provides some beautiful views of the Missouri River and the surrounding forest.
Unfortunately, my car wouldn’t start after the hike and some friendly people gave us a jump start then followed us to make sure we made it the 9 miles into town to get a new battery. I am so grateful this happened at a busier and not too remote hike, as we have been way, way further from civilization before without seeing anyone for hours.
Upon returning home, I felt so frustrated with my car and even went out and test drove a couple of new (to me) ones. Turns out, if I were to list what I want in a car (tow capacity, leather, sunroof, roof rack), I’m just describing the car I already have.
However, with Josh spending the following weekend replacing brakes, cleaning valves and terminals, checking fuses, adding fuel injector cleaner, and nearly breaking a finger (see ice pack above), the Suzuki’s running great again.
After a tough weekend of labor, all but the cigarette lighter / cell phone power source isn’t working. But I’m sure Josh can Google how to fix that too.