St. Louis—It’s not every night you can camp out and enjoy a night of fun and adventure at the confluence of two of the world’s largest rivers. That’s what makes this year’s Discover Nature Families: Confluence Campout unique.
The overnight event is being held once again at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25.
Sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), it offers the chance to experience the area in a whole new way.
“It’s an opportunity for families to camp out on Columbia Bottom and learn some outdoor skills,” said Natalie Johnson. Johnson is a naturalist at Columbia Bottom and is involved in planning the campout.
Check in for the campout begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. Families of all outdoor skill levels—beginners to experienced adventurers—are welcome. Participants are asked to bring their own sleeping bags, along with suitable clothing for the weather. However, staff at Columbia Bottom can offer a limited number of tents for loan—on a first-come, first-served basis—to those who do not have their own.
Campers will set up near the confluence where the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers join together.
“Just being able to be out on Columbia Bottom at night, near the rivers….that’s a pretty neat experience,” said Johnson.
The event is perfect for beginning campers, since knowledgeable staff will be on hand to help get everything up and going.
“It’s really a family event and if people have never gone camping before, it really gives them the opportunity,” Johnson added.
Outdoor adventures on Saturday include “Let’s Get Cooking!” where everybody can try their hand at preparing and enjoying meals over an open fire, naturalist-lead evening hikes, and dessert time around the campfire.
Sunday morning, participants can venture out on a sunrise bird hike, and then choose from birdhouse making or a geocaching adventure.
Dinner Saturday night and breakfast Sunday morning will be included. All activities will wrap up by noon on Sunday.
Johnson hopes the Confluence Campout will help newcomers to the outdoors put aside any concerns they might have about getting into nature.
“I hope that they won’t be intimidated by the outdoors,” Johnson said, “that they can look at this and say I can do this with my family and be encouraged to get back out there and try it again.”
The Discover Nature Families: Confluence Campout is free. Advanced registration, and a $15 registration deposit—refundable Sunday morning—are required. To request a registration packet, call the Columbia Bottom visitor center at 314-877-6014. The visitor center is open Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Completed registration packets are due by noon on Friday, Sept. 16.
Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is located at 801 Strodtman Road, about three miles north of I-270 off Riverview Drive. The 4,318-acre site is owned and managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation.