Camping

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camping
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Camping is a great way to unplug, recharge, and connect with nature. More than 300 of Missouri’s conservation areas offer camping for those looking for a more adventurous, primitive experience. All camping on conservation areas is free, and most camping is first come, first served. Be sure to have a backup plan in case the spot where you want to camp is already occupied.

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Guidelines for Camping on MDC Areas

Check the Dates

Be aware of hunting seasons. Some areas will be busier during these seasons and may have temporary trail or road closures. Also, some areas expand or restrict camping during firearm hunting seasons.

Bring Your Own Necessities

Sometimes designated campgrounds will provide fire rings, picnic tables, dumpsters, and latrines, but more often camping on conservation areas is primitive with little or no facilities provided. Also, no RV hookups are provided at any department area. Campers should expect to bring their own water.

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Before You Go

Before planning a trip in the spring or fall, check Places to Go for information on the specific conservation area where you wish to camp to see if the area allows camping or has restrictions during hunting seasons.

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Know The Rules
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  • Campers can stay up to 14 consecutive days in any 30-day period and must remove all personal property at the end of the 14-day period. Each camper is limited to 30 total camping days within one calendar year on all department lands.
  • On those areas with established campsites, only two camping or sleeping units are permitted in each site.
  • Walk-in (dispersed) campers should camp at least 100 yards from parking lots and roads.
  • Pack out at least as much as you pack in, and don’t burn trash in campfires.
  • Check the regulations for the specific area where you want to camp. Some areas allow open dispersed camping (walk-in-, float-in-, or backpack-type camping) while others allow camping only in designated sites. Some areas require a special use permit for all camping.
  • Groups of more than 10 people camping on conservation lands must obtain a special use permit.
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Respect Your Neighbors

Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. Visitors who are not occupying a campsite must leave the campground by 10 p.m. During quiet hours, campers should not make any excessive noise, both personally or with mechanical devices, that disturbs other campers.

Keep Fire Contained; Use Local Firewood

Know how to keep from starting a wildfire when you camp. Visit Make Your Camp Firewise for guidelines, and remember to use local firewood for campfires to keep from spreading tree-killing pests and diseases across the state.

Properly Dispose of Human Waste

If no latrine is available at your campsite, follow these steps to properly dispose of human waste:

  • Choose a spot that is at least 200 feet away from a trail, water source, or campsite.
  • Make a hole about 4 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches deep to contain the waste.
  • When finished, completely cover the hole, and do not leave any toilet paper visible on top of the ground.
Be Bear Aware

While black bear attacks are extremely rare, it’s wise to follow a few precautions now that these bears have made a comeback in Missouri. Visit Camping and Hiking in Black Bear Country to learn ways to stay safe when camping and hiking where there might be black bears.

Plan For Emergencies

Bring a first aid kit, and have a plan in place in case of emergency. Remember that you are responsible for your safety and the safety of those around you.

Report Misuse

To report any misuse of the area, contact the Conservation Agent assigned to the county where you observed the issue.

Great Places For Camping

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Prairie
Daviess
Gallatin Conservation Area is in Daviess County, five miles south of Gallatin on Highway 13 and

Events

Find events near you.
Registration period: June 1 - August 1
Date: Monday, August 5, 2024 12:00 pm - Monday, August 5, 2024 1:30 pm
Location: Shaw Nature Reserve

This event will cover simple fire making methods, cooking utensils, food options and how to cook using stainless steel cookware. Toward the end of the program, participants will have an opportunity to put into practice what they’ve learned.

All planning to attend the event should register separately. Children younger than fifteen years of age must be accompanied by an adult. If you have any questions, please contact the host.

Registration period: April 15 - August 6
Date: Wednesday, August 7, 2024 12:00 pm - Wednesday, August 7, 2024 1:00 pm
Location: Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center
This virtual program is part seven of a multi part series on primitive skills and bushcraft. In part seven, "Shelters” learn skills and tips on how to find or make shelters to get out of the elements for camping or in emergencies! Start time will be 12:05 PM using the Webex platform and all registered participants will receive a link with the log in information 24 hours prior to the event.
Registration period: April 15 - September 3
Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2024 12:00 pm - Wednesday, September 4, 2024 1:00 pm
Location: Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center
This virtual program is part nine of a multi part series on primitive skills and bushcraft. In part nine, "Water and Cooking Rough” lean how to identify and purify water sources and how to cook food “rough” in camping and in emergencies! Start time will be 12:05 PM using the Webex platform and all registered participants will receive a link with the log in information 24 hours prior to the event.
Date: Friday, September 6, 2024 12:00 pm - Saturday, September 7, 2024 5:00 pm
Location: Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center
Registration required beginning July 22 and ending on August 26 by visiting www.wondersofwildlife.org/education/wow-school (ages 10+) WOW School KC is an annual event that offers a chance for families to experience recreational activities like outdoor cooking, archery and fishing, led by professional instructors. WOW 2024 will be held at Camp Lake of the Woods and will offer an overnight camping experience (Friday) in addition to a day of recreational activities (Saturday). Overnight camping spots are limited. A $10.00 registration fee covers instructors, equipment, meals/snacks and a t-shirt. If accommodations are needed, please e-mail the instructor at least one week prior to the program.
Registration period: July 6 - September 5
Date: Saturday, September 7, 2024 5:00 pm - Saturday, September 7, 2024 10:00 pm
Location: Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center

MEET AT LITTLE COMPTON LAKE CONSERVATION AREA for an evening of outdoor fun with an overnight camping option. Enjoy archery, fishing, (dinner break), a slide show on dark skies and a tour of the stars with telescopes from (TBD).

*This is a (Class 3) dark sky area. For comparison, the Blue Springs area is Class 5-6, two-three classes brighter. Little Compton Lake CA is about a 2-hour drive northeast of Blue Springs, MO. *Archery/fishing equipment will be provided by MDC for this program. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD, WATER AND CAMPING GEAR IF YOU CHOOSE TO CAMP FOR THE NIGHT. MO fishing rules apply: 65 and older and under 16 don’t need a license. There is a privy and large gravel parking lot with larger flat mowed area around it (NO ELECTRICITY). It is an MDC area, so no fees to camp. Area regulations say dogs must be leashed.

Archery and fishing programs offered from 5:00PM - 6:30PM. Then, we break for dinner.

People may chose to fish again after they eat.

Dark Skies/Astronomy program from 8:30-10:30PM.

People may choose to camp or drive home after that.

Registration period: July 12 - September 10
Date: Wednesday, September 11, 2024 12:00 pm - Wednesday, September 11, 2024 12:30 pm
Location: Online only
Now when the weather begins to turn cooler, it is a great time to get out and enjoy our wonderful outdoors. Camping is a great way to unplug, recharge, and reconnect with nature. We will discuss some great MDC locations you can camp and the rules and regulations for camp on our conservation areas.
Registration period: April 15 - September 17
Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2024 12:00 pm - Wednesday, September 18, 2024 1:00 pm
Location: Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center
This virtual program is part ten of a multi part series on primitive skills and bushcraft. In part ten, "Foraging by A. J. Hendershot” lean how to identify and use specific wild plants while camping or in an emergency! Start time will be 12:05 PM using the Webex platform and all registered participants will receive a link with the log in information 24 hours prior to the event.
Registration period: April 19 - September 21
Date: Saturday, September 21, 2024 9:00 am - Saturday, September 21, 2024 9:45 am
Location: Cape Girardeau Nature Center

Singing songs by the campfire? Roasting marshmallows? Listening to crickets from inside a tent? The wonderful world of camping is waiting for Missourians to enjoy, and little ones can begin learning about this wonderful pastime in their early years. In this month’s program, learn all about camping and participate in some fun camping-related activities and crafts. Babes in the Woods programs are designed to empower parents to introduce babies and toddlers ages 0–2 years to the sights, sounds, and textures of nature.

Registration period: April 19 - September 21
Date: Saturday, September 21, 2024 10:00 am - Saturday, September 21, 2024 10:45 am
Location: Cape Girardeau Nature Center

Singing songs by the campfire? Roasting marshmallows? Listening to crickets from inside a tent? The wonderful world of camping is waiting for Missourians to enjoy, and little ones can begin learning about this wonderful pastime in their early years. In this month’s program, learn all about camping and participate in some fun camping-related activities and crafts. Babes in the Woods programs are designed to empower parents to introduce babies and toddlers ages 0–2 years to the sights, sounds, and textures of nature.

Registration period: April 19 - September 21
Date: Saturday, September 21, 2024 3:00 pm - Saturday, September 21, 2024 4:30 pm
Location: Cape Girardeau Nature Center
Want to take dove poppers to the next level? Then enjoy learning how to make dove chile rellenos. During this program we’ll learn about what cuts is best to use from a dove along with the best way to make dove chile rellenos.