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The Guide: Camping near CoMo

Six choices for camping within 30 minutes of Columbia

July 5, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST

View The Guide: Columbia Campsites in a larger map

Cooper’s Landing Campgrounds Store and Marina

Where: 11505 Smith Hatchery Road
Cost: $10-plus
Call: 657-2544
Type: Tent, RV, camper/trailer
Amenities: During store hours, campers can get food and beverages from the camp store or from the two kitchens on the grounds. One serves barbecue and the other Thai food. Each tent area has fire pits for campers’ use. For anyone towing a boat, a ramp is available, and annual memberships for the ramp may be purchased in the office. The stage by the river hosts live music four or five times a week. The only wireless Internet access is in the convenience store, and electricity is available at some sites for RV usage. Canoes and boats are not for rent at the grounds, but campers can bring their own.
What’s nearby: The campgrounds are right on the Missouri River and the Katy Trail. Guests coming off the trail are always welcome to stop and rest for the night before heading out in the morning.
What’s the scoop: Cooper’s Landing is the only marina on the Missouri River, and all sites are practically on the riverbank. Although there are designated spaces for each type of camp, tent spaces are among the trees rather than on individual plots. Pets and outside food are not allowed on the grounds. Although Cooper’s Landing has never had to turn away tent campers, reservations are recommended for RV and camper sites. Cooper’s Landing is a family campground, so rowdy groups and behavior aren’t tolerated.

Cottonwoods RV Park

Where: 5710 Oakland Gravel Road
Cost: $29.70-plus
Call: 474-2747
Type: RV, camper with a few tent sites
Amenities: Guests at Cottonwoods RV Park can use the on-site pool, laundry and shower facilities. The park also has a playground and pavilions. For large groups, there is a banquet facility available for rent. The park employees also pick up trash in the park as long as it is in one of the designated containers located along the main roads. The entire park is connected to WiFi and has limited electricity.
What’s nearby: The park is only a short drive from downtown Columbia and surrounding colleges.
What’s the scoop: Near the Boone County Fairgrounds, the park itself is fairly quiet, but campers can hear the constant whirring of cars and trucks on Highway 63, which is just a short jog up the road. Cottonwoods does not offer the enchantment of a forest but is more a place to park and hook up to electricity for the night. Open fires are not allowed on the RV sites. Overall, the grounds are very clean and offer plenty of amenities, but the park would be preferable for RV stays rather than pitching a tent to camp.

Finger Lakes State Park

Where: 1505 E. Peabody Road
Cost: $10-plus
Call: 443-5315
Type: Tent, RV, campers
Amenities: All Finger Lakes campsites now offer WiFi on-site. Although some sites are primitive, or without electricity, some are available with electric hookups for those arriving in campers or RVs. The park also has a dump station for RVs to get rid of waste. The campsites center around the shower house and several points where guests can get water. Grills and fire pits are located by all sites for camper use. A motocross track is located on park grounds and is available for personal use and events. On-site canoe rentals are also available.
What’s nearby: The 1,131-acre park not only houses campsites but is also home to several activities for campers. The lake atmosphere offers typical water sports, such as swimming, fishing and canoeing. Rocky Fork Conservation Area is located just up Peabody Road and offers a shooting range and more opportunities for fishing and boating.
What’s the scoop: Far enough off Highway 63, the state park provides a quiet escape from urban life. The shadow of the trees and glassy lakes create a peaceful landscape. The sound of motocross bikes might wake campers up in the morning, though. The setup is good for group camping, as each site neighbors several others. This state park is perfect for people who want plenty of outdoor activities in one area.

Hanson Hills Campground (formerly Crooked Creek Campground)

Where: 3643 County Road 221, Kingdom City
Cost: $15-plus
Call: 642-8600
Type: Tent, RV, Campers (available for rent)
Amenities: Full hookups for RVs are available. On site, there is a pool, two playgrounds, a basketball court, shuffleboard and a recreation room containing air hockey and pool tables. WiFi is available on the grounds. During three-day weekends, such as Memorial Day and Labor Day, Hanson Hills offers family activities such as sack races and scavenger hunts. The office doubles as a little store filled with camping essentials including bug spray
and charcoal.
What’s nearby: There are several hiking trails around the campsites. Little Dixie Lake is only two miles away. Hanson Hills also has hunting leases available during hunting seasons with an on-site taxidermist.
What’s the scoop: Down a gravel road off Interstate 70, Hanson Hills offers family-oriented camping. Towering trees provide shade for every site. Besides the occasional car pulling into the drive, the only sounds are those of children playing. Because of demand for space on activity weekends, reservations are required for a three-day weekend but not for any other stay. Although there are always things going on, the grounds are not intended for a party scene. During their stay, campers can choose to kick back and relax or pack their schedule with activities.

Katfish Katy Campground

Where: 8825 W. Sarr St.
Cost: $15-plus
Call: 445-0047
Type: RV and tent
Amenities: RV sites have electric and water hookups as well as a dump station on the grounds. Showers and toilets are located closer to the main road at the store. The camp store, which is open on the weekends, is stocked with candy, cigarettes and various fresh fruits. Every Sunday there is live music on the grounds from 1 to 5 p.m. Burgers and hot dogs are sold during some live performances.
What’s nearby: The Katy Trail runs right along the campgrounds, and the grounds sit on the edge of the Missouri River. Biking and hiking trails run between the neighboring town, Huntsdale, and the grounds.
What’s the scoop: Upon reaching the campground entrance, campers must travel down a gravel road through a pasture to reach the tree-lined Missouri River. Although each of the sites sit on the edge of the river, the tent areas have more privacy and shade, as they rest behind a line of trees. The RV stations sacrifice shade and privacy for the hookups closer to the road. Katfish Katy is far enough from main traffic to avoid bothersome noise and create an enjoyable river atmosphere for campers. It’s most suitable for those interested in trail and river activities.

Three Creeks Conservation Area

Where: South Highway 63, west 1.75 miles on Deer Park Road
Cost: Free
Call: 815-7901, ext. 3480
Type: Walk-in tent
Amenities: Because the property is unstaffed and closed at times, amenities are not available to campers.
What’s nearby: Hiking and bird watching are available on the grounds. Even though the Missouri River does not run through the site, there are creeks running through the area to provide water and fishing activities. There are also limited equestrian opportunities.
What’s the scoop: Since there is not a main office on the grounds, guests park in the designated lots then hike out and camp anywhere in the forest. During hunting season, the grounds are closed except to hunters, so the only camping allowed is on the parking lots and along roads. Large groups must get a permit from the Department of Conservation. Because the camping style is walk-in, inexperienced campers are not encouraged.

Editor’s note: Rates can vary depending on season, day of the week, party size and site amenities at many campgrounds.

Watch below to learn how to set up a tent for your campsite.

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