When we did our preliminary itinerary for this road trip, we planned a stop at Van Meter State Park. It's reputed to be not particularly busy, at least not for camping, with a fairly small campground (only 22 sites on a single loop), but it also sounded interesting. It was the site of a Native American settlement and has what is said to be a nice little museum. As it turned out, we had been overly optimistic about how far we could get before running out of daylight at this time of year. We wound up looking for a site at Crowder State Park instead.
Like a lot of Missouri parks, Crowder is located next to water. I'm not sure what the river is (and am too lazy to Google it at the moment), but there's a backwater/slough/sort of lake in the day use area. There's a small beach for swimming. I have no clue just how popular that beach is in the summer. The day use area looked nice, but the water had kind of an ominous quality. Do they have alligators in Missouri? I know they have humongous snapping turtles. Still, if you're local and used to water looking a tad murky, wading and/or swimming at Crowder probably wouldn't faze you. I, however, am used to the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior. Brown water makes me nervous.
|A few campers had gotten into the Halloween spirit.|
I had actually looked up Crowder on-line as a possibility so knew it's popular with families. Pulling in there on Halloween weekend when the weather has been so unseasonably warm made me a little nervous. A number of the state parks do plan Halloween activities for families; I had no idea if Crowder did. As it turned out, the campground was looking pretty full. All the electric sites were taken. We did find a basic site that also happened to be a pull-through, a definite plus when we planned to be there for just one night. I figure one reason it was vacant was it was close to the privies.
There was several back-in sites close by that were also vacant. It was kind of the reverse of what we'd seen at Montauk. At Montauk, the people who did first come, first serve in the basic loop liked being close to the toilets. At Crowder, it was like those were the last sites that were going to fill up. Odd, but it worked out okay for us. There was also a water faucet close by, so for a couple of geezers it was a remarkably convenient site. No long walks for anything.
Then again, it's possible those sites were among the least desirable because whoever used them would have to do some blocking. They had more slope than usual. One thing a person camping at Crowder will never have to worry about is flooding -- the campground perches on top of a hill. Even on the pull-through site the Guppy had a distinct list. Not enough to worry about for just one night, but definitely a list.
The one quibble I might have about Crowder is the layout seemed a little tight. The sites seemed close to each other and the parking pads looked short. I have no idea when the campground was put in, but it struck me as being from the days before Leviathans (gigantor Class A motorhomes) and humongous 5th wheels with multiple slide-outs. It's a great park for people who like to tent camp, have a pop-up, or smaller trailers and motorhomes; it might a tad claustrophobic for someone who insists on camping using large equipment.
Bottom line: This wasn't a park we'd planned on visiting, but it turned out to be one we'd stop at again if we happened to be close-by while traveling.