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Car camping near Kansas CIty
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ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Car camping near Kansas CIty on 09/24/2011 20:57:33 MDT Print View

Hey yo. Anyone know of any decent car camping areas near Kansas City? 2-3 hrs? I'm not really looking for a state park with all the paved campsites and such. more like a trailhead at a wilderness area.

if anyone has any thoughts or ideas they would be greatly appreciated.


Troy Pratten
(TJGator) - F

Locale: The Middle of Big 12-3+1 Country
I have the same question, really. on 10/11/2011 20:28:37 MDT Print View

My wife and I moved to the KC area within the past year, and the easiest way to find camping has been the MO State Parks--which have a great website.

We actually enjoy the state park car camping well enough--and Weston Bend State Park has a relatively small campground.

Also, I've had my eye on Wallace State Park. Haven't been there yet, but the website shows that it has some walk-in sites within the main campground. Might be a good way to do some car camping at a state park without having a parking space in your campsite. About an hour north of KC.

Edited by TJGator on 10/11/2011 20:36:32 MDT.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
RE:" Car camping near Kansas CIty" on 10/11/2011 21:05:34 MDT Print View

Weston Bend State Park is a nice place for a day hike with some elevation change on the trail. However, it doesn't meet the trailhead/backcountry camp criteria.

The George Latham Trail over at Clinton Lake in Lawrence has a 4 to 5 mile loop with a few "backcountry" campsites.

Your best bet is to head into MO and hike some of the longer distance trails (see but you are getting farther away than your 3 hour limit (more like 4 to 5 hours away).

The Elk River trail (3 hours from KC) is supposed to be nice but I've never been on it.

Of course there is the Katy Trail... believe there was a trip report from a BPL member here on a thru hike of this trail. While camping is not permitted along the trail I would expect you could find some locations that work...

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Car camping near Kansas CIty on 10/11/2011 21:44:36 MDT Print View

2-3 hours is tough. We just moved to Lenexa from Rolla, MO and we still go back to that area for camping/hiking. If you can stretch to 5 hours you'll have a world of opportunities. One of the best places to go for car camping is Council Bluff Lake. You can go fishing, they have a beach, and there's a 12 mile loop around the lake. It doesn't get nearly as much traffic as the state parks either. There's also the Paddy Creek Wilderness which I've seen equestrians camped at, the Berryman Trail has a nice campground, Powder Mill on the Current River has a campground with a really beautiful spring a short walk away. If you're open to extended your drive time, I can send you a long list of places you might be interested in.

One place that surprised me was Prairie State Park just north of Joplin, MO. Its 2-2.5 hours south of KC and is a real tall grass prairie with wild buffalo and was really interesting to hike. There aren't a lot of trails but there is a campground and it wasn't busy at all when I went there, I think I may have been the only non-employee in the park.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Car camping near Kansas CIty on 10/11/2011 22:41:10 MDT Print View

Under just about any overpass or bridge ;)

ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: Re: Car camping near Kansas CIty on 10/12/2011 08:17:16 MDT Print View

thanks guys.

I did go backpacking in the ozarks earlier this year on the OHT. it was pretty nice. I'm really looking for places to take the family. My wife isn't much into it, but my daughters sure are. They are young and it's so much easier to car camp and then hike around than hike in.

I'll look up some of the places you guys have listed.

Adam, have you ever been to Arrow Rock? I've heard it is pretty nice as well and am thinking of going out this friday..

thanks for all your help guys

Brad Burr
(bradjburr) - M

Locale: Kansas City Area
Wilderness Areas on 10/12/2011 08:46:11 MDT Print View

KC is 4-5 hours away from any wilderness areas. Hercules Glades Wilderness is about a 4 hour drive. The others are around 5-6 hours. Below is a link to the forest service Hercules Glades info.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Re: Re: Car camping near Kansas CIty on 10/12/2011 16:10:31 MDT Print View

My wife and I went to a play at Arrow Rock last year but didn't have time to really explore it much. It seems like an interesting place though but we've been meaning to get back to check it out.

I've been up to Weston Bend SP and liked it and have heard good things about Wallace SP as well. Both are very close to KC.


Ryan Elsey
(paintballswimguy) - F

Locale: Kansas City
Johnson shut ins on 12/20/2011 14:48:28 MST Print View

Johnson shut ins state park is one of my favorite for car camping.

Curtis Ware
(ware_curtis) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Car camping near KC on 12/20/2011 16:23:43 MST Print View

Having lived in or near Joplin all my life ... I can say +1 on Elk River Trail. (pictures on
Gps coordinates on

Also Huckleberry Ridge State park is another great place to get away

Prairie State park has a " backpackers" camp but since they moved it , it's noisy

Not sure how far Ha Ha Tonka State park is from KC, but it is also nice