Primitive Camping Eastern Mo, Il, Ar

I’m trying to plan a trip for sometime in March

We want 3-4 nights.

We want primitive camping where we can just pull up and camp. We don’t want campgrounds.

Good fishing is a plus.

We are trying to find a place somewhere between the middle for us. Two paddlers will be coming from Omaha, Ne., and I’ll be coming from eastern Tn on the Nc border.

Small rivers won’t work because one paddler from Omaha has a 17’ yak and is hard for him to turn. The other has a 14’ and so is mine.

Lake Wappapello in Mo is 8 1/2 hours for a perfect half way point. But when I started researching I found that our camping wishes don’t fit. The only place to camp on the lake that fits our camping style is at 19 different access points with no facilities. We don’t need the facilities. But we are worried about the road access. We don’t want late night partiers come into our camp. At these access points you have to camp within 100’ of the area.

Norfolk and bull shoals would work but can’t find the info on “shore camping”.

Same with Carlyle and Rand lake in Il.

Any ideas???

Also restricted

– Last Updated: Jan-04-16 2:34 PM EST –

To the best of my knowledge you will only be able to camp "legally" at established sights. All of the Missouri resevoirs are man made bodies of water and all of the land around them is either privately owned or owned and administered by the Corps of Engineers. They simply do not allow wilderness or primitive camping. Not sure about the portion of Bull Shoals that lies in Arkansas but probably the same.

Shore camping is allowed along all of Missouri's navigatable streams.

Navigatable is somewhat debatable depending on stream side landowners but generally if you can get a canoe or kayak from access A to access B then that stretch of stream is navigatable. No one much argues this point anymore, there was a time when landowners would stretch barb wire across streams to block access.

Public use of stream side land is limited to lands within the path of the stream at normal high water. IE gravel bars, islands, banks.

River paddling will be your best option if shore camping is important to your plans.

Your longer boats may force you to choose one of the larger rivers like the Gasconade.

For a different experince you could paddle the Missouri river anywhere between Boonville and Washington. Your boats would be perfect for paddling the Missouri and normal river levels provide lots of sandbars for camping.

Paddling and tripping on the Missouri is becoming more popular every season because of its secluded wilderness and very limited boat and paddler traffic. See Missouri river watertrail website for info.

or request more info here.


boat camping
Sometimes you have to find your own place to camp. In the West, I often camp where no one else has ever camped, at least not for many years.

A boat provides access. Just make sure that there are no laws specifically preventing you from camping where you want without penalty.

There are other primitive camping option
What about camping on the island on Lake Wappapello? There are 6 developed campsites. No drive by except in a boat. Crappie fishing should be good in March.

Also check at Clearwater lake about 50 miles NW of lake Wappapello. They have some primitive camping areas, but may be close to road.

Sam A Baker State Park has camping also.


Thanks for the suggestions.

Leanings towards Il
Looks like we’ve settled on The Big Muddy River in IL. Looking at putting in at turkey bayou below murphysboror. It looks like there is the Shawnee national forest that runs through there. From what I can tell, we should be able to pull up there and primitive camp. It also looks like Cedar Creek (?) feeds into the big muddy. From Google earth it looks like we can also paddle up this a way. …

If it isn’t too hard to paddle up the big muddy we going to go down to the Mississippi River and back. I guess we’ll figure all that out when we get there. We don’t want many plans…