As full-time RV’ers we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. We love to “Opt Out of Normal”. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, complete with pictures and GPS coordinates.
Missouri is home of the worlds largest fork, the worlds largest goose, and apparently there is a fish on a bike in Missouri. Can only get better from here, right?
The St. Louis Arch is definitely a unique, amazing, beautiful and interesting visit! We’ve been there, and we rode the quirky elevator to the top. I’m not going to give much information about the Arch, as it’s a very popular, not really off the beaten path place, but if you’re going to Missouri, definitely hit that spot. If you like the out of the way, less touristy places, my advice is go on a weekday, not in the summer, and not around any holiday.
Waterfalls! Waterfalls! Waterfalls! They are my happy place. Some people love the beach, or the lake. I am most at peace with myself and the world sitting by a waterfall. There have been many occasions I’ve pretty much had to be dragged away.
Hodgson Mill Waterfall – This is easy access off of Missouri Hwy 181, the Hodgson Mill Waterfall makes for a great photo opportunity. The historic water mill neighboring the falls dates back to the mid 19th century. It is really breathtaking and a great stop.
Rocky Falls – This wonder is located just east of Emminence, in the southern Missouri Ozarks. You can find it near the Current River and Jack’s Fork National Scenic River-ways.
Crooked Creek Falls: Another gem from the Ozarks, this waterfall is located along a path in the Ouachita National Forest near Little Missouri Falls Recreation Area.
The Town of Hannibal has several things to see!
The Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse – Did you know I climbed all 244 steps and then learned there is a back way in? Oh well, it was beautiful to get there, but it’s a lot of steps! Beautiful views! If you can manage the steps, definitely don’t miss this. Don’t miss the Tom Sawyer House complete with the white washed fence. This visit seriously made me want to read the books again! Really fun history! Pretty sure I didn’t walk the next day after that climb! And yes, the two pictures at the bottom are two separate climbs.
Mark Twain Cave – Also in Hannibal, MO. I hadn’t heard of this cave before I went. So I wasn’t sure if this would qualify as off the beaten path, but it was really fun! The cave is near a campground, and we did stay at the campground a night or two. We don’t normally stay in campgrounds, but we really needed to get our tanks dumped, and it was before peak season, so we stayed. There is a fabulous winery right there, with live bands sometimes. We really enjoyed this! Yes, these are real pictures we took. Pretty amazing right? By the way, there is a really neat Geocache near the cave! If you don’t know what Geocaching is, click HERE for our blog about it. You will love it (and if you have kids, they will too.) I’m a big kid so I still love Geocaching.
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge – The old Chain of Rocks Bridge spans the Mississippi River on the north edge of St. Louis, Missouri. The eastern end of the bridge is on Chouteau Island, while the western end is on the Missouri shoreline.
Lake of the Ozarks – This is a pretty popular place, but if you’re looking for some amazing kayaking, check it out. Not going to get too much into this lake because it is a very popular place. But the views from a Kayak are incredible!
Welch Spring Hospital Ruins – Sitting along Missouri’s Current River, the gorgeously abandoned Welch Spring Hospital Ruins once offered healing waters but now simply provides scenic ruin. Due to the eco system, you aren’t supposed to go in the water at all. The story behind this is creepy, unique and a little different. Definitely something off the beaten path and unique!
There is not an exact address. It is located between Cedargrove and Akers on the Upper Current. To drive, go north from Akers on Route K. Turn left on the first gravel road past the Akers Group Camp. At the end of the road, park next to the river and walk a trail north along the river for about a half mile. At the end of the trail you will be able to see the hospital, although you will be across the spring from it.
Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins
Ha Ha Tonka State Park (GPS: 37.97607, -92.76979) is first and foremost a super funny name! It’s a 3,700-acre public recreation area on the Lake of the Ozarks, about 5 miles from Camdenton, Missouri. One of the highlights of the park is the castle ruins which is a European castle ruins in an American state park are actually the story of death and grief. I’ll leave the history for you to check out! But don’t discount fascinating geological features. The natural bridge is over 70 feet wide, and 100 feet high. There are 2 caves. The Robber’s Cave and the Counterfeiter’s Cave – both known to have been hide-outs for 19th-century criminals.
Bonne Terre Mines – We did not visit this, but read about this unique place. It’s on my bucket list for sure! If you like to dive or swim, or just want to explore this place, it’s super fascinating! The mine has been opened as one of the most unique diving areas in the world. Due to the toxic lead particles in the water, nothing can grow rendering the liquid astonishingly clear. Would you feel comfortable swimming in that? I don’t know if I would but I really must see this place! Piercing lights have been installed throughout the caverns illuminating over 100 feet into the waters. Across 24 different diving paths covering 17 miles of subterranean rooms, visitors can swim through the grand arches and towering drowned chambers and you’ve got to see the rusting equipment still at the bottom of the “Billion Gallon Lake.”
A geological formation formed by two rivers carving out a mass of limestone on both sides. The craggy peaks are now a unique and often overlooked landmark, This is north of Columbia. You gotta see this place. It’s a real treat! There is a rocky archways, limestone boulders and carved out shelves make the site excellent for hiking and climbing.
If you want boondocking central, Missouri is your place!! There are so many places that you can camp for free, it’s unreal! And we aren’t talking about parking lots, Walmarts or rest stops. We are talking lake side views! Here are our two favorite places with GPS coordinates on the picture!
Hope you found something fun or at least interesting to put on your own bucket list. Our county is amazing so get out there and explore, and we’d love to hear what you found in Missouri that was Off the Beaten Path!
Don’t miss some of our other blog posts in this series!
Live Simply – Give More – Expect Less