If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! 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 hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and taking the road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, with GPS coordinates.
Missouri is home to the world’s largest fork, the world’s largest goose, and apparently, there is a fish on a bike in Missouri. Can only get better from here, right?
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 to go on a weekday, not in the summer, and not around any holiday.
Waterfalls! Waterfalls! and more 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.
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 Riverways.
The town of Hannibal has several things to see! We really enjoyed this little place. Great scenery, history, and just plain fun to walk around!
The Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse
Did you know? So … 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 whitewashed 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 ecosystem, 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 are European castle ruins in an American state park that 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 known as one of the most unusual diving areas in the world. Due to the toxic lead particles in the water, nothing can grow to render 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 archway, limestone boulders, and carved-out shelves that 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, Wal-Mart, or rest stops. We are talking about lakeside 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!
We think you’d love some of our other blogs!
- Our Top 7 Free Camping Spots and Boondocking Tips
- Off the Beaten Path in California. Our Top Hidden Gems You Just Have to See!
- RV Camping in Washington
- Off the Beaten Path in Virginia. The Most Unique Hidden Gems in Virginia.
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8 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path in Missouri ~ Our Unique Finds!”
I have read several of your articles. We are preparing to go full time RVing in May . Thank you for sharing these adventures I am excited to see for myself. Would like to join your group we are newbies and looking for help and encouragement.
Hi Patrick and Sharlene! Welcome! So glad you found our information helpful. We remember those last few months before we launched and how exciting and hectic it became. Maybe we can meet up sometime next year. Safe travels, and come on over to our group page on Facebook. It’s not a real active place, but I do put up a ton of information. 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/OptingOutofNormal Would love to see you over there!
Crooked Creek Falls is off the beaten path of Arkansas, not Missouri. See your other article for details:
Thank you for the correction. The article you referenced isn’t ours, but I do appreciate it. Thank you again!
I noticed you use blow up kayaks. What brand do you use and would you recommend them? Thanks!
Hi! They are 385FT’s by Sea Eagle. We love them and had them for about 6 years now, and use them quite often. They also fold up so small and fit behind our theater seats in our RV. I highly recommend them!