Today’s post is a continuation of a series from my Facebook page (Casita Divas), where I explore the many wonderful places to camp and enjoy in my home State, each Monday.
Missouri’s beauty lies in all its little river towns and winding quiet places. Today’s park is in just such a little hamlet–a place that time forgot. Arrow Rock State Park is just north of highway 70 right in the middle of the State. The entire town is on the national historic register. The park/camping is attached to the town and an easy walk downhill, into history. It is small with both electric and non electric sites. During festival, they often open up the field on the playground loop for lawn camping. The shower house is small but very nicely done (in keeping with the historic nature of the place).
Today, I will tell you about Arrow Rock and points east for day trips. In a follow-up post I will continue on with interesting points just to the west.
First, before I forget, the town has beautiful, slave laid, stone gutters that are largely crossed by wooden planks. That means some cross roads are not to be done with a trailer. Don’t bring your camper down into town unless you know which roads are passable!
When to visit? We have been many times. In Summer, the town brings actors in from NYC to play in a converted church called The Lyceum. The shows are well done and very enjoyable. The Lyceum, like all of Arrow Rock, is said to be haunted. And I do love a good ghost story! Believe what you like, what I tell folks is, tell me how silly it is after you have seen your first ghost. Belief or no, an October ghost tour is a really nice way to take a night stroll, with a bunch of interesting people, to hear the history of a town; its old rumors, grudges and loves.
In the Fall, they hold a crafts fair with artisans who create in the traditional way. That is always a fun weekend. And then, there is our favorite time to go–Thanksgiving. The Historic J Huston Tavern puts out quite a nice spread with all the tasty fixings we come to expect on Thanksgiving in an all you can eat buffet (that doesn’t seem like quite the right word though because the food tables are so simply dressed, it just feels like serving yourself from your own dining room–if you happen to live in a big haunted, historic tavern.) The Thanksgiving meal is quite a value, too (call for cost and reservations before you go). The historical society gives tours by golf cart tram upon appointment and all weekend days during the season.
No matter when you go, make sure to get a reservation at Catalpa Restaurant. It’s an intimate little place with a select nightly menu made sumptuous every night. The food is amazing and the experience worth paying a little extra to enjoy.
So, take the tour, see the little one room stone jail, the gunsmith shop, the IOOF, the tavern and so much more. Walk the streets and see all the beautiful private historic homes and walk the trail down to where the river used to flow–back when the river created a town. If you camp in winter, water is available in town at the visitors center/museum.
Day trips from the town and east along I-70 should include pretty little Rocheport ( 30 minutes away). Go when you are really, really hungry because there are two terrific restaurants: Abigail’s and Le Bourgeois Winery. Abigail’s is a bohemian lunch place nestled down in the little antique shops just off the Katy Trail. It is just steps from a very interesting tunnel on the bike trail. Lewis and Clark noted this tunnel in their journals as being filled with petroglyphs. Sadly, none of those artifacts survived.
One of our favorite things to do in Rocheport is to go with Mighty-Mo.com to kayak the big Missouri River. There are many places to float in Missouri and many, many small scenic rivers but this experience takes you out on a big river with a knowledgeable guide and they provide the boats.
Further east (maybe too long for a day trip at an hour & twenty away) is Graham Cave. Its a very small picnic park with a nice long woodland trail and a very interesting cave shelter. They have fenced it off for study but I will tell you this place has amazing energy and a strong sense of the ancient native peoples who lived here. The trail is a lovely walk in the river bottoms.
Another town just east of Arrow Rock is Historic Boonville. This is another of the pretty towns along the historic Katy (bike)Trail. A worthy meal can be enjoyed at the restaurant inside the tastefully restored Hotel Frederick. They did such a lovely job with the room renovations here, ask if you can take a peek. They do accept dogs. This town, like so much of Missouri has civil war history and you can walk the battlefield. There are two interesting cemeteries in town–one a lonely civil war era, all-black, cemetery and a beautiful garden cemetery on the other side of town. One can learn so much about a town wandering in a graveyard. you see the years of wealth, the family lines, the years of sickness and a reverence for the past. This area saw the Quantrill’s Raiders pass through, bringing death and destruction during the Civil War.
There are a couple historic private homes you can tour and then there is the trip out to see the Clydesdale’s at Warm Springs Ranch. There is a casino in town but we haven’t been to it and I don’t know if they allow campers overnight.
I’ve only just touched on things to see in the middle part of the State. It’s really a collection of small histories and oddities tied into some beautiful nature and trails that makes these sites so much fun to see. Enjoy!
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