Mark Twain State Park

March 16, 2014

Mark Twain State Park is a 2,775 acre state park located in the Salt River Hills of Monroe County, just over two hours northwest of St. Louis. It was established in 1924 through the efforts of the Mark Twain Memorial Park Association in honor of the famed native Missourian author. The association raised over $10,000 to purchase 100 acres of land overlooking the Salt River, and over time they have accumulated much more land. The park includes the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site, which includes the two bedroom cabin he was born in along with multiple first edition copies of his works and a handwritten manuscript of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

The park offers numerous recreational activities, from hiking along beautiful lakeside trails to fishing, swimming and boating in Mark Twain Lake. There is a range of amenities and facilities, including basic and electric campgrounds along with camper cabins. The topography of the area is very similar to the Ozark region in the south of the state, ranging from prairie-like terrain to forest terrain. The park is home to white-tailed deer, turkey, raccoons, squirrels, osprey, northern harriers, numerous waterfowl and even bald eagles in the winter months!



We came to Mark Twain State Park on the afternoon of Saturday the 15th , our last full day of the spring break trip, after a long car ride from Dunn Ranch. We drove through the campgrounds with our windows down trying to decide which site to use. It was a gorgeous afternoon, but of course it wouldn’t be Missouri without some drastic weather changes; the night was supposed to bring a cold front and “ice pellets” (whatever that meant!). We’ve camped while it’s cold out before; it’s even snowed on us. But after four days of camping, we were a bit tired and not looking forward to a freezing night bundled up in our sleeping bags on the cold forest ground… So when we found a set of cabins at one end of the campgrounds, we knew that’s where we wanted to be staying! The campground managers informed us they were only $60 a night, so we decided to splurge a little!

We spent the afternoon lounging outside, enjoying the beautiful weather we knew would be gone by the night. Melanie and Sam studied for their upcoming chem exams while Evan, Neil and Jennifer headed down to the lake for some fishing. Evan came back from his fishing expedition without any fish but with some other “treasures” - he found multiple glass bottles for me to add to my glass collection along with a toy tractor! I spent the afternoon reading and napping in my hammock, then started helping Stan build a (huge!!!) fire and prepare our dinner feast! We treated ourselves well that night; the spread included Irish soda bread, bacon-wrapped steaks, mock tuna, potatoes and – for dessert – a cobbler-like concoction called “Dump Cake”! All in all, it was a great way to end the trip :)


- Entry by Annie Gocke

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