While school has begun for most Phelps County students, the long, hot days of summer still remain, and with them, options to take advantage of Missouri’s dozens of state parks.

From the prairie lands of southwestern Missouri to secluded lakes nested amongst thickets of oaks in the northeast corner of the state, parks still provide unadulterated memories for the entire family.

But gone are the days of stifling heat in a cramped tent. No longer do siblings have to fight over coveted floorspace devoid of sticks and rocks that make already challenging sleep downright uncomfortable. With the popularity of parks surging, so have the options for lodging. So pack the cooler, unplug the devices, and plan a weekend getaway to one of these unique overnight experiences at a Missouri State Park.

Outpost cabins

Let’s start at Lake of the Ozarks State Park – one of the crown jewels of the Missouri State Parks system. Not only does this state park in Kaiser boast some fantastic hiking and calm coastline, this park features unique lodging options.

For those wanting to experience nature in its fullest, but prefer to escape miserable heat if given the option, the outpost cabins may be just for you. These cabins boast electricity, a wood-burning stove, and three-quarter size beds, accommodating up to six people. The cabins, nestled peacefully in the area’s familiar oak-hickory forest, also have outdoor picnic tables and is surrounded by convenient hiking trails. Beware, though! These lodging options don’t have running water, so while you can take a break from nature if you want to, when ‘nature’ calls, be prepared.

Yurts

No, you won’t be saddling up on horseback and galloping across the plains like Genghis Khan if you sleep in yurts, available in a handful of parks. These circle-shaped structures, with a wooden frame surrounded by fabric, is perhaps best known as mobile housing used by nomadic Mongolians. It’s not far off from a tent, admittedly, but has a certain level of panache traditional camping doesn’t offer.

About an hour from Phelps County in Hickory County, Pomme de Terre State Park boasts several yurts, most of which are dog friendly, and have a futon, a bunk bed, electricity, and – ahh! – air conditioning. 

Like the outpost cabins at Lake of the Ozarks State Parks, there is no running water. But sacrifice that luxury to say you slept in a yurt. How many other people can say that?

Camper cabins

Want the highest amenities while still “camping”? (Yes, we hear some of you out there shouting that camping is only in a tent!) Well, camper cabins are perhaps the Missouri State Parks’ best option for those wanting a camping experience that verges on “glamping” – that’s glamorous camping for those keeping track. 

These camper cabins – offered in half a dozen State Park, including Wappapello in southeastern Missouri – include a queen-size bed, smaller beds, refrigerator, and ceiling fans and other amenities in beautifully built cabins. 

But, bring the lanterns – electricity is nigh. Overhead lights and lamps aren’t available. 

At Wappapello, these cabins are near some of the best fishing, boating, and swimming recreational opportunities in the Show-Me State. A hot day on the water deserves comfortable accommodations. These camper cabins fit the bill.

The Show-Me State park systems has plenty of other accommodations – motels, full-fledged cabins, and countless campgrounds. These unique options range in price but average around $55 per night for a family. So, before school sports and activities take up all the free time this fall, head outdoors for one last hoorah.