Saturday is special at Mark Twain National Forest as the campgrounds will offer free camping and picnicking. It’s part of National Public Lands Day, which encourages people to enjoy the outdoors and honors volunteers who have helped maintain Missouri’s 1.5 million acre National Forest.
“We’re having free camping and free day use – all the campgrounds and recreation areas that are operated by the National Forest,” said Mark Twain National Forest Recreation Manager Nancy Feakes in an interview with the Missourinet.
It’s an idea that has been around for a few years, with the weather playing an important role in annual participation.
“We’ve had this for at least the last five years,” said Feakes. “Our attendance seems to be related more to the weather than whether or not things are free. If we have a beautiful weekend to celebrate this then we’ll have lots of people that will come out to enjoy the free camping and the free day use. But if it’s a rainy day we get a lot less attendance – even if it is free.”
Taking advantage of the free camping will mean “roughing it” for some folks as most sites have no electrical hookups.
“The basic campground fee for most of them for basic sites without electrical hookups run $8 to $10 a night, normally,” said Feakes. “On electrical sites you may be saving as much as $13 to $15.”
Some of the campsites at Mark Twain National Forest will be closing in a few weeks, while others remain open throughout the year.