Find Your Campground
Lake of the Ozarks camping gets you in touch with nature
By Nancy Milton
People who love to camp come with all kinds of personal preferences packed into their trailers. From those who like to rough it with nothing more than a backpack and tent to families that enjoy a homey cabin-style experience, campers defy a single definition.
Lake of the Ozarks camping is able to fit every style for those who love to experience the great outdoors on their own terms.
The sheer beauty of this mid-Missouri region surrounding the Lake of the Ozarks—named the 2016 Best Recreational Lake by USA Today’s 10Best poll—is enough to make you gather a sleeping bag or rev up an RV and head for the many campgrounds in the lake region. But where should you go? Here are a few suggestions that offer something different for the camper in you:
Have you ever slept in a tree house? The Cross Creek RV Park & Campground can make that Swiss Family Robinson dream come true. The five tree house cabins are literally perched in the branches of the campground’s woods and accessed by flights of stairs. They’re joined by five ground cabins for those who don’t fancy a climb. Many of the plentiful tent and RV sites are near the campground’s eight-acre fishing lake. Two tent sites are located in “Survivor” spots, one across a remote creek and one over a bridge to a small island in the fishing lake. Noted for its friendly staff and many activities, the wooded 70-acre paradise is just 3.5 miles from Bagnell Dam, but far away from traffic and noise. There’s no shortage of activities on site including karaoke, concerts, campfires and games (plus haunted weekends to end the season in October). Kids will love the mini golf course, paddleboats, playground and the beautiful turquoise swimming pool.
The Red Oak Resort and RV Park in Camdenton hosts many of the region's big fishing tournaments from its position on the shore of the Osage arm of the Lake. If you’re arriving by boat, look for the tidy resort at the 32-mile marker. RVers will have plenty of site choices with full hookups in this year-round resort. No camper? No problem. This resort offers condos, a motel, cabins and even rental houses with up to five bedrooms. Everyone loves the heated fishing dock during cooler weather and the lovely pool during the summer. In addition to boat slips, Red Oak has dry storage and boat ramps. Family reunions or other groups can hold their gatherings in the resort’s banquet hall, which seats up to 150, or the pavilion, which seats 50.
There’s a party waiting at the 10-mile marker on the main channel of the Lake of the Ozarks. That’s where you’ll find the Deer Valley RV Park and Campground alongside Frankie and Louie’s Beachfront Bar & Grill, known for live music and special events. A sand beach greets visitors arriving by boat to padded and covered docks. The tree-filled campground is in the Sunrise Beach area of the region on the massive lake’s west side. Owners like to say they “put the beach in Sunrise Beach” by bringing in more than 100 tons of sand to create a swimming and sunbathing area in a calm and shallow no-wake zone, protected from boat traffic. The resort is open seasonally, from April through November, and offers 300 campsites, full hookups for RVs, cabin rentals for groups of up to five or six and a new bunkhouse that sleeps up to eight people. Many campers rent their sites on a yearly basis. Guests may also rent boats to fully enjoy their time on the lake.
Tranquil and peaceful—the aptly named Peaceful Valley Resort and RV Park is located in Sunrise Beach directly on the Lake of the Ozarks at the 26-mile marker. The all-year resort includes furnished cabins with well-stocked kitchens as well as plenty of RV sites with water, sewer and electric hookups. All the reasons visitors come to the lake are represented here—boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and in-season hunting opportunities. If you have a larger group, consider renting the Big House with its 10-person capacity. Seasonal lakefront RV sites are also available. Extra bonus: campers who stay for longer periods often earn food and beverage certificates for Papa Chubby’s Food & Booze, the on-site restaurant.
Close to many of the lake’s activities, the family-owned Osage Beach RV Park is an award-winning member of the Good Sam RV park system. The tree-lined camping sites are close enough to walk to many of the area’s shops, restaurants and activities. The resort’s pool is a big hit with campers. Full water, electric and sewer service are joined by cable TV and included in the daily, weekly or longer rates. In addition to the RV sites, five air-conditioned log cabins are available for rent. Picnic tables, patios and fire rings are found throughout the resort and a meeting space, open-air pavilion and barbecue patio are convenient spaces for groups or camping clubs. Everyone will enjoy the playground and outdoor games including horseshoes and shuffleboard.
A great location for fishing and tent camping, the Iguana Lake Ozark Campground and RV Park is right at the edge of Bagnell Dam, which was built in 1931 to create America’s top recreational lake. RVers will find electrical hookups, sewer and water included in rates. The gorgeous Osage River, which was dammed to form the lake, is nearby with great fishing opportunities, so anglers will want to take advantage of the impressive variety of bait available at the campground’s shop. The site is within an easy walk of shopping and attractions as well as the nightlife and activities on the Bagnell Dam Strip.
Camping opportunities abound in the beautiful, scenic Lake of the Ozarks. No matter how you want to spend your time while camping, there are plenty of locations where you can enjoy the outdoors and have fun in the sun.
Explore the outdoors at Lake of the Ozarks