Established in 1917, the Missouri state park system incorporates 92 state parks and historic sites that total more than 150,000 acres.
Boasting hundreds of miles of trails that meander through lush woodlands, jagged cliffs, scenic meadows and flowing rivers, Missouri’s state park system is consistently ranked as one of the top four state park systems in America.
As well as its scintillating landscape, these state parks and historic sites also feature buildings, or honor events of huge cultural significance. This includes Civil War battlefields, the homes of famous Missourians and impressive structures like covered bridges and gristmills.
Every year millions of people visit Missouri’s state parks to partake in activities like hiking, swimming, biking, boating, horseback riding and camping during the summer. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are popular in the winter.
For those who live in and around the city of Joplin, these public recreation spaces provide plenty of chances to explore the great outdoors.
Next time you feel like enjoying nature, outlined below is a list of 5 state parks near Joplin which we highly recommend you visit.
Map of State Parks Near Joplin, MO
Here is a map of the state parks in Missouri covered by this post:
List of State Parks Near Joplin
The five state parks near Joplin outlined below can all be reached within a 3-hour drive from the city.
This means you can visit them all as day trip destinations. However should you want to stay for a few nights, they all have various camping facilities that you can use.
1. Harry S. Truman State Park
Location: 28761 State Park Road West, Warsaw, MO 65355
Characterized by its dramatic bluffs, crystal clear waters and the gorgeous colors that spring, summer and fall bring, the Harry S. Truman State Park is a wonderful place to visit.
Located a 2 hour and 30 minute drive north from Joplin, this 1,440-acre site is situated on a peninsula on Truman Lake.
An impoundment of the Osage River, the lake features a marina, which makes it a prime sport for fishing and boating. Swimming is also popular here too, while a number of hiking trails will take you through wooded and scenic areas, where a range of flora and fauna can be found.
With six campgrounds to choose from, there are also plenty of places to stay, including family friendly sites.
2. Bennett Spring State Park
Location: 26250 MO-64A, Lebanon, MO 65536
Just a 2 hour drive northeast of Joplin lies the Bennett Spring State Park.
Centered on the spring which averages a daily flow of 100 million gallons of water into the Niangua River, it was one of the first state parks to be included in Missouri’s system.
A favored spot for fishermen who come here for the plentiful stocks of rainbow trout, the valley that cradles Bennett Spring is also much loved by hikers, photographers and nature lovers.
Encompassing 3,216 acres, numerous trails will take you into areas that showcase some of the state’s most outstanding natural beauty.
For those wanting to stay a few nights here there are a plethora of accommodation options to choose from. These include a motel room, as well as a duplex cabin, individual cabins and a remodeled four-plex unit.
In addition, there are also five campgrounds that are dotted around the wooded hills, that offer sites which range from basic, to family and those which offer full hookup electricity, water and sewer.
For your convenience there is also a dining lodge, park store and restroom facilities.
3. Wallace State Park
Location: 10621 MO-121, Cameron, MO 64429
Reached via a 3 hour drive north from Joplin, and situated just an hour from Kansas City, Wallace State Park provides a tranquil escape from city life.
Comprising 502 acres, one of the main highlights here is the 6-acre Lake Allaman that provides lots of opportunities for swimming, canoeing, kayaking and fishing.
There are also plenty of picturesque picnic sites that are sprinkled around shaded areas of the park, as well as four scenic trails that feature benches which you can sit on to take in the wonderful views.
The park runs a family-oriented campground that includes basic and electric campsites, as well as a playground. It also has walk-in campsites for those wanting a bit more privacy.
4. Knob Noster State Park
Location: 873 SE 10 Rd, Knob Noster, MO 65336
About a 2 hour and 45 minute drive north of Joplin you’ll find Knob Noster State Park.
Named after the nearby town of the same name, which itself was so called in honor of one of two notable small hills, or ‘knobs’, that are prominent in an otherwise flat section of the state, the park covers 3,394 acres.
Featuring an alluring terrain of open oak woodland and verdant prairie which lie either side of the quaint Clearfork Creek, the park is a popular spot for fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking.
The park is also notable for an oxbow slough, which has been officially recognized as a Pin Oak Slough Natural Area.
Onsite, the campground has a number of basic and electric campsites, as well as family campsites and two organized group camps. You will also find two backpack camps on the McAdoo Trail.
5. Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site
Location: 26600 Park Road North, Lawson, MO 64062
Situated a 3 hour drive north of Joplin is the Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site.
Boasting a 40 hectare lake with a large sandy beach, this is a very popular spot for sunbathing, swimming and fishing for catfish, bass, sunfish and crappie.
The park also has a 3.8-mile asphalt walking and bicycling trail which follows the lake’s shoreline, as well as a separate 3.5-mile long equestrian trail.
For those interested in history, the Watkins Mill is a National Historic Landmark which is well worth checking out.
Offering 96 campsites, 74 of which have electric hookups, the park also has a special-use camping area, as well as a number of scenic picnic spots.