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cave in state park near st louisSt. Louis is the 2nd largest city in Missouri and a popular visitor destination. There is so much to see and explore in this fabulous city.

Many come here to see the iconic 630-ft Gateway Arch that appears to hover over the city. The Arch was built during the 1960s as a tribute to the famed 19th century explorers, Lewis and Clark, and is the tallest arch in the world.

You can take a ride up to the top of it and see over the city and Gateway Arch National Park. And then take a ride below it on a 19th century steamboat and experience a tour of the Mississippi River.

With so much to do here in St Louis it’s hard to imagine leaving the city for any reason. But what about those 11 state parks all within an hour’s drive from downtown St. Louis?

Map of State Parks Near St. Louis, MO

Here is a map of the Missouri state parks covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near St. Louis

Let’s take a look at each starting with the ones closest to the city. Then you can decide if it’s worth planning a day trip to explore the nature trails nearby or camp and still be close to all that the city has to offer.

1. Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park

Location: 800 Guy Park Dr, Wildwood, MO 63005

This state park is located just 32 miles outside of St. Louis. You’ll be awed by the massive stone gateway large bronze statue of Dr. Babler as you drive into this 2,441 acre park.

Great spot for camping (they have basic sites as well as electric), hiking, bicycling, riding horses and having a cookout.

2. Castlewood State Park

Location: 1401 Kiefer Creek Rd, Ballwin, MO 63021

Next up is Castlewood State Park, about a half hour drive from St. Louis. This beautiful park is situated on the Meramec River and is a popular place to fish, swim (Lincoln Beach) and canoe or kayak.

There are trails here for hiking and mountain biking as well as picnic sites and shelters and a playground. And lots of wildlife to see, especially birds since the World Bird Sanctuary is nearby.

During the early 1900s there was a large hotel here with a club for dancing as well as many seasonal cabins. Sadly, all that is left now is the grand staircase at the Castlewood depot that led up to it.

3. Route 66 State Park

Location: 1628, 97 N Outer Rd, Eureka, MO 63025

Another popular day trip, located about a half hour drive outside of St. Louis and also on the Meramec River.

There are many shaded picnic sites here as well as many trails for walking, bicycling and riding horses. And since some of these trails are level they are easily accessible to visitors with disabilities.

The Visitor Center is housed in the former Bridgehead Inn (a 1935 roadhouse) and showcases the history, memorabilia and photos of Route 66. Worth a stop in to see how this famed road connected small towns across the country during the 1930s to the 1960s and some of the architecture of those time periods.

4. Don Robinson State Park

Location: 9275 Byrnesville Rd, Cedar Hill, MO 63016

This smaller state park is a little further away, about 45 minutes by car. Self made businessman, Don Robinson, donated his sanctuary of woods, hills, stream and sandstone canyons complete with cliffs and caves to the state.

There are trails and shaded picnic areas here.

5. Edward ‘Ted’ & Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park

Location: 1000 Riverlands Way, West Alton, MO 63386

Located about 45 minutes from downtown St. Louis and on the Confluence Point where the great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers meet. This is also where the Lewis and Clark Expedition set off on its journey up the Missouri River.

6. Robertsville State Park

Location: 902 State Park Dr, Robertsville, MO 63072

Again, about a 45 minute drive from St. Louis. This scenic wooded area is on the Meramec River and Calvey Creek and has a boat launch, hiking trails, playground and a campground.

During the 1800s this land was a working farm owned by Edward James Roberts. The town and park are named for him.

7. St Francois State Park

Location: 8920 US Highway 67 North, Bonne Terre, MO 63628

You’ll discover exactly what you’re looking for at this state park, located just under an hour from St. Louis. This area comprises 2,256 acres of forest (Pike Run Hills) and is set on the banks of Big River and Coonville Creek.

Explore the hiking trails, have a picnic in one of the 16 shaded picnic sites, swim, fish or canoe on the river. There are also 2 large covered shelters with tables, a playground and a couple of ball fields here.

The campground has basic and electric hookup sites as well as modern restrooms, hot showers and laundry facilities.

8. Meramec State Park

Location: 115 Meramec Park Drive, Sullivan, MO 63080

More than 13 miles of hiking trails, a river, wooded area and caves here as well as campgrounds, a park store with a restaurant (The Fireside Store & Grill) and a visitors center.

Bring your tent or RV or stay in one of the many cabins or motel rooms for rent here. (Dogs are allowed in some of the cabins at an extra charge.) And enjoy access to the water to swim, raft, boat or fish.

Explore the aquarium and exhibits inside of the Visitor’s Center and take a tour of Fisher Cave with its many rooms and passages and animal markings.

9. Hawn State Park

Location: 12096 Park Dr #8121, Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670

This large park is an hour away from St. Louis and is very scenic with its many hills, streams, canyons and cliffs. Many varieties of birds and other wildlife can be spotted along the trails here.

Camp in one of the basic or electric sites available or come for a hike and a picnic. There’s a 10-mile trail here that is considered to be the best in the state.

10. Washington State Park

Location: 13041 MO-104, De Soto, MO 63020

This is another great park to camp at and it’s located only an hour from St. Louis and on Big River. Swim, fish and check out the petroglyphs (rock carvings from the Mississippians) that are scattered on the trails and throughout the park.

The campground has basic and electric sites plus modern fully equipped cabins and outside grills, firepits and picnic tables. The park store is located at Thunderbird Lodge and there is also a swimming pool, playground and amphitheater.

11. St. Joe State Park

Location: 2800 Pimville Rd, Park Hills, MO 63601

This large park, also an hour outside of St. Louis, has 4 lakes, 2 beaches, hiking, bicycling trails and equestrian trails as well as a separate area for off road vehicles.

There are two campgrounds here, one for campers with horses and one for off road vehicle owners. When making reservations be sure to specify which campground you are interested in.

Also located at this park:

  • A shooting range
  • The Finish Line (a concession stand with burgers, sandwiches, drinks and ice cream)
  • A radio controlled flying field (large area with a grassy runway for model airplane enthusiasts)
  • Missouri Mines State Historic Site (historic mill buildings, a mining museum with geological specimens and antique equipment)

More Sights Near St. Louis

St Louis is full of history and entertainment with live theater performances, casinos, a Six Flags amusement park, museums, science center, aquarium, a zoo and many more attractions.

The old train station now houses the St Louis Aquarium plus a 200-ft ferris wheel, a carousel, mini golf, train park and the St Louis Union Station Hotel.

And you’ll find the St Louis Zoo, Art Museum and the Missouri Botanical Gardens in nearby Forest Park, a city park that was built for the 1904 World’s Fair. The World’s Fair Pavilion, the Jewel Box Greenhouse, golf course and trails are also located here making Forest Park one of the largest urban parks in the US.

Whether you’re planning a visit to St Louis or already a resident there you’ll find something new and interesting at one of these many state parks.