Ray Behrens Recreation Area, Mark Twain Lake, Missouri

Ray Behrens campground is one of three or four recreational areas at COE’s Mark Twain Lake.  Available sites include everything from primitive camping to full hooks ups and some sites are reservable while the rest are first come-first serve. Even though it’s already October, practically all the sites that I could see were filled on the weekend, although the campground is much less crowded during the week this time of year. It never seems crowded though because the sites are spread quite wide apart with lots of full grown trees separating. There is also Mark Twain State Park Campground about 12 miles down the road. 

Mark Twain Lake.

All the campsites are paved although the drives are rather narrow. I used about 3” of blocking on the back wheels and am almost level. As I walked around, it appeared that at least 40% of the sites were very level but some did have quite a slope. Each site also features a picnic table and fire ring. When you drive in, make sure you follow the map that you are given closely. I missed my turn and ended up having to unhitch my tow vehicle because I couldn’t turn around. There are turn arounds at the end of almost every road but better to go slow and get it right the first time. The campground has a lot of side roads with circles of campers throughout and the side roads aren’t labeled so look for roads that look like driveways with open gates.

The side road where my spot was.
#55, next to the hiking trail.

We had a nice hiking trail between my site and the one next and it was convenient for walking the dogs. There is also a very long hiking trail called Lick Creek Trail just across Missouri J after you leave the campground area. On the same drive as the campground is the marina where you can rent boats or shop at the small gift shop or diner style restaurant. There are limited selections during the off season but everything is still open with shorter hours.

Lick Creek Trailhead. The red “short loop” is about 1.7 to 2 miles long.

A few miles down the road is the Boudreaux Memorial Visitor’s Center which is quite large and features a lot of displays and interactive exhibits. I was able to pick up a free CD of COE (corps of engineers) parks by state which will come in real handy. There is a paved nature trail of .25 miles in length through the trees and several scenic view observation decks along the paved walkway with views of the lake and the dam.

Visitor’s Center opens at 10:00 a.m.
Educational diorama.
Scenic view with dam.

I had to leave a day early due to needing a repair on my MH but really enjoyed our 7 nights while we were there. Maximum reservations is for 14 days at each spot and I think there is a limit on the whole area as well. We discovered one “hidden” hiking trail that was really nice and I had planned to go back but the weather didn’t cooperate. Just past the gate to the Cedar Ridge camping area, which was closed while I was there, and to the left is a small gravel parking area and a trailhead. This trail is 2.5 miles and is spacious and cleared but still through the trees. It appears it might have been a logging road at one time. We hiked just a short ways in and had planned to go back for a longer hike but didn’t make it.

Mark Twain Lake is very popular for both boaters and hunters with many private RV parks in the area, as well as the state park and the COE recreation areas.

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