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Camping at Ozark National Scenic Riverways

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Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) is a national park in the Ozarks of southern Missouri in the United States. It is noted for its scenic beauty, outdoor activities, and preservation of the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers. When planning a camping trip to the ONSR, there are several important pieces of information you should know to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Camping Options

Developed Campgrounds: There are several developed campgrounds within the park that offer amenities like restrooms, picnic tables, and fire grates. Some of these campgrounds include Alley Spring, Big Spring, Round Spring, and Pulltite.

Backcountry Camping: For a more primitive experience, backcountry camping is available. It is necessary to follow Leave No Trace principles and to avoid camping in restricted areas.

River Camping: If you're canoeing or boating, numerous gravel bars along the rivers make for perfect campsites. Be sure to camp above the high water mark as river levels can change rapidly.

Horse Camping: Certain campgrounds or areas within the park are designated for horse camping and include facilities to accommodate equestrian needs.

Reservations and Fees

Campground Reservations: Some campgrounds require reservations, which can be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service. During peak seasons, it is advisable to book well in advance.

Fee Information: There are fees for camping in developed campgrounds, and these can vary by location and season. Ensure you are aware of the current rates and come prepared to pay.


Firewood Policy: To prevent the spread of invasive species, the park has restrictions on bringing in firewood from outside areas. It is best to buy firewood locally or gather it, where permitted, within the park boundaries.

Wildlife Safety: Ozark National Scenic Riverways is home to diverse wildlife. Store food properly to avoid attracting animals to your campsite and observe animals from a safe distance.

Alcohol Policy: Alcohol is prohibited at all riverways within the park.

Noise and Lights: To maintain the park's natural atmosphere, keep noise levels down and use lights sparingly so as not to disturb wildlife or other visitors.

Safety Precautions

Water Safety: The rivers can have strong currents and hidden hazards. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and supervise children closely.

Weather Preparedness: Weather in the Ozarks can be unpredictable. Prepare for rapid changes by bringing appropriate gear for rain, cold, and heat.

Emergency Situations: Cell phone coverage is unreliable in many areas of the park. Know the locations of the nearest ranger stations and plan out emergency communication strategies.

Leave No Trace

Ozark National Scenic Riverways is a protected area and visitors are asked to follow Leave No Trace principles to reduce their impact on the environment. This includes properly disposing of waste, respecting wildlife and other visitors, and leaving what you find.

Seasonal Considerations

Summer: Expect large crowds, and be prepared for hot, humid weather and a higher chance of encountering ticks and mosquitoes.

Winter: Winter offers a quieter experience but come prepared for potentially cold temperatures and limited services as some facilities may be closed.


Camping at Ozark National Scenic Riverways offers a variety of experiences, from the comfort of developed campgrounds to the adventure of backcountry exploration. By making reservations ahead of time, respecting the park's rules and regulations, and being prepared for the natural elements, you can ensure that your camping trip is both enjoyable and safe.

Map of Campgrounds in Ozark National Scenic Riverways
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