Pushing south another couple of hundred miles along our evolving route back to Florida, we entered Missouri, another state we had not yet visited. Most of the drive was off interstate passing through beautiful forests and farmland. The last hour or so added stress as we encountered a series of increasingly small back roads with no shoulders to speak of, culminating in a steep downhill run into our destination for the next couple of nights.
We loved the country park in Iowa, were not particularly keen on the state park in Kansas, but our latest stop in Missouri put us back on track with a great place in the Ozarks. Roaring River State Park has around 180 sites in the three separate camping areas, though two of them are closed during the off season, which had started a few days before our arrival. This meant we payed a lower rate ($19/night), but had less of a selection, with no actual river front spots available.
Our disappointment at the lack of a river front option evaporated once we got a view of the remaining available campground: with the exception of the camp host and a motorhome in one of the double priced “family” spots, both near the front, the 70 site campground was empty. We drove the length of the place before selecting one of the easy pull through spots near the back.
As you can see in the pictures, the campground is in a heavily shallow gorge situated beside a dry river bed. The only downside to the place is that it is mostly electrical only sites; only a handful of the expensive family spots have water or sewage, and that depending on the season and weather.
They also have free wifi, which actually worked, though I can’t say how well it would if the camp had more than just us in it. We had some difficulty with the signal strength, particularly as it was attenuated coming through our big metal Faraday cage, but we also discovered that we happened to park near the weakest (RRSPCG1P3) of the four available public wifi antennas. If we had moved down near any of the others I think we would have had much better luck even inside the bus. As it was, as long as we sat outside we had a reasonable connection.
The Roaring River itself is not all that roaring, but it is beautiful and clear with picturesque bridges and observation points. It is mostly spring fed, and has a fish hatchery near the source. It is definitely worth the hike or drive up to the hatchery to see the working breeding and grow out ponds, as well as the striking spring and tiny waterfall dropping onto it.
Our second and last night we built a fire in the provided metal ring as it was just nippy enough to truly enjoy. We thought of staying another day, but the next destination is a small park with limited sites and we did not want to arrive on a weekend and risk it being full.
As I mentioned earlier, of mild concern was the last 3/4 of a mile leading into the park on 112. I don’t think we had even seen one of the “steep grade ahead” warning signs since leaving Colorado, but the one posted here was no joke, at least a 9% grade overall with some sections noticeably worse. Since it was less than a mile I was not worried about going down; our brakes are so much more effective since getting adjusted back in Idaho. Rather, I was worried about departing and having a repeat of the infamous Portland incident where we encountered an uphill grade that The Big Kahuna simply could not manage, forcing us to back down a narrow and twisty road for nearly half a mile before being able to turn around.
Our post incident research back then suggested that we had been stopped by a 17% grade, and I really didn’t think this one was that steep, possibly 12% in places, but it did not offer much of a “run-a-go” leading into it or at any point up the curvy climb. As it turned out we struggled but made it, with the bus chugging along at 10 mph most of the way despite having the throttle on the floor.
Finally, anyone know what kind of birds these are? We came across flocks numbering in the thousands in the fields along our route.