Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

At Missouri's State Parks,you Can Rough It - or Not

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

At Missouri's State Parks,you Can Rough It - or Not

Article excerpt

By The Associated Press

SULLIVAN, Mo. - If you occasionally entertain the notion of a weekend getaway in the woods but can't relinquish your grip on the hair dryer or remote control, there is a compromise.

Eleven state parks in Missouri offer cabins or motels, most complete with air conditioning, kitchens, bathrooms - even televisions. They are the perfect antidote for people who would enjoy camping if they could avoid lugging all the necessary equipment. Or for those nature lovers whose finicky relatives can't abide a night in the wilderness. Some facilities will even let Rover or Felix tag along. But don't be deluded into thinking you'll be spending a night at the Ritz. "You have a lot of people expecting a resort. But it's not," said John M ason, a college student who works at Meramec State Park during the summer. "It's a state park. It's actually pretty rustic." The Department of Natural Resources estimates that 37,000 motel rooms and cabins were rented last year at state parks. The lodging at all but Washington and Lake Wappapello state parks are run by concessionaires. Meramec has 21 cabins ranging from a one-bedroom for two for $60 a night to a $150-a-night duplex that sleeps 10. The 6,785-acre park, situated just a few miles south of Interstate 44 near Sullivan, also has a 22-unit motel, with rooms starting at $50. Steve Diebler, 47, of Kansas City, said he and his wife, Diane, enjoyed being able to take spontaneous camping trips without the hassle of dragging along equipment. They recently spent two days at Sam A. Baker State Park at Piedmont and two days at Meramec. "It was a spur-of-the-moment vacation," he said as he packed up his truck in front of cabin No. 7 at Meramec. "We didn't have time to get anything prepared. We just grabbed the dogs and jumped in the truck." But Diebler did learn a valuable lesson: Cabins fill up fast, so making reservations ahead of time is best. The couple came to Meramec because Baker had only two midweek nights available in one of its 18 rustic stone cabins built in the 1930s. Most cabins at all state parks were booked for weekends through the summer by mid-June. "We just wanted to get out of the city," Diebler said. Those who want to leave the city, but not all the conveniences, should choose carefully. There is lodging at state parks ranging from "camper cabins" with almost no amenities to cabins with central air conditioning and cable television. Most cabins lack phones, but all the parks have pay phones. The parks had to adapt to changing demands from campers, said Pete Landstad, superintendent at Roaring River State Park in Cassville, in southwestern Missourin. "People have graduated from tent camping to large motor homes that have everything from satellite dishes to microwaves and washers and dryers," he said. …

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