|Photo from Lake of the Ozarks State Park website.|
Imagine someone who loves the concept of camping— the campfire, the s’mores, the stars overhead, the beauty of the woods, the hiking opportunities, and so on— but hates the actual camping part— the lack of bed, climate control, comfort, and so on. If this person is you, then I have the perfect faux-camping experience for you: the Outpost Cabins at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
Zach and I love real camping, but for our anniversary trip, we opted for a more luxurious experience. The Outpost Cabins are located in the heart of the state park among a dense oak forest, offer a lovely view of the lake and access to a nearby trail, and are equipped with an outdoor picnic/campfire area, heat, electricity, a fan, a kitchen counter, a table and chairs, a couch/futon, two mattresses, and a buckstove with firewood. They are two stories high, made of solid wood, with high ceilings and a nice loft area, which houses the two beds. There is no built-in running water, but you have access to the shower house year-round. And best of all, this costs no more than $55 a night!
Why you should go: These cabins cost as much as a really cheap hotel, but they are infinitely better. Lake of the Ozarks is a huge state park with a lot to see, and these outpost cabins are a great cozy home base. This is a great option for a family or a group of friends, too!
How to get there: You have to wind through a lot of back-roads in the park, so be sure to show up during daylight hours. You’ll receive driving directions when you make a reservation, and you can check out the park map here (PDF reader needed). The Outpost Cabins are listed as "Camper Cabins."
What to bring: Food in a cooler and rigid containers (we were ransacked by a mouse last year), matches and firestarter (unless you’re staying more than three days, you’ll have plenty of firewood), bedding (including sheets), flashlight, lantern (not necessary but nice to have), and anything else you need for camping.
What else you need to know: In some of the cabins, you’re allowed to bring along your dog— details on the website here. The check-in process is a bit confusing: they claim you need to call a number to get the combination for your lockbox that holds the cabin key, but after some frustrating calls, Zach and I finally discovered that the combination for the lock was sitting in a plastic sleeve on the lintel of our cabin door. Now that’s security!
Overall, these cabins are a great place to escape into the woods for a while, as Zach and I have done for the past two years. Check them out— you’ll be glad you did.