This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.
We visited St. Francois State Park way back in April of 2013. Meg had recently turned 3-years-old and this was among her first camping trips (though not her first, because we went to Minnesota about 7 months before this), and probably our second time using our massive “new” Coleman tent.
We took this trip with the Montgomerys, from church, and another couple they knew from work. It’s been awhile, so I’m thinking back on this particular camping trip and I remember it being quite cold! Meg, Brooke and I were there alone for Friday night and it dropped to near freezing. I remember reaching into the second room to make sure Meg was breathing and warm multiple times during the night, so we didn’t sleep all that well. The second night was markedly warmer, though the other folks who joined us for the trip complained about being cold. We’d already seen the worst of it, so Saturday night was relatively balmy for us!
With regards to the park itself, they had a healthy number of nice hiking trails that suited our abilities well. We had Meg strapped to our backs, but thankfully, the trail we went on was mostly level, so it wasn’t all that strenuous. It also went along a creek for a good portion, so that provided Meg with something interesting to look at while we were moving about the park.
The park also had a pretty good playground close to where we were camping, at least within walking distance. Most of the facilities were close to our camping site too, and everything was clean and accessible. Meg was potty trained by this point, but we were still having to work with her a bit on sitting on an actual toilet, rather than sitting in an outhouse.
We didn’t really take advantage of any nature talks, at least not that I remember. I’m sure they were offered, but we were likely busy enough trying to wrangle Meg that we didn’t pay much attention to them. Firewood was easily accessible, so we’d have to go on some field trips to either buy or find some.
Another nice thing about this park was the open areas near the camp site. With some other places we’ve stayed, the camp sites were deeper into the forest, leaving little “play areas” for young kids to run around without tripping over tree roots or rocks. The location for the camp site had a nice, open, grassy area across from the tents, so it was easy for the kids to kick a ball or run around the tents. The adults could also see the kids from a substantial distance, so they couldn’t go hiding behind a tree or anything without us noticing.
One of the other things Brooke and I remember about this park was that Meg, Latham and Ellis played in our tent for hours on Saturday afternoon. The sun was out, the weather was nice, and the tent had a door that the kids could open on their own. They’d run around it, move toys in and out of the screened-in area, and they’d be yelling and screaming with delight. Sure, it got kinda annoying for us (and dirt on our sleeping bags…), but they entertained themselves for a lot of this trip, giving us a nice reprieve from our normal weekend activities.
Overall, we have fond memories of this park. Compared with some others we’ve attended, this one seemed particularly well-suited to young kids, something we probably didn’t appreciate until we went to some other state parks that weren’t as well organized for such things.