Trail of Tears – Mississippi River Campground

Sign which says 
Trail of Tears State Park
Mississippi River Campground

Dan and I spent five nights at a nearby state park to finish out our 2021 camping season. We stayed with Ole Man River, you know the one who just keeps rollin’ along. For those of you not familiar with that song in the deep baritone voice, that means we camped at the Mississippi River Campground in Missouri’s Trail of Tears State Park. The campground, appropriately named, sits on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi.

A railroad track also lines the campground and the park’s edge. Reviews of the campground often mention the trains which travel by several times a day – and throughout the night, too. Many reviewers are not happy about the noise. There is even a sign on a bulletin board which notes “No Refunds for Train Traffic.”

Train

The trains didn’t bother us. Oh, we heard them at night, but if we did wake up, we quickly fell back asleep. I grew up not far from the Mississippi. My high school overlooked the river. I’ve walked hundreds of miles at Jefferson Barracks, a park in south St. Louis County which overlooks, you guessed it, the Mississippi. Even now, a ten minute drive from our St. Charles home finds us at the river and a ferry crossing. I’ve heard barge traffic and train horns my whole life. I felt right at home.

However, if such noise bothers you – or your dog(s) – you may want to consider elsewhere. Our campground host mentioned that many times when people leave early, it’s because the loud train horn upsets their dog. The train tracks are very close. In fact, one of our campground neighbors left the morning after their first night. They were supposed to stay two more nights, according to their camping tag. We can only guess it was because of the train. It certainly couldn’t have been us, right? Dan and I are boring. We’re the perfect camping neighbors.

In any case, this campground has just seventeen sites with only seven of them being full hook up. So, if people want to pass on this campground, that’s fine by me. I’ll be happy to enjoy this treasure, trains and all.

We had fantastic weather for our last trip of the year. It was fall camping at its best. So, if you go, try to request the same weather. You won’t be disappointed.

The weather was especially perfect for ebike riding. While there aren’t biking trails in the park, the park is huge, and we took advantage of the park’s roads. Normally, we don’t like riding where there are cars, but the park roads had minimal traffic. For one thing, we were there during the week; we arrived on Sunday and left Friday. In addition, the basic campground loop, which hosts about 50 sites, was closed for some maintenance repairs.

Two ebikes on overlook
Mississippi River Overlook
Betty and Dan standing on overlook with Mississippi in the background

Several of the days, we rode about 16 miles, covering every road in the park. We even rode on “Hill Road” which, like the campground, is very appropriately named. Good thing we had ebikes. Some of the hills are pretty steep. At some point, I lost my reading glasses which I had atop my head. They must have flown off when I was flying downhill at speeds which surprised even me. The glasses are red, just in case you happen to see them.

Inside of Trail of Tears Visitor Center
Visitor Center

This park has lots to offer. Besides the exhibits and movie related to the Trail of Tears story, the Visitor Center contains numerous nature exhibits. As usual, we found the park staff to be very friendly and enthusiastic about their park and nature, in general. One park ranger spoke about how she loved snakes. We felt a little better about them, too, after she told us why. Snakes eat mice, and one little mouse can have up to a hundred ticks on it.

The outside areas of the park offer even more. There is a lake in the park which features a swimming beach. There are several hiking trails of varying lengths. Throughout the park are beautiful picnic areas, picnic shelters and a number of playgrounds. Our campground had a volleyball net set up and three sets of the “Washers” game, including the washers ready for play. If you can’t find something to do and enjoy, you’re just not trying.

Picnic table on deck overlooking lake
Picnic shelter
View of beach and lake

The park’s history has a connection to those famous explorers, Lewis and Clark. The park also has a connection to another expedition, that of Louis Joliet and Father Jaques Marquette. The same Marquette as the Illinois State Park – Pere Marquette – which is just a short drive and a ferry ride away from our home in St. Charles.

Another short drive is the one from the Trail of Tears State Park to the town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It’s less than eleven miles. So, in the spirit of Lewis and Clark as well as Father Marquette and Joliet, Dan and I spent a day exploring the town. We enjoyed our expedition quite a bit; and my next post will contain all the exciting details. For now, suffice it to say, after a fun day in town, we happily came back to site #7, our home for just a little bit longer.

View of campsite with Mississippi in the background

31 comments

  1. We loved that state park! We were in site 10 for two nights and the train noise didn’t bother us, either. We didn’t get to explore the park much because we spent one whole day visiting with a friend of mine from elementary school who drove down from St. Louis to meet us. Part of that day was in Port Girardeau, which we also enjoyed. I posted about it https://wanderingdawgs.com/2014/10/12/good-friends-full-moon-and-the-mississippi-river/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Visiting a friend is a real treasure, too! I will read your post (dated before I was blogging), but I am going to wait until after I write my next post about our day in Cape. I plan to write the post this week and publish on Saturday. It will be fun to see the commonalities and what we missed! I do look forward to reading your post. Enjoy your Monday!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just want to let you know, I went back and read your post about Cape. Very nice post. It looks like you got the same train picture. 🙂 And you ate at the same restaurant! I especially like the picture of the Monarch butterfly. How wonderful your friend from long ago came to visit!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an entertaining Monday morning read! Betty was on fire with the wit this morning. I did not find your red glasses, but I did spy a single lens whilst walking up the hill from taking the trash bin. Shall I save it for you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was very nice. The reviews often mention the trails, so hopefully people would know. However, I am sure some don’t see the reviews. Also, I had not thought about how dogs may get upset, too. We don’t know why the folks next to us left early, but they did have a dog. Hope you have a great week ahead!

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  3. Great read for this lovely fall day. We absolutely love fall camping and we’re headed to Texas Wednesday for a month of camping. When we visited Trail of Tears park we drove through the campground you stayed at. I’m pretty deaf without my hearing aids so the train noise wouldn’t affect me, but the Mr and our precious puppy would definitely not be able to handle it. Although we do have a train not too far from our back yard in Wichita. Cape Girardeau is an interesting town and the walkway along the river is awesome. We drove over there from Lake Wappapello (have you camped there?). Re: camping on the Mississippi River, are there other campgrounds you’ve camped at on the Mississippi? Also….my husband had a consulting job in St Louis for a few years and I’d visit him often. We visited St Charles and fell in love with that area. And you live there!! We may have well been face to face and not known each other. 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Funny you should mention Lake Wappapello. We have reservations at Greenville COE campground there in Spring. That will be our shakedown trip to start the new camping year. The Greenville campground sounds great based on everything I read. Did you camp there?

      This is our first time at a campground on the Mississippi, but I did pick up a fold out brochure showing the Mississippi River route with all the points of interest (parks) along the route. In the back of mind, I was thinking it would be fun sometime to follow this route up and down the river. Have you done something like that?

      We really do love living in St. Charles. There’s so much here. What were some of your favorite parts? Our paths could have easily crossed.

      I’m envious of your month in Texas. Safe travels, and I hope you have a great time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We stayed at People’s Creek COE. It was kind of a last minute type decision and that was the only vacancy on the lake. We’ve never done river camping from one stop to another but it definitely sounds fun. And we visited St Charles a couple of times, once during Christmas season. The downtown historic district was just super fun and cute. We loved all the quaint businesses and the whole Christmas vibe with the (I think they were) Dickens’ era costumed actors walking the streets with story-telling, etc. Then singing Christmas songs on the street with those actors and the large crowd of folks like us. The river is pretty there, too. We just enjoyed everything about the historic downtown. We’ll be volunteering again in Texas on the gulf coast and are eagerly looking forward to the experience! Thanks for the good wishes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I will have to check out People’s Creek. And yes, Christmas time on Main Street is magical. It is a long standing tradition. We also enjoy the ice carving contest in January, too. Whenever we go down to Main Street, I feel like I am on vacation. The Katy Trail runs right along the river there, too. Safe travels!

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  4. I have a friend who lives in Cape Girardeau. It has been many years since we last saw each other.

    The trains not bothering you must be how the fire alarm doesn’t bother me. The fire station is about a block from our house. It used to awaken me every night it went off. My husband asks sometimes, if I heard it a particular night. I didn’t. I don’t think I would like the train noise, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess it’s what we get used to! A couple of the nights, I didn’t hear the trains at all. Dan heard them though, but he said he fell right back to sleep. I’ll be writing about our day in Cape this week and plan to publish on Saturday. I liked Cape a lot. Hope you have a nice evening!

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  5. Another fun and informative read! I’m not sure if the trains would bother me. We live four blocks from the tracks. The many trains that go through here don’t bother me, but there are several buildings between there and here to buffer the sound. I’m pretty sure that tracks being right next to the campgrounds combined with the thin RV walls and the open windows I like to have at night would be a different story. The park does sound lovely though, so maybe I’d be willing to trade off a couple of nights’ sleep for the other available offerings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was cold at night, so we had our windows closed. I didn’t think about how loud it would be with the windows open. I like to sleep with the windows open, too. The day we went to Cape, I had over 10,000 steps, and I slept like a rock. It is a lovely park. When we rode bikes, I felt like we were in a forest. So much fresh air! Hope you have a good day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What I love about this is the “closing” of camping season. Melancholy and optimistic both at the same time. 🙂 We have trains that run all day/night where we live. Far enough for the walls not to shake, nor having to raise the volume on the TV; close enough to make them actually be calming to hear at night. – Marty

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    • It’s funny how some folks are charmed with the trains and others – not so much. I thoroughly enjoyed our stay there, but I did want to make sure people knew about trains. Enjoy your evening!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We have camped next to train tracks before and it seems that sometimes it’s no big deal and other times it is quite bothersome. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it depends on how tired I am or how fast the train is going or the condition of the track. Maybe even the weather conditions — who knows? There was one place where very noisy trains went by every 30 minutes or so all day long but then stopped at night. That was a blessing. If given a choice, I will avoid train tracks. However, the way we move around, many times we don’t have a choice. We take what is available. My goodness, those Lewis and Clark guys sure got around — didn’t they? Maybe when you go back you’ll find your glasses at the Lost and Found.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think there were 4 or 5 trains in a 24 hour period. It wasn’t that much. Every 30 minutes might get to me. But then again, we are often out and about. I did run to get the picture of the train. Next day, I see our camper neighbor running to get a picture of the train! That kind of tickled me. How many pictures of trains are taken at that campground? Yes, Lewis and Clark sure got around. Now, as far as my glasses go… I had a theory they probably flew off on a steep downhill. So, since I go much slower on the way back up the hill, I would look for them on any uphills on the way back. Sounds like a good theory to me. But no luck. Fortunately, I had a back up pair in the camper. Safe travels, and Hope you are enjoying fall!

      Liked by 2 people

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