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The first time my former partner and I came to Sam Baker was during 4th of July and it was pretty busy but laid back. The accommodations were excellent such as the campground shop and cafe. We stayed in our very large tent, folks were really friendly even though it was mid COVID-19. They regularly cleaned and sanitized all the bathrooms regularly on schedule. We really enjoyed our first stay of roughly a couple nights so much we scheduled to return later that fall. We found out they also had boat/canoe access along the lake and we finally got around to that before it got too cold. Actually enjoyed some more of the snack/meals at the cafe and of course bought whatever we felt necessary at their shop. We really appreciated all the great vibes and welcoming folks. Was sure a good time hope to come back a third and more often then not enjoy our stay!
This is still the favorite spot, so far, to take my kiddos to. Gorgeous views, a clear and well cared for river. Scenic views from the walkway and stairs built beside it, with open areas to access the river and the beautiful huge rocks scattered among it. A great jumping and swimming spot, too. Unmatchable!
Hawn State Park is a park like no other. Nowhere else in the state of Missouri have I been able to camp and feel like I'm in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. The car camping area is nestled in the middle of a pine filled valley. There's nothing more refreshing than sitting in the evening and hearing the wind whistle through the pines. The trails are amazing with big boulders and beautiful creeks. If you're car camping take the extra walk to the walk-in camping sites. It's like a micro backpacking trip. And if you like backpacking, Hawn state park is the place to do it!
This is a new(ish) and well maintained campground. It is located on the Black River, and the water flowing through the shut-ins is crystal clear and cool. We weren’t there during the summer months, but I am sure this park is busy when the weather is good for swimming. We stayed at the campground at the end of September when the leaves were just starting to change colors and it was beautiful.
All the sites have concrete pads and there is plenty of space between sites with lots of trees. There is also a walking path that cuts through the middle of both loop 2 and 3. This is great if you are planning trips with friends and family but can’t get sites directly next to each other. The park has a great general store which is centrally located and there is a nice big laundry facility attached if you need it. We didn’t use the bathroom/shower facilities while we were there due to covid, so I unfortunately don’t have information about those for you.
Be aware the shut-ins are separate from the campgrounds. This can be either a positive detail or a negative depending on how you look at it. It’s only bad if you are concerned about the fact that you have to drive or walk to go play in the water. However, I think the good outweighs the bad in this case.
Although we weren’t there during the warmer/swimming months, I can imagine the park gets pretty busy during the weekends and hot days. So the positive is, if you are camping, that the campground area won’t be busy with day-use visitors because the park is split up. Which means, you can still enjoy the peace and quiet if you aren’t playing at the actual shut-ins. That is definitely a plus in my book.
The only issue we had was there was nobody at the gate to check us in. We had to check in by text or we could scan a QR code and there were no campsite maps available either. So hopefully you have better phone service then we had, and make sure to download a site map so you can find your campsite more easily.
Overall, the park is great. The shut-ins are beautiful and if you are into exploring the area around Johnson’s Shut-ins there are multiple state parks nearby where you can drive to and do some more exploring.
We stayed here on a Tuesday evening in early November. It was election night so we were happy to not have a cell signal for the night. 😊 The sites are all walk in but it’s a short walk from your car to the site. Very rocky ground so be careful where you put your tent. Pit toilets are located at the entrance to the campground. We didn’t see where the water was but it was supposed to be off for the season anyway so we were prepared. We did the hike to the highest point in Missouri and then to a small waterfall. We were racing the sunset so we didn’t get to spend as much time as we would have liked. There were only two other campers and all was quiet.
Very nice campground with nice showers and clean bathrooms. Camp sites were somewhat close together so hope you like neighbors. We didn’t check the nearby trails to the shut-ins before coming. The shut-ins trail DOES NOT allow dogs so that’s a bummer. Found some other local hiking trails so overall it wasn’t too bad.
We loved this clean and beautiful campground! We stayed in the fall and the colors were amazing. Our kids loved climbing all over the shut-ins. We have already planned to return in the summer to swim! Well maintained facilities and the store had everything you could need. Nice paved sites that have picnic tables & fire pits.