Mark Twain Lake issues campground changes and opening information

By Mike Thomas
Courier-Post Sports Editor
mthomas@courierpost.com
Posted: May. 12, 2020 3:44 pm Updated: May. 12, 2020 3:47 pm

MONROE CITY, Mo. | The U.S. Corps of Engineers at Mark Twain Lake has implemented some changes to camping policy to protect the health and safety of the public and USACE employees as they open their facilities.

The biggest change in policy for all campground sites is that campers will have to reserve campsites ahead of time. There will no longer be any first-come, first-serve sites.

All of the campsites at Mark Twain Lake are fully reserved for Memorial Day weekend.

“Everybody has been itching to get out because they kind of been cooped up,” said U.S. Corps of Engineers natural resource specialist Mary Ann Heitmeyer. “So, I think the campgrounds and the boat ramps will be really busy on Memorial Day weekend, weather permitting.”

The Frank Russell, Indian Creek and Ray Behrens campgrounds will open on Friday, May 22 at 8 a.m. for camping. Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov, beginning on Friday, May 15 at 9 a.m. Reservations cannot be made at the lake.

Ray Behrens has 163 campsites available, Indian Creek has 177 campsites available and Frank Russell has 63 campsites available.

“Everybody has their favorite one,” Heitmeyer said. “A lot of them go to Ray Behrens, then a lot of people really like Indian Creek. Frank Russell is a little slower, so it doesn't get quite as packed with people unless it's a holiday weekend.”

For weekend camping stays from Friday through Sunday, reservations must be made two days in advance. Reservations can be made the same day for weekday camping stays from Monday through Thursday.

Hetimeyer said as summer approaches, weekday camping picks up.

“Usually in the summer, things get kind of spread out across the week,” Heitmeyer said. “Just because people are normally out of school and taking family vacations.”

Little Bluestem and Cedar Ridge in Ray Behrens, and Fox Loop and Eagle Point in Indian Creek were already reservable sites only.

Visitor passes will not be issued during Memorial Day weekend to maximize social distancing. Campers are asked to plan accordingly and to limit campsites to a maximum of eight people for all three campsites.

The David C. Berti Shooting Range and the Frank Russell Archery Park will open on Friday, May 22.

All playgrounds, picnic shelters, fish cleaning stations, the Visitor Center, beaches, picnic facilities, group campgrounds and primitive camping sites will remain closed due to social distancing protocols.

“At this time, we do not have an expected opening date for those type of facilities,” Heitmeyer said. “We'll just have to work through this as we go along.” 

The U.S. Corps of Engineers at Mark Twain Lake will release additional information on modifications, closures, openings and other restrictions related to their facilities as these situations are reevaluated later in the summer.

For more information, call the Mark Twain Lake Project Office at 573-735-4097, check out the Mark Twain Lake Facebook page or email MarkTwainInfo@usace.army.mil.

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