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Review:  Red Bluff Campground

Review: Red Bluff Campground

avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 04/08/2018
Posted On 11/08/2018 17:35:57

Camping | Missouri | Davisville | Camping in Missouri | RVing in Mark Twain National Forest | Review of Red Bluff Campground

A forest it certainly was ... and even in the early days of an unusually cold spring, the trees were beautiful as was the red bluff which surrounded the campground. Our stay at Red Bluff Campground, however, was not what we had expected - in more ways than one!

For anyone considering a camping stay in Mark Twain National Forest, take a look at this review following our two night stay. As with most any campground, there are plusses and minuses, so you'll have to decide for yourself which park amenities are most important to you!

Entrance to Red Bluff Recreation Area

Entrance to Red Bluff Recreation Area

Campground Amenities at Red Bluff Campground

With a total of 22 campsites available for reservations during the April 5 through October 28 camping season, Red Bluff is a rather small campground compared to most others where we have had the opportunity to stay. The campground was clean upon our arrival just one day after the beginning of peak season. While dumpsters are onsite for trash, shower facilities at Red Bluff Campground are non-existent, and the only toilets are of the pit kind! It is also worth noting that exiting the campground requires a drive up a very steep road.

Depending on the time of year, recreational activities at the campground vary. During our visit, other than some freezing cold weather hiking, options were pretty limited. For those lucky enough to visit when the temperatures are warmer, water sports are prevalent. Although the water can be fast moving, in addition to fishing for bass, perch or catfish, campers have the opportunity to swim or tube in Huzzah Creek.

Of the 15 campgrounds at which we have camped since purchasing "RV There Yet?", the $82.00 price tag on our campsite won the prize for the most expensive nightly rate. In our opinion, it was not a worthy prize for a campground with no on-site sewer (in fact not even a dump station) plus no fresh water available during our stay. To be fair, we mistakenly reserved a double site (two picnic tables, two lantern hooks and space for two long vehicles) at a rate of $22.00 nightly for the site plus an additional nightly charge of $14.00 for electric. Had we reserved a single site, we could have cut our nightly charge in half, and with the $10.00 reservation fee, the cost of our stay would have been more in line with other places we've stayed. (We are always learning, and we now know to avoid "DBL" sites on Recreation.gov - unless we really need or want one.)

Campsite Amenities at Red Bluff Campground

Online reservations at Red Bluff Campground are easy to make, and single night stays are permitted. Our walk through the campground was interesting, and I for one was very surprised (disappointed) at some of the sites and services available:
  • All sites in Loop A (1 - 23) and most of the sites in Loop B (sites numbered 30+) are in well marked flood areas, and therefore have no electric connections. The only six sites offering electric in Loop B were those numbered 24 - 29.
  • Although we were very early in the season, it appeared that the vast majority of the sites in Loop A were in disrepair. Many were overgrown and the pavement was cracked and very worn; the same could be said for sites numbered 30+ in Loop B.

On a positive note:

  • The sites with electric connections are nicely paved (site 26 even has a sidewalk path to the picnic tables).
  • In addition to a picnic table, lantern hook and fire ring, most sites have a covered wooden food preparation / serving area near the picnic area.
  • The view of Huzzah Creek from the low water crossing sites in Loop B was nice, even in freezing temperatures. I feel certain it would be even more beautiful once the temperature warms up and the shoreline trees have leaves.

View of Huzzah Creek from Loop B Low Water Crossing Campsites at Red Bluff Campground

View of Huzzah Creek from Loop B Low Water Crossing Campsites at Red Bluff Campground

With a partially graveled picnic area and a concrete sidewalk path to the two picnic tables, our double campsite (Loop B, Site 26) was a nice one. As did most other sites within the campground, site 26 also has a food preparation / serving area, a fire pit with a grill and 2 lantern hooks. While the site does not have trees which will accommodate hammocks due to their spacing, the campsite is well shaded.

Picnic Area at Red Bluff Campground Loop B, Site 26

Picnic Area at Red Bluff Campground Loop B, Site 26

Back-in parking at the paved double site was easy, and the site was flat. The only utility available at site 26 is 50-/30-/20-amp electric. Although there was no water in the park at all during our visit due to a freeze warning, water is typically available in central locations along the road, but not at individual campsites.

Campsite 26 in Loop B of Red Bluff Campground

Campsite 26 in Loop B of Red Bluff Campground

Neither cell nor data connections were available through Verizon or T-Mobile, and there were no broadcast television stations available. I was able to connect to AT&T cell and data services through T-Mobile in the Pines Overlook Camping Area, a short drive away.

Favorite Campsites at Red Bluff Campground

Our favorite single site with electric was Loop B, Site 28 as it has a nicely paved area for a car in addition to the RV parking space. Our favorite double site with electric was Loop B, Site 26 (the site we stayed in) due to the ease of parking plus the fact that the site was relatively flat.

Hiking at Red Bluff Campground

Although due to the freezing temperatures, we did not hike the 1.2 mile Red Bluff Trail, we did make a stop to take a look at the trailhead. Had it not been so cold, we would definitely have hiked the loop trail which reportedly would have taken us from trees into a hollow and back again.

Trailhead for Red Bluff Trail

Trailhead for Red Bluff Trail

Would We Return to Red Bluff Campground?

While we knew in advance that each individual site did not have water, we had certainly expected that we could fill our fresh water tank when we arrived. It wasn't until our Friday afternoon arrival that we were made aware that all water had been shut off earlier in the day due to the expected freeze. Ugh!

We learn new things on nearly every trip that we take with "RVThere Yet?". On this trip, we confirmed what Scott had suspected - our fresh water had completely leaked out of the overflow tube when we were towing our trailer to the park. Other than being wasteful, that would not normally have been a problem. During this stay, however, it meant no water (other than what was left in our tank) for at least two days. Luckily, we always carry several gallons of water outside of our water tank along with us just in case we have a need. Oh well, if Mark Twain could make do without fresh water connected to his RV (ha ha), we were sure that we could too.

While Park Host Buddy was the bearer of the bad news about the park's water situation, he was very gracious to offer us some fire wood due to the extremely cold forecast. He also was the person who let us know that, depending on cell phone carriers, some people have success getting service in the nearby Pines Overlook Camping Area. We were glad that he mentioned this as, in addition to my coverage through T-Mobile, the view from above was just as, or maybe even more beautiful than the view from the lower campsites.

View from Pines Overlook Camping Area

View from Pines Overlook Camping Area

The season for Red Bluff Campground begins on April 5 (just one day before our arrival), and with the atypical freezing temperatures, our experience wasn't quite what we had hoped for. Only one site in addition to ours was occupied during our visit ... not too many people crazy enough to be camping when snow was being predicted! Kudos to Buddy for being available during our visit to direct us to our site, provide us with up to date information, answer our questions and even offer to help us out.

While we certainly were not experiencing the forest as Mark Twain did, I sort of felt like we were on the verge of boondocking (but without water) as I was so longing for a shower! I would definitely consider returning to this campground in the late spring, summer or early fall when I could be sure that the weather would be warm, however I would avoid a return visit in cold weather.

Camping in Missouri

If you'll be spending more time in Missouri, you'll likely be visiting the Kansas City area at some point. Take a look at our reviews of both Lewis and Clark State Park and Weston Bend State Park. Although quite different from each other, both parks have campsites and amenities worth considering, and both are within a relatively short drive to the Kansas City area making day trips possible.

Cold Weather Camping

We'd love to hear your stories about cold weather camping! Please take a few minutes to share some of your experiences in the comments section below about a time when you either expectedly or unexpectedly spent time in your tent or RV when temperatures were at, near or below freezing.

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Review:  Red Bluff Campground


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