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Thousand Hills State Park

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The cool waters of Forest Lake provide the centerpiece for Thousand Hills State Park, whose woody shores and broad savannas recall a time when northern Missouri was far less developed. The lake offers fishing, swimming and boating. The park offers hiking, mountain biking, and abundant opportunities to see wildlife. An interpretive shelter helps visitors understand the petroglyphs left behind by the area's inhabitants more than 1,500 years ago. The park also offers campsites and cabins for overnight stays.

Water recreation is a highlight of the park's outdoor activities. The lake and its 17 miles of shoreline make it popular for fishing, water skiing, paddleboating, canoeing and motorboating. A fully equipped marina offering boat rentals and supplies is located on the lake, which is stocked with crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish. For visitors who want to dip into the cool waters, there is a pay swimming beach along the shore. Nearby is a beach house with dressing rooms, showers and a snack bar.

Scattered among the oak and hickory trees are numerous campsites, many of which have electrical hookups. There are water fountains, dumping stations, modern restrooms and hot showers available in the camping area. In addition, seven duplex cabins overlook the lake's shoreline near the modern dining lodge. Picnic sites are located throughout the park and along the lakeshore. There are four open shelters and one enclosed shelter with electricity that can be reserved in advance.

Several hiking and mountain bicycling trails wind through the forest. Thousand Hills Trail was developed as a cooperative project of the Community Betterment Association of Kirksville, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The trail traverses both the Big Creek Conservation Area and Thousand Hills State Park.

The natural beauty of the area can be seen in the rolling upland areas of the park, which are covered with second-growth forests of white oak, northern red oak and shagbark hickory with an understory of mulberry, redbud and ironwood. Swamp white oak, silver maple, cottonwood and sycamore can be found in the bottomland along the Chariton River. Wildlife includes white-tailed deer, wild turkey, beaver, raccoon, red fox, Canada geese and turkey vulture.

More than half of northern Missouri was once covered in native grasses and savanna, but only remnants remain today. Several of these remnants can be found at Thousand Hills State Park. Controlled burning and selective cutting of some woody vegetation encourages the restoration of savanna and prairie species such as big bluestem, Indian grass, rattlesnake master, blazing star and several goldenrods.


Thousand Hills State Park offers two campgrounds:

Campground 1 is open and reservable during the on-season (April through October) and offers basic and electric campsites, modern restrooms, showers, water and a dump station.

Campground 2 is open and reservable year-round and offers electric campsites. Modern restrooms, showers, water and a dump station are available during the on-season.

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Details and Specs

Hours of Operation:
Mon7:00 AM10:00 PM
Tue7:00 AM10:00 PM
Wed7:00 AM10:00 PM
Thr7:00 AM10:00 PM
Fri7:00 AM10:00 PM
Sat7:00 AM10:00 PM
Sun7:00 AM10:00 PM
Notes: Above Are Summer Hours (On-Season) April through October Winter Hours (Off-Season) November through March 7 a.m. to sunset, daily


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