Hidden Gems

An RVer's Guide to Mark Twain National Forest


Hidden Gems of the National Forest System

THOR and the National Forest Foundation are bringing you one step closer to the “hidden gems” of the National Forest system. Get tips for RVing at these national forest destinations and why they are some of the RV community’s best-kept secrets.

About Mark Twain National Forest

The Mark Twain National Forest is located in southern and central Missouri and encompasses roughly 1.5 million acres, mostly within the Ozark Highlands. Parts of the National Forest are within an hour’s drive of St. Louis, Springfield, and Columbia, making it the perfect destination for RV travels through the Midwest. 

The history of the Ozarks is long and rich. This geographic area has maintained an ancient landscape characterized by large permanent springs, over 5,000 caves, rocky barren glades, and old volcanic mountains – untouched by ancient oceans or glaciers. 

What To Do In Mark Twain

The Mark Twain National Forest has many beautiful rivers, lakes, and streams, offering a number of water activities, including boating, canoeing, and fishing.

Mark Twain National Forest also offers a wide variety of trails covering some 742 miles of the Ozarks. A few are restricted to hikers only, but many are open to mountain bikes and horses, and two areas are set aside for ATV and motorcycle enthusiasts.

Exploring Mark Twain's


Remnants of many different eras exist today in the Forest, including historic Civilian Conservation Corp constructions, spring-powered mills, and silver mines. Click here to find more information on historical sites located in the Mark Twain National Forest.

Scenic Byways and Attractions

Drive the Glade Top National Forest Scenic Byway, named for the beautiful glades that surround the ridge tops of the area. Along the byway are seven overlooks that provide panoramic views of the Ozarks.

The 24-mile Blue Buck Knob National Forest Scenic Byway is ideal for a scenic afternoon drive through farmland, open pastures, and densely wooded hillsides. Notable stops include:

  1. Noblett Lake where you can picnic under the shade of sugar maples, go fishing or boating to cool off, or cross Highway AP to visit the remains of the CCC Camp Willow.
  2. Blue Hole Trailhead where you can access the Ridge Runner and Ozark Trails.

Click here for a full list of scenic driving areas in the Mark Twain National Forest.

Greer Springs in Mark Twain National Forest.

Other popular attractions in the area include:

Mark Twain National Forest

Top Attractions

Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway
A 23-mile scenic byway with seven panoramic overlook "pull-outs." Enjoy views of limestone/dolomite glades, narrow ridge tops, rolling countryside, and lush woodlands.
Blue Buck Knob National Forest Scenic Byway
Occupying 24 miles of the Mark Twain National Forest, this scenic byway offers farmland, open pastures, and densely wooded hillsides for your viewing pleasure. Take advantage of recreational opportunities and scenic overlooks.
Noblett Lake
A fisher's paradise, Noblett Lake is home to bluegill, sunfish, bass, and catfish. The recreational area also offers picnic tables, a pavilion, and an idyllic 22-mile Ridge Runner Trail for sport-seekers.
Blue Hole Trail
Traverse 13 miles of maintained trails that wind along scenic ridgetops and hallows dotted with oak hardwoods and southern pine. And for the waterfall hunters, seek out Blue Hole Falls for a swimming hole surrounded by waterfalls.
Greer Spring
The second largest spring in Missouri, Greer Spring flows from two underground springs at the bottom of a steep ravine. To get there, embark on a short hike of .9 miles through hardwoods and pines.
Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River
44 miles of scenic undeveloped shoreline and watershed, the Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River is the ideal escape for nature-lovers. The river winds through picturesque Ozark hills, steep bluffs, forested valleys, and low-lying riparian ecosystems.
Falling Spring Mill
Travel back in time by visiting the Fall Spring Mill—a rustic picnic area that's home to an old mill used in the 1920s for grinding corn, sawing out shingles, sawing firewood, and generating electricity.
Markham Spring Recreation Area
Markham Spring Recreation Area is home to bubbly springs, a small 2-acre pond that dates back to the 1800s, dense forest, and the historic Fuchs House. Explore local history while immersing yourself in vibrant natural landscapes.
Fourche Lake pictured with a dock and fall foliage in Mark Twain National Forest.
Plan Your Trip

RV Camping

With more than 20 designated RV campgrounds, the Mark Twain National Forest is an ideal destination for those looking to plan a trip to the area.

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The National Forest Foundation x THOR Industries

In 2020, THOR and the National Forest Foundation entered a partnership that will plant at least 500,000 trees on National Forest lands. Join us by supporting our National Forests and help improve the health of important public lands for future generations.

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