Lewis and Clark State Park in Rushville, MO is great for birdwatchers

Lewis and Clark State Park

Growing up just about 20 miles from it, I have been by the Lewis and Clark State Park dozens of times and never stopped by. I took some time to drop in recently and see what the park has to offer. It is a newer state park and it is not as big as most of them in Missouri (The state has a tendency to set aside huge tracts of land for parks)

William Clark wrote in this journals of a lake that was full of geese and ducks as he past through the area. It is widely believed that this is the lake that he spoke of and they have renamed the lake as Lewis and Clark lake.

Today, it is mainly used by birdwatchers that come. They enjoy the many types of birds that fly around the lake and enjoy the protection on the grounds of the park. (There is no hunting inside park land.)

The center piece of the Lewis and Clark State park is the old Sugar Lake (as we call it locally) that is over 360 acres and great for fishing (which is allowed). However, you will need to get a permit from the office there onsite.

Lewis and Clark Lake
Cooking at the Lewis and Clark Lake

Camping at the park

I am not much of a birdwatcher but I have been camping at the park, first as a boy scout in the early 1990’s and more recently. They have minimal facilities for camping but do they RV hookups. (Rvers are more what do camping there for the most part) With that said, there was recently (2016) a budget passed by the State that would heavily upgrade the park by 2018.

When we went, there was just tent site around a fireplace and they were very strict about using the fireplace (and making sure people watched the fire) due to the heat. The last thing that the park ranger wants is a wildfire out of control. It was not a huge deal for us because we have a smoker with us and used propane for the other things. In other words, we was not doing the hard core cook over open fire camping that some do.

For the weekend, it was just a lot of sitting around the fire at the site, going over the lake to fish, come back to clean the fish and put them in the smoker. There is not much else to do at the park to be honest. I do not remember any real hiking trails but across the highways is Bluff Woods forest which is a very dense canopy if you that is what you are after.

There is a small store on site if you need to buy something but for anything major, you would be better to run into the town of Rushville which is about 4 miles away and the much bigger (few thousand people) Atchison, Kansas is just 6 miles away. They have a Wal-Mart Supercenter if you need it.

How to get to Lewis and Clark State Park

If you are coming in from Kansas City metro, the best way is to head toward the airport and once you are past MCI, you will come to a town known as Platte City. Turn off the interstate onto Highway 273 and just follow it for 26 miles. You will pass Snow Creek Ski resort which is about seven miles before the state park on the other side of the highway.

If you are coming in from St. Joseph, you will just leave out of town on Highway 59 in the southend. You will drive down the highway about 17 miles. Highway 59 will turn toward Atchison but you will drive straight onto Highway 273. The intersection is about a mile and a half south of the state park.

If you are coming in from Topeka, You will take Highway 24 out to Highway 4. Once you are on the 4, you will follow it for 29 miles until you come to Highway 59. You will turn onto it and follow it through Atchison and across the bridge into Missouri. Once at the intersection on the other side of the bridge, you will turn right for 1.5 miles and you are at the park.

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