Mark Twain Lake and State Park

Where:  Mark Twain Lake – Corps of Engineers Site (

Mark Twain State Park (

County:  Ralls and Monroe

Closest Town:  Paris, Perry

When: June 21 to  25, 2008

What:  Useful information (hopefully) from our recent trip to Mark Twain State Park and Lake.

People normally don’t think of Northern Missouri when the term Lake Country is used.  But Mark Twain State Lake is certainly of the caliber to compete with Truman, Lake of the Ozarks, Pom De Terre, and Table Rock.  Nestled in the Northeast part of the state, this many fingered lake is one of Missouri’s secret gems. This article covers the lake, State Park, Mark Twain historical site, fishing, camping, and a few miscellaneous items. 

Mark Twain Lake  

I tend to be an explorer on our vacations, but to explore this lake a person would need a couple of weeks.  Mark Twain has many access points via the recreation areas and the State Park.  There are several arms and many little coves.  In addition to the lake itself there are also other attractions, such as the Mark Twain Museum – discussed below.  I was amazed at how few people were using the campgrounds and actually on the lake.  I never saw more than one or two boats at a time; of course we were there mostly during the week. The weekends are probably another matter.

There is still plenty of standing timber in the water.  Boats venturing out of the deep water need to be careful.  However, for our kayak this was not a problem.

State Park

The state park has numerous campsites – basic, electric, and some wonderful camper cabins.  We stayed in a camper cabin.  They have electricity, a microwave, a queen bed, a futon, a table, and a loft that can sleep two children.  “Children” is the operative word for the loft.  My 6’3” son would have been a little uncomfortable up there, although he could have done it in a pinch. The cabins do NOT have water, thus the name “camper cabin.”

A camper cabin hint – the units at the west end of the campground have better views of and access to the lake.  We stayed in cabin “A” which had a trail to the lake, but the lake was full of logs and weeds; pretty hard to fish there.  However, we were close to the shower house and restrooms – which are very modern.  The shower house has individual showers with private doors. Continue reading


Cooley Lake – Clay County

Where:  Cooley Lake ( (link to Missouri Dept of Conservation map and area summary)

County:  Clay County

Closest Town:  Missouri City

When: June 25, 2008

What:  Stopped here briefly on our way home from Mark Twain Lake.  I wanted to scout Cooley for a future kayaking and fishing trip.  We quickly saw that kayaking this lake would be difficult until the lily pads were gone.  It is a very shallow, oxbow lake filled with vegetation.  I’m sure that bird watching is great during migratory times.  There may also be a few fish in the deeper portions of the lake.  There’s a wooded hillside on the North end of the area.  I’ve hunted mushrooms there in the past.  Lewis and Clark would have made their way through this former loop of the Missouri river.  There’s a marker indicating such – unfortunately someone thought the sign would be a good target. When the fall comes, I may return with my kayak and fishing rod.  Just to say I’ve kayaked this lake – of course my daughters think I’m crazy for wanting to kayak here.  But making my teenage daughters think I’m crazy is a park of my job description these days.  I enjoy it.

Guy B. Park Conservation Area – Platte County

Where:  Guy B. Park Conservation Area and Tobacco Hills Lake ( (link to Missouri Dept of Conservation map and area summary)

County:  Platte County

Closest Town:  Platte City

When: June 25, 2008

What:  This area is a treat for someone looking for a quick way to wet the line after work.  The area consists of a 19 acre lake settled at the bottom of a wooded hillside. Our first cast produced an 8 inch bluegill.  We later found out (from a very pleasant Conservation Officer) that the lake is managed for large bluegills.  It’s a no-motor lake and ideal for canoes or kayaks.  There’s also a nice, covered fishing dock and a boat ramp.  My daughter caught and released an 11 or 12 inch bass which she was excited about.  Talk about clear water!  This is the clearest water I’ve seen since being on the Meremac last summer.  You could see as deep as the light would allow.  I saw a nice bass about 4 feet down.  We had fun watching the turtles bounce our bobbers.  I took a serene paddle around the lake just before sunset.  We ended up with 11 nice bluegill. I hated to post about this place, because too much traffic will spoil it.  Just enjoy it and take your trash when you leave – according to the Conservation Officer many people just leave their trash laying around. You’ll be glad you made this trip. Oh…yes, the turtle was released.


Smithville Lake – Kayaking Misadventure

“Ahhh, sunrise in 12 minutes, I’ll be able to get some great pictures of it coming up over the lake,”  I thought while pulling into the Smithville lake parking lot.  

My goal this morning was to put another notch in my lakes-in-Missouri-I’ve-kayaked-on belt.  I also wanted to get some nice sunrise pictures while out on the lake.  On the spiritual side I thought doing my devotions on the kayak would be nice.  In God’s creation and all – what better place to read my Bible?  On the less spiritual side, a person always needs to have a fishing rod with him when in his kayak.  Anything less is unmanly.  This was going to be a great morning and all before I went into the office. Continue reading

Kendzora Conservation Area and Lake – Platte County

Where:  Kendzora Conservation Area and Lake ( (link to Missouri Dept of Conservation map and area summary)

County:  Platte and Buchanan County

Closest Town:  Edgerton

When: May 27, 2008

What:  Spent the day kayak fishing on this 35 acre lake.  Caught about 12 largmouth bass, 1 crappie, a bluegill, and a catfish.  The largest bass was about 2.5 pounds and the catfish 3 pounds.  Released all but 4 of the bass. I had my line break twice on bigger fish.  I was using a bobber and minnow most of the time. This is a great lake if you have a canoe or kayak as it doesn’t allow motors.  It’s small enough that you can get around easily.  There are a lot of standing trees on the east side and a few small coves if it get’s too windy.  The North end of the lake is very shallow – 1 ft to 3 ft deep.  There are two parking areas, but both are quite a ways from the lake.  I parked below the dam and hauled my kayak up the bank.  There’s a small walkway on the west end of they dam you can see from the road.