Weekends get reserved as soon as the Reservation system opens up each Spring. So go on the dnr site & pay your fees, if you want to get away for a weekend or longer. Mid-week is less busy so you may be able to just "show up" & find a spot for a few nights.
Hot showers, lots of trees and the sound of the creek nearby are the main stars for this camping experience. You don't get any privacy, however. It is open and flat. You can see your neighbors very well, which I do not like. But you do not need to stay in the campground much! Go to the creek and get wet! Or go hiking. also, you can go to the nearby picnic area and cook you breakfast there. No crowds there for breakfast, I imagine!
We heard some owls and whipperwills at night. Actually, the whipperwills made it difficult to sleep! They can be so loud if in a tree nearby.
There is the option to backpack into the trail area and sleep there. You are supposed to register to do that. I think you can register when you get there and it is easy.
This is the prettiest park near St. Louis that I know of. Pickle Creek has a sandy bottom and is very clear and refreshing. It isn't deep but great for wading. You will find some fine sand along the shores, in places, to put you toes into, after a refreshing dip.
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