It’s safe to say that most of us are thrilled for warmer weather, to breathe in the fresh air, witness the greening of nature, undertake an outdoor adventure, and relax afterward with a cold drink and breathtaking views. Located in central Missouri and a close drive from Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis, Benton County is tailor-made for such pursuits – and much more.
Benton County is home to the welcoming towns of Lincoln, Warsaw, and Cole Camp, each rich in history and offering unique festivals and events, including the Outdoor Fun and Adventure Show in Warsaw, Cole Camp Picnic & Pickin in the Park, Warsaw Jubilee Days, and Smokin’ Hot Harborfest. Quaint boutiques, antique malls, and independently owned restaurants calling to families and foodies. At the end of the day, unwind and stay overnight at a cozy motel, charming inn, rustic cabin, or short-term vacation rental.
If being one with nature is more your thing, Benton County has dozens of campgrounds and RV parks for an authentic outdoor experience. And thanks to a diverse terrain featuring woods and fields surrounded by lakes and streams, Benton County’s outdoor recreation activities are nearly endless. Here are a few of our recommended outdoor opportunities in the area.
Live the Lake Life
Two of Missouri’s largest lakes reside in Benton County: Truman Lake and the Osage Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, providing hours of boating, fishing, swimming, and family fun. Truman Lake is known for being uncrowded and scenic, with excellent crappie, catfish, and bass fishing. The Osage Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks has been heralded as the “spoonbill capital.” These quieter lakes set amid rugged bluffs and rolling, forested hills offer easily accessible marinas for boat rentals and all the supplies you need for a day out on the lake.
Boardwalk & Trails
Drake Harbor lies just one block off Main Street in Warsaw and features 9 miles of riverfront trails that are perfect for a bicycle ride, run, or leisurely stroll. The Drake Harbor Trail and footbridge leads to the historic Joe Dice Swinging Bridge, which connects to the Bledsoe Ferry Trail and the Kickapoo Island Trail. You will also find the beautiful Steamboat Landing Boardwalk nearby. Spot native wildlife from the trails- eagles, foxes, deer, even wild turkeys – and grab lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Mountain Biking & More
Three miles from downtown Warsaw, Truman Lake Mountain Bike and Hiking Park is designed for riders of all ages and skills. The park offers 25+ miles of scenic downhills, challenging climbs, twisting singletrack, and access to swimming holes on beautiful Truman Lake. As part of the Warsaw Trails System, the park is also available for hiking whenever there are no special events being held.
A Very Stately Park
Clear waters, dramatic bluffs, and vibrant summer and fall colors make Harry S Truman State Park an Ideal place to get away. Located on the peninsula, the park has a marina, ample fishing and boating options, and waters that are perfect for swimming. In addition, hiking trails, picnic areas, and campsites dot the park’s oak woodlands and provide a home for abundant wildlife. Check out the Harry S Truman Regional Visitor Center Complex, Pioneer Village, and Shawnee Bend Municipal Golf Course, just a short drive from the park.
Adventures by Land or Lake
Warsaw Adventures is an outfitter that provides kayak and paddleboard rentals to access the isolated, 65+ acre lake at the Warsaw Adventures kayak launch – located out back of the store – where visitors can paddle out into a sprawling network of wetlands and quiet coves. Experience abundant wildlife and plants as you paddle along the 4 miles of shoreline that includes the Reinhart Fajen Nature Park, MK White Park, and Osage riverfront trail – perfect for a relaxing and picturesque experience in nature. Special events such as eco-sunset tours and guided bike tours are available upon request to larger groups.