• Seven one-of-a-kind campsites in Missouri and Illinois
  • Glamping, yurts, tree house camping, and other unique sites

Camping doesn’t have to mean staying in a cramped tent pegged to the ground. These days, you can find a great variety of outdoor lodging options in St. Louis and around Missouri and Illinois. Here are seven of our region’s most unique places to stay on your next getaway.

Camp Long Creek
Set against the backdrop of Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, the glamping tents at this campground within the property of Big Cedar Lodge (pictured, top) are rustic and inviting spaces. Each unit expands around a king-size bed with overhead chandelier. Relax out front in a private space with firepit and outdoor tub, or out back on a patio with table and chairs overlooking the water. On-site amenities include a swimming pool, beach access, boat rental at the Long Creek Marina, fishing and hiking, and other special touches like s’mores kits for guests upon arrival. Additional accommodations include two-person luxury huts, two-person camp cabins, and four-person camp cabins. bigcedar.com

Lost Hill Lake

Lost Hill Lake camping

This 200-acre property in St. Clair, Missouri, just a short drive from St. Louis, boasts four glamping opportunities that include a repurposed school bus that sleeps five, two refurbished Apache campers that sleep four each (pictured), and a VW Microbus for three. All the accommodations lie nearby the property’s 15-acre lake. There’s also access to the Meramec River, a scenic hiking trail, and a 3-acre black walnut grove. The glamping spaces are served by an outdoor restroom and shower house with hot water and a community kitchen with refrigerator, toaster, grill, sink, and coffee station. They also include porches with outdoor lighting, furniture, fire pits, and availability of equipment like kayaks, paddleboards, and small boats. losthilllakeevents.com

Glamping St. Louis 

St. Louis Glamping

Modern-day river barons will feel right at home in either of two safari-style tents that float on private docks along a channel leading to the Mississippi River. Each heated/cooled tent is decked out with a king bed, futon bed, mini refrigerator, and fire ring. Guests gain access to a private bathroom at the lodge and can take advantage of complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and drinking water at the outdoor kitchen, which also has a grill, camp stove, and microwave. A third glamping tent on land is more secluded and overlooks a private pond. A cozy cottage and A-frame round out the offerings. Enjoy fishing, biking, boating, or simply watching the wildlife from your relaxing refuge. glampingstl.com

Spring Lake Ranch

High Hope Treehouse

Perfect for a romantic escape in the woods, this High Hope Treehouse floats 20 feet in the air just a stone’s throw from beautiful Sayersbrook Lake on Spring Lake Ranch in Potosi, Missouri. Soak in the private hot tub and then count the stars as you gaze through the high windows in the loft area with California king bed. The climate-controlled space also comes with a richly decorated kitchenette, bathroom with shower, living room, sitting area, and outdoor patio. Explore the hiking trails, rent a kayak or canoe, or sign up for a horseback riding excursion. The ranch also includes RV sites on the lake, a cottage, and new rustic cabins for rent. springlakeranchmo.com

Table Rock State Park

Table Rock State Park Yurt

Never stayed in a yurt? You’re in for a fun experience. For the uninitiated: a yurt is a circular structure with a fabric cover, like a tent, and a wooden frame that makes it strong and weathertight. The premium yurt at Table Rock State Park sleeps up to six in two bedrooms — one with a queen bed and the other with twin bunkbeds — plus a living room with sleeper sofa. The mod-cons are all here: air conditioning/heating, bathroom with tub and shower, full kitchen with oven and refrigerator, and televisions. A wooden deck with lake view surrounds the structure, with a picnic table, cooking grill, fire ring and lantern post. The yurt is available year-round and is ADA accessible. mostateparks.com

Timber Ridge Outpost

Timber Ridge - Maple Oak Treehouse

For an unforgettable experience, two charming treehouses near Karbers Ridge, Illinois, in the Shawnee National Forest let you sit outside and watch birds fly at eye level around the forest canopy. The White Oak Treehouse (four to six people) is built in a 200-year-old white oak tree, while the Maple Oak Treehouse (two to four people) is built over a small creek between a red maple and white oak. The frills include multi-level decks, real beds, bathrooms with showers and toilets, kitchenettes with appliances, heat/air conditioning, and campfire areas with grills, a picnic table, and hammock. Rather keep your feet on the ground? Check out the four delightful log cabins on the same property. timberridgeoutpost.com

Camp Ondessonk

Camp Ondessonk

When its not hosting an outdoor Catholic youth camp during the summer, this scenic property in Ozark, Illinois, allows families and groups to rent its signature, open-air treehouses. The three-sided units are nestled among the natural surroundings and intentionally designed and located to maximized visitors’ immersion in nature. Several are built on the lakefront, others on a rocky bluff — one has its own waterfall. Most treehouse villages have between five and six cabins and sleep around 40 guests. All have fire pits, benches, a picnic table, water spigot, outhouse, and are within walking distance of a shower house. ondessonk.com

Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.