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part ofMark Twain National Forest, US Forest Service
Status: Open through Thu Dec 31 2015   Season Dates


Watercress Campground lies on the banks one of the forest’s greatest treasures; the Current River. Floats on the river provide views of southeastern Missouri that otherwise can't be seen. The area is home to a variety of birds and wildlife and recreation opportunities are plentiful in the surrounding area.

Natural Features:

Located within the town of Van Buren, the campground and day use area are adjacent to the Current River, which flows past scenic bluffs, springs, caves as it meanders through the Mark Twain National Forest toward Doniphan, MO.


Boating and canoeing on the Current River, as well as on other nearby rivers, are popular activities. A boat ramp for both motorized and non-motorized boats is available on the east bank of the Current River. Anglers enjoy fishing for bass, walleye, sunfish and the occasional catfish.

Big Spring, Missouri's largest spring, is just five miles from the campground. Hikers at Watercress area enjoy the Songbird Trail, a 1.2-mile loop that leads to Watercress Spring, passing remnants of Civil War-era earthwork that overlook the Current River.


The campground offers 17 campsites for tent or RV camping and the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each site is equipped with a table and campfire ring. Vault toilets and drinking water are provided.

Two group picnic shelters which can accommodate up to 75 people each are located alongside the river. Each is equipped with tables and grills. A seasonal trash collection dumpster is also available between April 1 and October 1 at the campground entrance.

Nearby Attractions:

The campground is adjacent to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which is a series of protected rivers in the area managed by the National Park Service. More information about the National Park Service sites can be found here.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Accessible Flush Toilets
  • Accessible Vault Toilets
  • Boat Ramp
  • Campfire Rings
  • Canoeing
  • Drinking Water
  • Fishing
  • Grills
  • Hiking
  • Parking Area
  • Picnic Shelters
  • Picnicking
  • River Access
  • Swimming
  • Tubing
Within 10 Miles
  • Boat Rentals
  • Dining Area
  • Fuel Available
  • Grocery Store
Know Before You Go
  • Overnight camping in campsites in the campground only. Campground open May 1-October 1.
  • Day Use Area open year-round
  • Boat Ramp open year-round
  • Drinking water and flush toilets are not available during winter months; flush toilets are available May 1- October 1.
  • Accessible vault toilets are available year-round in Day Use Area
  • Picnic Shelters are available year-round for reservations
  • Click here for more information on the Mark Twain National Forest
  • Don't move firewood: To limit the spread of invasive tree-killing pests, firewood from outside the area is not permitted. Some states have quarantines and may confiscate your firewood. Please help protect our forests from invasive species by obtaining your firewood at or near your camping destination and burning it on-site. Visit dontmovefirewood.org for more information.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
37.00194, -91.01861
37°0'7"N, 91°1'7"W

From Highway 60, drive north on Main Street to the National Park Service sign on Watercress Road. Turn north and drive just past the Park Service building complex, then make a left to Watercress Recreation Area. The picnic shelters are on the left toward the north end of the day use area.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

1420 Maud St.
Poplar Bluff  MO  63901

Phone Number:

Project Office: (573)785-1475
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Bureau of Land Management Federal Highway Administration National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration Smithsonian Institution USDA Forest Service US Army Corps of Engineers US Fish and Wildlife Service National Park Service Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tennessee Valley Authority Bureau of Reclamation National Archives Records Administration