Last weekend the temperatures in Kansas City were in the 50’s. We call this the January thaw and took the time to enjoy the weather while walking the dogs at the nearby Watkins Mill State Park.
I had been thinking about blog topics to write about which include an article about all the wonderful things to see and do in the Kansas City area. I had noticed while looking at various travel maps, many full-timers don’t seem to come through town much. Suppose St. Louis may seem like a better destination given most want to see the arch. Kansas City is a wonderful place to visit and I could see someone spending a month here while touring the sites.
So, I’ve decided to write about the great spots as we visit them, paying special attention to how others might want to enjoy the city in an RV. I suppose Watkins Mill has typical state park RV sites. Parts of the park were shut down for the season so there might be a larger site available that we did not see. I read a park review where someone was able to visit in a 40′ mobile home. They also advertise as having larger lots available. They had a dump station with water. There were electrical only gravel spots but advertise as having a few concrete spots. Lots of trees and a smaller lake to enjoy. I know from experience at night there is plenty of wildlife running up and down the roads throughout the park.
Down the road a few miles is the James Farm where Frank and Jesse had lived with their parents. Jesse is buried in the town of Kearney, also nearby.
Kearney Missouri is off Interstate 35 about 30 minutes north of downtown Kansas City in Clay County. If I were to stay in the area with a larger rig I’d go to Smithville Missouri and stay at the County Park known as Smithville Lake. You can find full hookups there with more selection than at Watkins Mill.
What is most wonderful about Watkins Mill is the 100% restored farm which includes the mill, large house, outbuildings and more. If you take the full tour it takes four hours. There is also a local museum that describes the operation of the mill which included families living on the property while working at the mill. I’d stay two nights in Smithville to take in the James Farm and Watkins Mill. There may be a better RV park north of Platte City, Missouri better suitable for longer term stays. I’ve not checked it out but if I do I’ll post about it. From either Smithville or Platte City you can make it to downtown Kansas. City in 30 minutes. Plenty to do and see. If you’re up to it, there is a 3.8 mile paved trail at Watkins Mill.
Some may recall Kansas City is on the state line between Kansas and Missouri. Wyandotte County holds the Kansas portion of the city. For some of you Yankees you might want to stay on that side of the city! LOL. Yes, lots of civil war things to see in the area. After all issues between Missouri and Kansas started much of the conflict. That being the Missouri Compromise followed by the Kansas/Nebraska Act.
The James boys, Cole Younger and his family, William Anderson and more are names you may know if you studied up on guerrilla warfare during the civil war. They are all buried an easy drive from Watkins Mill. A wonderful movie, Ride with the Devil, includes scenes shot at Watkins Mill.
(Update) I went back to the park on 4/28/15. The visit was work related and lead me to talk to a camp host. After taking care of business I asked them a few questions. This is the 7th year they have volunteered for the park. They live in a nearby town and spend 3 to 4 months at the park. They said Watkins Mill is one of the older state parks and there are only two lots that can handle a 38 or 40 foot rig. The spots are hard to get in. A spot can be rented for no longer than 14 days so some people go back and forth between another local state park which is Wallace State Park. I noticed the gates are locked from 10 pm to 8 am but campers have a code to get in and out.