KC Area Park Review: Smithville Lake – And Visit With Fulltimer Friends

A couple of weeks ago Karen and I spent an afternoon with Kenny and Angela who are a couple from the Kansas City area traveling in a fifth wheel. Their blog site is RV Life is Good. They are taking a break from blogging but continue to update everyone about their adventures on Facebook.

Kenny and Angela have been staying a few months at Smithville Lake, Missouri. They once lived in a sticks and bricks home north of downtown Kansas City. As I recall they have been on the road about four years. I read their blog from start to finish and highly recommend it for those in the planning stages.

Smithville Lake 1
Kenny and Angela lived for a year in their fifth wheel at Basswood Resort before retirement. Now when they come back to town and visit family they stay at Smithville Lake. This is a county park and very well maintained. Unfortunately, Karen and I did not take any photos so the ones that appear in this blog post are from the internet. Smithville is a Corp of Engineers Lake which is leased back to Clay County who maintain it with a large park staff.
Snap 2015-05-29 at 16.54.09

The County has a web page through which camping sites are reserved. The lake is about 30 minutes from downtown Kansas City. There is much to visit within driving distance that include about the entire metro area.  Jesse James and his gang lived and “worked” in the area. His homestead/museum and grave is located in nearby Kearney Missouri. He died in Saint Joseph Missouri which is about a 45 minute drive to the north.  If you would rather take time to fish, there are plenty of good spots to fish from the shore at Smithville.

Smithville Lake Camping Fees

Smithville Lake Camping Fees

Smithville Lake would definitely be a place to stay for long term visits. RV Parks Review.com rates the park a four star. There are two big rig friendly camping areas that allow stays of 30 days each. The camping areas are called Crows Creek and Camp Branch. Kenny and Angela stay at one camp site for 30 days, then move to another for 30 days. There are sites with electrical and water but no sewer. Kenny says he uses his blue boy to empty his tanks at the dump station. They were parked at a site with no water but were able to run their hose to a nearby water spigot to fill the tank. Kenny also has an electric pump he can use to fill the RVs tank from a five gallon jug. When touring local RV parks for long term stays we are looking for spots that are big rig friendly, have good monthly or daily rates, pet friendly, full hookups and the possibility to workcamp. Smithville Lake meets all these criteria other than having no sewer connections. Kenny mentioned they stayed in the desert for months and learned to live without full hookups. I noticed signs in the area asking to hire camp hosts and marina help. I also noticed another sign – no guns. Have to figure that one out. What do people do with their guns when they live fulltime in an RV and are prohibited from taking them into a park? At least Smithville Lake is a very safe place. It’s well patrolled by a professional ranger staff and county deputies.

I should note there are long trails around and near the lake which are perfect for walking the dogs. The county is investing heavily in trail construction. Here is a link to a blog about the trails. Of course the abundance of paved road are a bone-us for dog walkers.

City Park Below Damn

City Park Below Dam

As I have visited and camped at Smithville Lake in the past I’m aware cell phones work great and there is no wifi. Television and satellite connections should have no problem. Kenny had a portable satellite dish siting on the ground outside the camper. When parked for long stays he calls his satellite provider in order to get local channels. Although a standard digital RV antenna could easily pickup local channels at the lake. Just below the dam is a city run RV park called Smith’s Fork. I’m not sure of the amenities. I drove through and noted it does not appear to accommodate larger rigs.

Of course we asked Kenny and Angela all the questions one might have when considering the lifestyle of living in an RV fulltime.  What I found most special is watching Karen and Angela visiting about things females might consider while on the road.  Karen was glad to learn Angela finds room in their Cedar Creek fifth wheel for a lot of shoes. They bought the rig and their Dodge one ton dually as a package deal.  Kenny found the nearly new rig online, flew in to buy it and drove it home.  The prior owner had the rig for about a year but due to illness had to sell it. I know the rig and truck had been advertised in the classified section of an RV forum.

Kenny and Angela Rig - Photo From Their Blog

Kenny and Angela Rig – Photo From Their Blog

We had lunch together. Karen and I headed back to our home in Excelsior Springs Missouri.  It was a wonderful visit and hope to meet up with the couple again soon.  They are on their way to Colorado for a summer workamping job.  Kenny gave us a copy of Workamper News and Escapees Magazine. I subscribe to a video cast put on by Technomadia and asked what magazine would be great to have in hard copy. They recommended Escapees. It’s a little off topic but Technomadia happened to recently be in St. Louis Missouri and drafted up a great guide to RVing in St. Louis.

As of now, I believe Smithville Lake might be or preferred place for long term stays when visiting family in Kansas City.  However, because of no full hookups we will continue to research other locations. One last thing, I almost forgot, Kenny handed me a business card with his contact information .  Apparently it is common practice that fulltimers come up with a card to handout.


10 thoughts on “KC Area Park Review: Smithville Lake – And Visit With Fulltimer Friends

  1. Mark it was great to meet you and Karen. I see you are covering all your bases and doing a lot of research. That’s what we (I) did and the time will fly by fast. We hope to see you guys on the road and maybe a winter in AZ. Kenny and Angela


      • I am looking into spending time in Texas next winter. Would love to hear what you learn from your research!


  2. Arlene, it will be awhile till I take a hard look at Texas. Retirement for me is in about 2019. Karen and I are interested in Texas as a possible place to use for residency. I know South Dakota and Florida are the two other hot spots for residency. Not sure if things will change before 2019. What I’m doing now is paying attention to how other’s travel in Texas as I read blogs. I also keep adding possible future stops in a spreadsheet I’m keeping. Figure the spreadsheet will help make a decision as to where we will spend most of our time. I’ve only been keeping the spreadsheet for about six months, adding places I read about or otherwise find out about from others.

    Texas is closer to Missouri so it would be easier to return home to visit family compared to Florida or South Dakota.

    All that considered, I’m sure we will choose one of the popular states to call home in retirement based on financial considerations, ease to become a resident, motor vehicle licensing, health care, taxes and more.

    In terms of winter spots in Texas, so far, I have only one spot listed. Hidden Oaks RV Resort in Rockport Texas. Heard about it on the Live Laugh RV blog. Cheap place to stay in winter. Here is the link to their blog post which includes other areas in Texas:


    I’ve got about five other stops listed for Texas, but this was the only winter stop. I’m sure I’ll be adding more later.

    Here are a couple other links I have in the spreadsheet:




  3. Pingback: Life in Kansas City | Our Future in an RV

  4. Pingback: Family Time in Another Wonderful Missouri Park | Our Future in an RV

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