Take a Day Trip to Mark Twain Lake

by John L. Davis IV

On the Water

Mark Twain Lake is both an angler’s paradise and a boater’s dream. With over 18,000 acres of water, there’s no shortage of fishing spots, and more than enough room to enjoy days of boating fun.
For the boater, there are 19 boat-ramps surrounding the lake, 6 of which are located at the various recreation areas, making it easy to get your boat in the water. Don’t forget that those 6 areas require a day use fee of just $3.00. Those looking for expanded boating services, can find what they need at either of the lake’s two marinas.
Blackjack Marina is just off route J, near the Ray Behrens Recreation area. This marina offers rentals of jon-boats and pontoon boats, as well as daily or annual slip rentals. Blackjack also has a convenience store and restaurant that is open seven days a week, making it a great place to begin your day on the water.
Indian Creek Marina is nestled into a quite cove near the Indian Creek Recreation Area, and is a full-service marina, offering boat and slip rentals, as well as inflatable tubes and water ski rentals. They have a restaurant and supply store on location. They are also equipped to service Mercury and MerCruisers as well.
You’ve got your boat in the water (or your just ready to pick your spot somewhere along the 285 miles of shoreline), now it’s time to bait your hook, and cast a line or two.
The lake is home to various species of fish, but the three most fished for are Largemouth Bass, Crappie and Catfish.
When finding that spot perfect to fish, fisherman can choose from one of 9 ponds, including a 3 acre ADA accessible pond located in the Frank Russell Recreation area. The US Army Corp of Engineers recommends bank fishing from one of the 6 following locations: Bluffview Recreation Area, Hunter/Fisherman 70, Warren G. See North or South Spillway, Duane S. Whelan Recreation area, and Hunter/Fisherman 54.
If you’re looking for a fun weekend of boating, or just a day to cast a line, Mark Twain Lake will meet every need you have.

Recreation at the Lake

While Mark Twain Lake may be the outdoorsman’s dream, it has far more to offer the day-trip enthusiast or extended vacationer than simply boating and fishing.
Campers will find 3 Army Corps of Engineer campsites, and several private camps, ranging from primitive hike-in camping to full service campsites, with sewer, water and electricity hook-ups available. Camping fees vary in the area, but there is something available for every level of camper.
Swimmers and sun-bathers can relax at one of the three beautiful beaches, John F. Spalding Beach, Indian Creek Beach and Mark Twain State Park Beach. Spalding and Mark Twain State Park beaches is open to the public, while Indian Creek serves registered Indian Creek campers. With no life-guards on duty, swimming is your own risk, so always keep water safety in mind.
Two multipurpose trails, Lick Creek and Joanna Trails, offer over 30 miles of trail around the lake for use by hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, bird watchers, and hunters. Some of the most beautiful views of the lake can be found along the trails, and primitive campsites can be had along them with permit.
Mark Twain Lake has over 45,000 acres available to hunters, with many animal species available including, dove, quail, rabbit, squirrel, deer, wild turkey, and various species of waterfowl. Several hunter/fisherman lots allow convenient access to all the different habitats around the lake. Much of the area around the lake is available to hunters, with the exception of developed recreation areas, waterfowl refuge during waterfowl season, and areas posted with a government “No Hunting” sign.
For the gun enthusiast there is the David C. Berti Shooting Range located within the South Spillway Recreation area, and featuring 100, 50 and 25 yard ranges. The range is open to the public. A $2 per day or $25 Annual permit is required per shooter.
Geocaching, a treasure-hunting game requiring the use of GPS has gained in popularity in recent years, and hundreds of Geocaches can be found all around Mark Twain Lake. To find out more about Geocaching, you can visit the M. W. Boudreaux Visitors Center for further information on this popular pastime.
Off the lake, you can find plenty to do. Visit Mark Twain’s birthplace in Florida, Mo, or enjoy music and fun at the Cannon Dam Opry in Perry, get wet and wild at Splash Landing, or enjoy a trip back through history at the Union Covered Bridge Historic site in Paris, Mo.
On Mark Twain Lake a person can feel as if they’ve gone into the deepest wilderness, while still only being a few minutes’ drive from numerous attractions and historic places.
Visit Mark Twain Lake today and enjoy exploring this beautiful area in the heart of the mid-west.

M. W. Boudreaux Memorial Visitor Center

Mark Twain lake has a rich and intriguing history, dating back long before its inception to the various ideas for controlling the Salt River flooding that eventually lead to the creation of Clarence Cannon Dam and the lake.
The damn and the lake provide Northeast Missouri with several benefits; hydropower, Flood control, Water supply, fish and wild-life conservation, and of course recreation. Mark Twain Lake offers day-trippers and vacationers numerous opportunities to get away while still having access to basic amenities.
There is no better place to start a day or a week at the lake than the M. W. Boudreaux Memorial Visitor Center and Northeast Missouri Vietnam Memorial.
The new Visitor Center was opened October 2nd, 2010, and is considered to be equivalent to the silver designation for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Some of the LEED features include ground-source heat, low flow water works, and energy efficient windows and building materials.
Inside, visitors can find many exhibits that examine the benefits of Clarence Cannon Dam and Mark Twain Lake, such as flood risk management, hydropower electricity, and environmental stewardship to name just a few.
Hands-on displays help visitors better understand the cultural, natural, and environmental aspects of the area, as well as basic boating and water safety tips.
The center also has a large community room that can be reserved for events, with access to a large viewing deck offering amazing views of the lake and the dam.
Outside, on the grounds surrounding the center, you can visit the Vietnam Memorial, or take a walk on the one-quarter mile long ADA Eagle Bluff Trail. The trail wanders through an oak hickory forest, with two overlooks that give stunning views of the lake.
You can find the M. W. Boudreaux Memorial Visitor Center on Route J, just south of Clarence Cannon Dam.