Description - **Note: This information was provided by www.mostateparks.com.
The state of Missouri and its principal river were both named after a tribe of Native Americans, known by the French explorers as the “Oumessourit” or Missouri Indians, that once lived in the area of Van Meter State Park. Today, the park provides outdoor recreational opportunities and interprets the area landscape and the Native Americans who found it to be bountiful.
For many centuries, Native American hunters traversed the nearby marshes and prairies and the deep ravines and narrow ridges, locally known as the Pinnacles. In 1673, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet composed a map that located a Missouri Indian village at the Great Bend of the Missouri River.
Van Meter State Park features remnants of this early village site. A hand-dug earthwork, known as the Old Fort, and several burial mounds lie within park boundaries. The area’s Native American history is also interpreted inside the park’s visitor center through exhibits and a large mural depicting the life of the Missouri Indians.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the park features hiking trails, an 18-acre lake for fishing, a campground and the Oumessourit Natural Area, which consists of a fresh-water marsh, fens and bottomland and upland forests. Picnic sites and two picnic shelters are nestled under lofty trees.
- Van Meter State Park offers basic and electric campsites, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Services include modern restrooms, showers and water. The showerhouse is closed Oct. 15 through April 30. Cutting and collecting firewood is not allowed in the park. Firewood is available for sale. Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Under lofty trees sit picnic sites, a playground and two picnic shelters, which can be reserved, making the park a great place for large gatherings of family and friends. For information on reserving a picnic shelter ($30 per day), please call (660) 886-7537.
Recreation - The gate at the base of the lake road closes at sunset. Swimming in the lake is prohibited. State fishing regulations apply and a state fishing permit is required. See bulletin board for daily creel limits. Use canoes or small boats with paddles, oars or electric trolling motors only. Boat rentals are not available.
Van Meter State Park offers many recreational opportunities and historical interests. While enjoying the pleasing scenery and relaxed setting, visitors can get a closer look by taking a hike on one of six trails.
This .6-mile trail follows along the west shore of Lake Wooldridge.
Loess Hills Trail
As this two-mile trail circles the lake, it passes through prairielike areas and dunelike loess soil of the Pinnacles.
Beginning in the day-use area, this 1.4-mile trail leads to Native American sites known as the Old Fort and Mound Field. It also winds up the Pinnacles and through the forested part of Oumessourit Natural Area.
This .25-mile trail takes visitors to the Vanmeter (historical spelling) family cemetery, which sits atop a hill alongside ancient Indian burial mounds.
Oumessourit Wetland Boardwalk Trail
This .75-mile trail allows visitors to experience the wetland and bottomland forested areas of the Oumessourit Natural Area.
Missouri River Overlook
This short trail (.16-mile) follows the ridge of a pinnacle and ends with a vista of the Missouri River bottoms, the river’s forested edge, crop fields and oxbow lakes.
Climate - Missouri experiences four distinct seasons with an average yearly temperature of 54 degrees F. Summer temperatures reach 90 degrees F often and are plagued with high humidity levels. Nighttime lows during the summer dip slightly near 70 degrees. September brings cooler fall weather with less humidity. By October nights begin to cool significantly and the fall foliage changes to brilliant hues of orange, red and yellow. Winter months bring an average of 24 inches of snow and normal temperatures average between 20 and 45 degrees F. Spring is characterized by wet weather with temperatures reaching between 32 and 60 degrees F.
Route 1, Box 47
Miami, MO 65344