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Echo Bluff State Park

Echo Bluff looms over Sinking Creek in the newly constructed Echo Bluff State Park south of Salem, Mo., on Friday, July 22, 2016. The land for the new state park was formerly known as Camp Zoe. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri state parks administrators announced Friday that the agency is bumping up the on-season rate of an electric campsite.

Beginning May 1, the overnight price of an electric campsite will increase by $2, bringing the average rate of an electric campsite to $23 per night, and the average rate for a premium electric site to $25 per night, according to a rate schedule posted on Missouri State Parks' website.

The reason for the increase: the agency said it needs more money to upgrade its electric sites, and more money to fix those in disrepair.

“The rate increase will help fund various electrification projects, including upgrading electrical service to 50 amp and repairing and replacing electrical systems,” Ben Ellis, director of state parks, said in a statement. “We want to address the power issues that have resulted in closure of some campsites and better meet our customers’ needs.” 

According to the news release, the rate increase is the first in five years. Off-season rates (typically between November and March) will stay the same, and the price of a basic campsite will not increase, according to the release.

Figures for 2017 showed another record-breaking year for visits to Missouri state parks, despite historic spring flooding in some areas of the state last year.

Overall attendance was up 2.66 percent to 21.8 million, the highest number of visits dating to at least 2001. There was also an 8 percent increase in camping units rented out and a 9 percent increase in lodging rentals, according to the state.

After public backlash, the department earlier this year shelved the possibility that it would sell any of four mothballed state parks purchased under former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.

10 hikes worth a day trip from St. Louis

Summer weekends are the perfect time for a day trip. They’re also a great excuse to go hiking. So what’s better than a day trip where you can fit in a great hike?

Lucky you. Missouri and Southern Illinois have as much to offer as any state in the U.S. Here are some hiking destinations that are worth a trip for a de-stressing nature hike or some challenging walks.

And there’s the option of an overnight stay and some extras, such as a homey restaurant or scenic drive. In Missouri or Illinois, the extras can range from a historic French-style village to a boulevard full of wine shops and German settler history, to perusing the boyhood home of Mark Twain. This list consists of state and federal public facilities, no for-profit resorts.

A note: Call ahead on visits. The parks and conservation areas had their share of high water this spring, which can mean closed and washed-out trails.

Click the headlines on the map to see details on each location.

Look for a hike closer to home, we have more than 100 suggestions at stltoday.com/hike

Jack Suntrup covers state government and politics for the Post-Dispatch.