Wow-Zingo Mozingo

On a normal journey up to and through Northwest Missouri you might stop at St. Joseph for a meal and a little sightseeing, hit an antique mall, and then likely continue north to other destinations far away. And in a 70-mph blink-of-the-eye, you’d miss it. Maryville, Missouri. A community. A lifestyle. A chance to relax and slow down. Home of Northwest Missouri State University. And the location of Mozingo Lake Recreation Park 

As a rule, I don’t like surprises but on occasion they can be pleasant, and such was the case when an early April gathering brought me and several other outdoors loving individuals to the 3,000-acre Mozingo Lake Recreation Park. 

Arriving a day early with hopes of exploratory fishing, the weather dictated differently. An April chill and wind slowed us down, so we hit the pause button, relaxed, and took in the surroundings.

We checked-in to our room at the Cobblestone Inn and Suites. Roomy, immaculate, and comfortable, we dropped our gear and headed to the spacious lobby for cup of coffee, and a place for conversation.

As we talked, a young woman tending the desk moved quietly through the lobby keeping things tidy. Refreshed the water, lemonade, and coffee. Cleaned tables and doors. When we left to go to the onsite restaurant, she was busy, barely out of view, folding sheets in a room behind the front desk.

“Is there anything that you don’t do?” I asked. Personable, friendly, and clearly a hard worker, we learned she would soon be on to bigger things, attending a major university to study animal welfare. Nice to make a connection and we wished her well. 

A short walk to the events center, we took the elevator downstairs to William Coy’s Farm-to-Table Restaurant. A large open room, we took a window seat with nice view across part of the lake and golf course. 

The menu was diverse and interesting. After a long drive we were hungry but not wanting a major meal. We both ordered the pastrami sandwich on marbled rye with fries. I added French onion soup. The server was pleasant and food arrived quickly, hot and fresh. As we ate, we recalled similar farm-to-table restaurants we had visited in the past and how favorably this one compared to those experiences.

The chilly weather leaked into the next day, but gave us an opportunity to explore the rest of the park. What we found was an impressive array of facilities and opportunities for enjoying the outdoors during any time of year.

A productive fishery with the opportunity to catch some really nice bass, the lake also offers decent walleye fishing, and crappie are sure to be found in the woody coves. The eastern shore has two nice boat ramps and docks for launching. Shoreline fishing for the kids and family is also very doable.

Interspersed we found nice facilities for RV and tent camping, eight deluxe family cabins, and five shelters for picnicking. There is also a site for group camping and a multipurpose building. Hikers and bikers will find several nicely maintained trails. And if you want to mix up your experience a bit, there’s an 18-hole and 9-hole golf course on site. Additional private RV facilities are in development nearby, and an expansion of the inn is also planned in the not to distant future.

On our tour of the area, a rooster pheasant walking through the park reminded us North Missouri can offer some spectacular hunting opportunities. The northern and western shore is mostly undeveloped offering deer, waterfowl, turkey, pheasant, and other small game such as rabbits and squirrels. Only archery and shotguns are allowed.

For the general nature lover, birding opportunities are tremendous. On my early morning walk I saw a variety of waterbird – ducks, geese, pelicans, cormorants, and a pair of loons. Upland areas are a mix of woods and prairie and are sure to yield some interesting migratory finds during the spring and fall. And of course, Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge is only 40 minutes away.

During our three-night stay we had an opportunity to meet the City Manager, Mayor, and a local businessman. Most evident was the tremendous pride they all have in the park and their community, and judging by use and occupancy rates, local folks share in the pride. 

The conundrum for 2022 may be a convergence – easing COVID concerns, an itch to travel, and high gas prices. Staycations will be in vogue again. Maryville’s Mozingo Lake Recreation Park is an ideal destination for an extended stay. The inn, conference venue, restaurant, golf course, campsites, fishing, hunting, hiking, RV sites, remote controlled airfield, equestrian RV campsite, and more give many on-site opportunities. Or use it as a base-camp and explore Northwest Missouri. You won’t be disappointed!

by Dan Zekor

Driving directions: Mozingo Lake is three miles east of Maryville off Highway 136, take Liberty Road north off Highway 136 travel past the golf course entrance then take 245th Street west of the park entrance at Park/Lake access.