Searching online for hotels, motels, or lodging near the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri was not easy as I thought. It was Wednesday evening when I had an impulse to take a road trip to Ozark National Scenic Riverways on Thanksgiving weekend. I needed a place to stay on my first night of the trip and, unluckily, finding a lodge online took much of the 11th-hour planning. First, the national park covers a vast area (says Google map) and there was no hotel or motel located close to the park (says Google again), or so I thought. Second, not all hotels and motels around the riverways have websites. Yes, in this age when people book reservations online, I wonder why hotels would not spend some dollars to build a business website. Third, whenever you found one location with a website, there was no way you can pay to reserve a room. There was no payment system. You have to call them to reserve your place. That alone is a hassle and a risk at the same time, as they have to ask for your card number and personal info.
One of the places that may come out on searches is the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins, located very near to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Located in Van Buren, Big Spring Lodge and Cabins is only 3 hours from St. Louis, Memphis, and Springfield. The pictures from its website are enticing and the cabin rooms are fairly decent in size. The problem with this location is, you need to send an email to book. WTH! And it uses the spammy hotmail! If you are on a rush, booking a room online at the Big Spring Lodge is not advisable.
After some unsuccessful searches, I ended booking at the Comfort Inn in Willow Springs. It is an hour an a half drive away from the riverways. It was not the one I wanted, but I think it was the best option. I found one hotel about an hour away, but with a room price twice as much. After 11 hours of driving from South Dakota, I finally reached Comfort Inn around 12 midnight on Thanksgiving day.
The inn had just been recently opened. So the rooms are basically new. I was happy that there was an attendant at the front desk ready to assign me to a room. Located in a place that seems to be quite far from the busy streets, most of the dwellers of the inn are tourists and passers-by, those crossing the State on long travels.
I was given a room at the first floor. Look.
Everything shouts NEW – new painting, new white bedsheets, new toilet fixtures, etc.
There was an exercise room with a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, and one big, all-around fitness machine. Also, I was not expecting a nice breakfast the following day. In my experience, inns do not usually offer a complete set of breakfast — just the usual coffee and toast. Comfort Inn breakfast include biscuits, breads, eggs, meat, sausages, yogurt, fresh fruit, cereals and a variety of cold and hot drinks.
Although a microwave is not always a part of a room amenity, Comfort Inn has one in every room. The free internet was indeed high-speed, as advertised. The Cable/Satellite TV worked perfectly.
While driving to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways from the hotel, I noticed that there are more motels and inns much closer to the park that I did not find online. I won’t suggest taking a chance of traveling to the Riverways without reserving your accommodation first, especially during travel season. But for non-peak season/s, I think it will be fine to get a room right there at the hotel, the one that you find closest to the destination.
Super 8 motel in Springfield, MO, for instance, is very close to the Big Spring attraction at the southern Ozark Mountains. Had I known this location, I would have reserved my room in there.
If you plan to go to the Ozark Mountains on a summer, I suggest you bring tents with you and camp. There are plenty of camping grounds to choose from around the area with very cheap nightly fees. This, of course, lessens the burden of finding hotels or motels.