Recreation & Fitness

The Stoddard County area provides adequate recreational opportunities with lakes, fishing, hunting, hiking, swimming pools, parks, tennis courts, pickleball courts, golf courses and country clubs.

Dexter Bowl – 12 lanes, automatic scoring, pro-shop, snack bar/lounge, full leagues, parties and special events. 573-624-2695.

City Parks

Dexter Park and Recreation Department oversees several parks which include West City Park, East City Park, Sugar Plum Park, Boon Park, Bell Park and 2 small areas downtown. The department also manages and maintains the Dexter Fishing Lake, Dexter Sports Complex, and the Dexter Aquatic Facility.
The Dexter Park and Recreation Department is a member of the Missouri Park and Recreation Association (MPRA) and is also a member of the National Recreation Park Association (NRPA). The park department is overseen by a seven member advisory board. A listing of organized recreational programs, activities, and events as well as pictures and amenities of the parks can be found on the department’s website


Wappapello Lake is truly a fisherman’s paradise, whether you enjoy fishing hard and fast or just lying back with your cane pole. The lake is stocked with some of the most sought-after game fish, such as largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, and flathead catfish. There are also many popular species of non-game fish in the reservoir. Easy access points are provided at many places along the shore. There are numerous boat ramps as well as innumerable places to fish from the bank. Private businesses in the surrounding area offer supplies of fishing tackle and bait. Fishing licenses are required in Missouri. State laws should be checked for complete information. Licenses may be purchased at County Clerk’s offices, lake concessionaires and many commercial establishments.


Hidden Trails Country Club is a beautiful 18-hole USGA golf course for youth and adults. Non-members may play for a fee and golf cart rental is available. The Club is closed on Mondays and is open from March to October. Call Hidden Trails for more information at 573-624-3638.


The 44,000 plus acres of land and water that make up Wappapello Lake host a variety of upland game species. The wooded hills serve as home to the white-tailed deer, squirrel and turkey, while the many fields and pastures provide good habitat for doves, quail and rabbit.
The lake also hosts numerous populations of ducks and geese during the fall and winter months. Management of this vast resource is aimed toward providing good habitat for many species. Hunting licenses are required in Missouri. Special permits are required for certain game such as deer, turkey and waterfowl. For more information about hunting at Lake Wappapello contact the Wappapello Lake Project Office at 573-222-8562.

For more information on duck hunting visit MO Ducks or “In Your Face Outfitters”

Lake Wappapello

If you enjoy the outdoors, Lake Wappapello offers something for everyone. Activities at the lake include fishing, hunting, swimming, camping, picnicing and more.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

Located in western Stoddard County. Formed over 18,000 years ago, this 21,676-acre refuge preserves a remnant of the swampland that once covered most of the Bootheel of Missouri. Today, the refuge provides resting, nesting, and feeding habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Visitors may enjoy hunting and fishing, wildlife observation, hiking, a visitor’s center, and an auto tour route.

Otter Slough

Stoddard County has many sites for recreation that are only a short drive from Dexter. Otter Slough Conservation Area is located southwest of Dexter on Highway ZZ. This area consists of 4,866 acres managed primarily for species associated with wetlands. Migratory waterfowl, herons, egrets and many kinds of shorebirds are found here. Also seen at Otter Slough are mink, otter and other water-loving animals. Open marsh areas provide natural seeds, tubers and invertebrates, all important waterfowl foods.

Vacation Activities

Camping enthusiasts will find a variety of camping facilities at Lake Wappapello. Facilities available in each campground vary from the most fully equipped to the more isolated, less developed, primitive camping areas. Camping is permitted in designated areas only.
Picnicing facilities are available around the lake for just about any size picnic you can imagine. Group shelters are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, or they may be reserved by contacting the Wappapello Lake Management Office.

Wappapello Lake is host to a variety of recreational boating opportunities. Water skiers and sail boaters can be seen on the lake as you drive across Wappapello Dam. The lake’s 180 miles of picturesque shoreline attracts boats of all sizes.

Swimming has long been one of the more popular activities at Wappapello Lake. Three sand beaches provide an excellent place for the entire family to spend an afternoon of swimming.

For more information on the variety of activities to be found at Lake Wappapello, contact the Wappapello Lake Project Office at HC2, Box 2349, Wappapello, MO 63966-9603 or call 573-222-8562.