Bass’ River Resort
June 7, 2021
Written By Adam Buckallew
Nestled along the crystal-clear waters of Courtois Creek, Bass’ River Resort in Steeleville, Mo., offers pristine conditions for campers, canoers, floaters and anglers to enjoy the outdoors. The resort, owned and operated by the Bass family, has hosted guests seeking to explore scenic Ozark waterways such as the Courtois (pronounced “code-way” by locals), Huzzah Creek and Meramec River since 1967.
The resort annually welcomes thousands of visitors who take advantage of the 60 cabins, 200 RV hook-ups and 400 camping sites. In 2020, Bass’ River Resort had its busiest season yet when a record number of guests sought out a break from the seclusion of the coronavirus pandemic. While the resort scaled back some of its services, like weekend buffet breakfasts, during the worst of the pandemic, that didn’t dampen interest.
“Camping and floating accommodations were in high demand,” says Julie Bass, who manages the resort with her son, Brendan. “We also had the highest number of cancellations that we’ve ever had in a season. It forced us to rewrite our refund and cancellation policies.”
The Basses counted on visitors to stay home if they were sick. Guests who were forced to cancel their trips were offered rainchecks to reschedule if necessary.
For more than 20 years, Bass’ River Resort was managed jointly by Stephan and Julie Bass. Their eldest son, Brendan, 24, took on more responsibility for the resort’s operations in 2018 after Stephan died of colon cancer.
Julie handles many of the administrative responsibilities of the resort. She oversees the finances, manages the full-time staff and helps answer the phones. Brendan’s duties include helping to manage the part-time summer staff, groundskeeping, ensuring buses and boats are where they are needed for guests, and running the resort’s radio communications.
During the resort’s peak season, which runs from May 1 to Sept. 30, there are typically 20 staff members on weekdays and up to 100 on the weekends. The extra help is needed to shuttle floaters and canoers to and from river access points; help with check-ins and check-outs; provide housekeeping; and maintain security.
When Brendan isn’t busy wrangling bus drivers and boat haulers, he enjoys raising 200 head of Angus cattle. Some of Brendan’s herd can be seen grazing along low-lying pastures that border Courtois Creek.
Julie’s youngest son, Trent, 20, is currently studying business at Ozark Technical College in Springfield, Mo.
The Bass family counts on diesel fuel and gas from MFA Oil to power its buses, trucks, mowers and farm equipment while propane from the co-op heats the resort’s cabins and keeps the campground showers warm.
Courtois Creek and its sister stream, Huzzah Creek, are both spring-fed gems known for their natural beauty. The nearby Meramec is not as clear, but it’s also wider and a little deeper. Each stream has its own unique characteristics that draw visitors to their waters.
Brendan appreciates the twists and turns of the Courtois, especially the 6-mile trip from Berryman to Blunt’s Slab, which adds a bit of challenge to kayaking trips. That same stretch is also Julie’s favorite and the resort’s most popular float. The 13-mile trip along the Courtois that ends at the Bass family’s resort is the second-most requested trip.
The Courtois is hailed by anglers as a small-mouth bass fishing destination. Sunfish, large-mouth bass, goggle-eye, hogsuckers and yellow suckers can also be found in the creek. Many fisherman enjoy fishing the stream year-round.
While Steelville is known as the Floating Capital of Missouri, activities at Bass’ River Resort are not confined to the local creeks and rivers. Horseback riding along the picturesque Courtois River and through the hills of Mark Twain National Forest offer fantastic views. Hikers can explore the 48-mile Courtois section of the Ozark Trail, which is also popular with mountain bikers. Local cave excursions offer chances to appreciate the subterranean wonders to be found in Onondaga Cave State Park.
Visitors can book a trip to Bass’ River Resort online at bassresort.com or by calling 800-392-3700.