Beautiful park to camp. Very spacious and lots of trees for shade. A perfect spot to come and have some relaxing time away from the city. Park has trails that lead to the river. My site number was 69. I definitely will return to this park again.
As the saying goes, you can’t put your foot in the same river twice. It’s always changing. I discovered that this is so true about Lowden State Park.
My first trip here was on my own… well, my dog joined me. We spent some quiet time hiking and relaxing earlier in the year. This time is different. This time camping was a communal event that left me feeling like I was at a different place.
Campground review: Driving in to Lowden State Park is pretty straightforward. You go to Oregon, Illinois, and then head north a couple miles. The entrance involves driving past half of the campground and discovering that the camp host is waiting to sign you in. She found our reservation and directed us to a spot right around the corner. A crowd of waves greeted us as we pulled our teardrop camper past a small gathering of folk. These were fellow teardrop campers, Tearjerkers - the Land of Lincoln subgroup. We are spending the weekend here to share some time and stories with each other. Little People (or Little Campers) Unite!
The camp host already had my name clothes pinned to the post our site. We were nestled between a beautiful homemade teardrop camper and a super large camper that dwarfed both of ours together. This site is conveniently placed near the shower house (I didn’t even visit the showers or flushing toilets on our last trip). Water and garbage are just a few steps away. Our solar was enough but there is an electric hook up right at the end of the pull-in. A few minutes of setting up and I walked over to join in the Tearjerker dinner of finger food - I must admit that the jalapeño hummus I brought was very good. There was more than enough room at our president’s campsite for our growing group. After everyone arrived, we filled up over 20 campsites (look at the pictures to see a variety of campers and vehicles). A roaring campfire lit up the night with stories, laughter and connection. Lowden State Park asks you to notify them of larger groups. Our group had campsites all centered around this site. This location became our evening, breakfast and dinner site for the weekend. 40+ people gathered together for a breakfast of scrambled eggs and donuts. Our dinner was a potluck of vegetarian side dishes and barbecued chicken or roast beef. I was impressed by the way the resources and space at Lowden accommodated our large group.
The Tearjerkers are a group of people who all own teardrop campers. They range from store bought to homemade (kits or your own design). The group is friendly. I loved the way everybody walked around to see each other's teardrops. We shared ideas for the next add-on and talked about how we built different features. Each state has their own sub-group which organizes events. You can stay within your own state or stop at a gathering as you pass through other areas.
My dog and I went out hiking early in the morning. To our joy, we found Black Hawk’s statue was uncovered. They are renovating it to preserve it for the future. We could still see cracks and chips but the uncovered Black Hawk cut a regal image looking out over the Rock River. Even with the recent rain, the damp trails were well taken care of and gave my dog an outlet for her energy.
A group of families filled in an area on the other side of the campground. The children raced each other around their loop and then sped over to the playground. Lowden is large enough to accommodate a few groups of people along with all the individual campers.
I was left with such a pleasant experience of Lowden. Camping with a friendly group certainly made this campground a more enriching experience.
Nature’s Kettle Coffee (product review): As a Dyrt Ranger, I sometimes am gifted products to try out and review. This trip I came supplied with some coffee. Normally I use a pour over system where the grounds sit in a cone on top of my cup and I slowly pour the hot water in. With an unstable cone atop my cup, I will admit to having knocked over the coffee in the process of pouring the water in. I was excited to see what the Kettle System would be like.
Nature’s Kettle comes in a reusable kettle to contain the water, grounds and coffee. While 2 cups of water was heating on my Jetboil, I looked the system over. It is a very straightforward set up. The top opens up like a ziplock bag. Coffee grounds are pre-measured in an individual cloth bag. I loved this feature! The side of me that strives for easy cleanup solutions was happy that I didn’t have to worry about loose grounds. The bag of grounds goes in the top of the kettle. Super simple. The water was ready so I slowly poured it in. The coffee steeped for a minute while I heated up the other 2 cups of water. When all 4 cups were poured in the bottom part of the kettle was full. I poured it all into a 32 ounce cup and then poured it over the grounds and into the kettle a second time. This gave me a cup of coffee that was full of flavor and depth - not quite up to french press coffee but so much better than instant. Check out the video to see me making the coffee. It really is a simple and clever process.
I was able to make about 32 ounces of coffee in the double pour through method. This gave me plenty of coffee for breakfast and to have on reserve through the rest of the day. I poured it out of the kettle to put in an insulated cup. This kept the coffee warm and let me clean out the kettle. Cleaning up was a breeze thanks to the contained grounds. Just rinse out the kettle and it’s ready to go for tomorrow.
Nature’s Kettle Coffee hit on a good system. Pouring the coffee through a second time produces a cup of coffee that makes your morning perk right up.
Nature's Kettle Coffee info: Click Here
Tearjerkers (Teardrop Camper Group) info: Click Here
Lowden State Park info: Click Here
This beautiful state park is small but still has room for 3 circles of camp sites. There is a connection to Chief Black Hawk. The Chief was captured and implored to his captors that they take care of this land. There is a memorial statue of Chief Black Hawk but it was covered up for repairs.
The campground was filled with plenty of people in the first camping loop. Most were larger rv's. I found spot 70 that was away from most of the others. We heard no main road noise but did hear people passing us by. Even though someone camped right across from me, we really didn't see each other. There were a group of 4 or so families and their children down at the end of the road. The hiking trail goes right behind this site so we saw a bit of foot traffic. It's also by the road to the statue but trees and brush are between us so they didn't bother us at all.
The camp host was friendly and quickly set us up in a site. There are only outhouses in this loop but you can drive to the other loop for the shower house. The outhouses were clean and well kept. A small camp store was open and even had a hotdog vendor there one day.
My dog and I spent time on the 4 miles of trails. May was the perfect time because wildflowers were blooming all over. Mayflower, geranium, and others were strutting their beauty. The steps to the river were steep and plentiful. A few people used them to exercise. Once down at the river, follow it along the outskirts of the state park and you find yourself walking in through the walk-in sites. Those looked beautiful and well separated.
This was a perfect weekend getaway location.
Blackhawk statue covered for repair. Hike along river nice. Site clean. Great bike ride in town of Oregon 7 mikes and well marked. Lots of traffic in campground during the day.
Camped here early October 2016, in a tent in the non-electric sites in Shady Rest loop. Won't be back.
Pros: Clean grounds, pretty clean bathhouse, easy access to town. All sites pretty shaded. Statue and river walk is interesting/pretty. Friendly/ quiet RVers.
Cons: River Road is LOUD, with frequent high-speed rural traffic. Lots of trucks. The non-electric sites are on a significant slope. No privacy whatsoever between sites. Felt like a big suburban backyard with no real separation between the park and nearby residential area.
Tips: If tent camping, select Sun Valley loop for flat sites. The White Oak area has big sites with plenty of privacy. There was a weird fetid smell over there though.