Located right about in the heart of Kansas, approximately 60 miles west of Salina, Wilson Lake is somewhat of an anomaly among the state’s otherwise flat and featureless plains. This 9,000-acre reservoir, created by the damming of the Saline River, is surrounded by scenic cliffs and sculpted outcrops within the region’s low Smoky Hills. These hills consist of Dakota and Kiowa sandstone formations that were deposited during the Cretaceous Period. Boasting three recreation areas (Wilson Lake State Park, Minooka Park, and Lucas Park), as well as an 8,000-acre Wildlife Area, Wilson Lake offers locals and visitors ample opportunities to get outdoors for camping, hiking, biking, fishing, and wildlife watching.
The year-round campgrounds at Wilson State Park feature 240 sites for tent and RV campers in two main areas: Hell Creek and Otoe. Within these areas, campsites are situated around the shores of State Park Cove and Hell Creek Cove, and many have nice views of the lake. RV campers can choose from full- or partial-hookup sites, with back-in or pull-through drives; tent campers have access to primitive sites. Most sites are open and exposed. All are equipped with picnic tables and cooking grills, and have access to water faucets, flush and vault toilets, showers, and cooking shelters. Dump stations are available in both areas. Campsite rates are $10–$24/night, plus vehicle fee; weekly and annual rates are available.
The park provides two boat launches for recreational and fishing watercraft, as well as docks and a fish-cleaning station. Common catches in the lake include striped, spotted and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye, and catfish. Paddlers can launch kayaks, canoes and SUPs from anywhere along the shoreline. A swimming area is located in State Park Cove in the Hell Creek Area. Mountain bikers can enjoy riding on the 25-mile Switchgrass Trail, and the 1-mile, barrier-free Cedar Trail is nice nature path for the mobility impaired. Bird and wildlife watchers should be on the lookout for white-tailed deer, rabbits, quail, turkeys, and a variety of resident and migratory waterfowl, songbirds and raptors.
When traveling to Kansas there are 26 state parks to visit. It might be a bit difficult to decide which you would like to consider for your outing however I would like to encourage you to give Wilson Lake State Park a thought. There are several reasons which you might find appealing however one of the most impressive I have found is the sheer amount of camping you can find featuring a variety of options.
Wilson's Lake State Park has everything from primitive camping to Cabins and everything in between. There are sites designed for RVs both small and large offering everything from standard electric to full connections. With 240 sites on location this can quickly be considered as one of the best camping of this area.
Lake views are accessible from almost every campsite at the Park with up close and personal access in several of the loops. Prices vary from Primitive to Improved sites from $13 to $26.
I found that while some of the loops provided more primitive restroom accommodations others had very nice flush toilets and showers. There is a playground central to the park and several areas which you can launch smaller vessels such as canoes or kayaks and a larger boat ramp.
I checked out the various loops while visiting and found that many of the loops were semi even and provided various levels of shade to help you even on the hottest of days. When I visited there had been a lot of recent rains which elevated the lake levels and lessened the beach access dramatically however typically there is a very nice beach area near two of the camping loops.
The outdoor space of the park has been a point of focus and the creation of a large bike trail was constructed to allow people to get out and enjoy the surroundings. Many additionally, hike this path to see a bit more of the nature of the area which include deer, rabbits and foxes.
I really enjoyed my visit to the park. Upon meeting the camp host I learned that the booking policy for the campground is very flexible and they do encourage you to make sure you try to book in advance during peak traffic season.
- Try to book in advance of 2 months for a cabin. These spaces are very limited and often from June to September they are booked all weekends.
- Bring your fishing pole. There is a great access point for those wanting to fish from the shore before you get to the park entrance and another just after entering.
Site was very sparse, no shade unless you brought it with you. Cabins right next to our site. Bathroom wasn’t close- quite a hike away. We drove due to handicap member. Shower house was even further away in the opposite direction, which meant another drive. Both facilities were not only extremely dirty but terribly kept. Rusty and no bench or hooks to place your clothes on while showering. If you are going to be engaged in water activities you will have a good time though.
The trails at this campground are super fun for mountain biking! Quick and flowy! Not really set campsites, more dispersed camping.
Perfect for taking your bike and going on a ride in the mornings
Great stay. The lake is very clear and beautiful. We saw a decent amount of fish jumping at night.
Not a lot of shady spots but there are some.
Showers and restrooms available but quite a ways away from the sites. We had to take the car to get there from our site or it was a bit of a walk. Otherwise all good. 4/5 for the distance to facilities.
Great spot. There are many tent and even RV spots that are right near the water. Some parking spots require a Kansas state park passport but we were able to buy one at the park office. The water was calm enough in the morning and evenings to kayak and explore the coves. mid day when the water started getting a bit rougher we swapped the kayaks for bikes and explored the trails. the park offers several dirt trails and a few paved paths perfect for all levels of riders! To top it off the sunsets were amazing every night. only rated 4/5 because the bathrooms/showers weren’t the best.
Always good at this park. The state park staff do an excellent job even with the budget restraints of the state government.
It was in the high 90s but the breeze from the lake kept us comfortable. Lots of tent spots, but many RVs as well. There was plenty of room between camping areas for peace and quite, beautiful sunsets! Showers, bathrooms, water, and electricity available.
On a trip to Colorado for some hiking and biking, we stopped off here for a night. Campground had nice camp sites and was well maintained and facilities were very clean.
What make the space though we're the miles of incredible bike trails around the lake. Worth going back just for those! Very challenging if you take the tougher routes or there are others for leisurely rides.