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.
What a lovely campground and state park. It’s 16 minutes off I70 and feels so remote and peaceful- no highway traffic noise. We pulled in late at night on a Monday in October after many hours in the road and were thrilled at how peaceful and clean it was. We stayed at campsite 17 right on the lake in the loop with electric and water hookups, picnic table, fire pit(but no firewood available- gotta buy it at a local fish and tackle store outside the park) No need for leveling blocks, easy to settle in and cook dinner. In the morning we hiked some of the trails and showered in the shower house. Beautiful views of the lake from the trails. We could have stayed another night and will return on another cross-country trip. Lovely!
Wilson State Park is truly a hidden gem. It is surrounded by miles of rolling farmland, so it is like an oasis when you see this beautiful lake as you enter the park. We stayed in Foxtail Loop in Site 61. It couldn't have been more perfect. We pulled-in at sunset and discovered that our site had a completely unobstructed view of the sunset over the lake. We stayed for two nights and couldn't have been happier with it. There are several hiking trails throughout the park to explore. We were surprised by the warm weather when we got there in early October 2020, it was 94 degrees! That said, we would absolutely go back and definitely recommend it.
Ranger Review: Camp Zero 10 liter cooler at Wilson Lake in Kansas Campground review-driving up to Wilson Lake you would never know you were in the middle of Kansas. There are rolling hills surrounding the lake. There is not clearly marked signs which made the area kind of confusing for us. There are so many loops with camping and 2 other parks in this same area. The lake itself is very large and lengthy. It’s beautiful-perfect for boating, fishing, or kayaking. There are not a lot of trees so the area can get pretty windy. Lots of sites face the water. Prices vary from 10-24 per night. There are also park permits and service fee you must pay. Sites range from primitive to full hook ups. Most have fire rings and picnic tables. There are plenty of trails for hiking and biking and swim beaches. The bathrooms are clean and there are showers,marinas,dump stations. Check in and out is at 2 pm. Make sure to check out the town of Lucas for all the fun art. Product Review: As a Ranger for the DRYT, I get products to test from time to time and I tested the 10 liter Camp Zero at Wilson Lake. What I love about the Camp Zero cooler is: 1: The light aluminum handle with gripping pad. Makes it easier to carry without losing grip 2: The rubber feet on the bottom makes it so it doesn’t slide around in the car or boat and get scratched or scratch up the car. 3: the molded cup holders on the top of the cooler that turns it into a much need table on the beach 4: The heavy duty rubber latches to keep the cooler latched. They are bear resistant 5: The awesome colors you can get them in I chose the bright green 10 liter cooler. The green is so fun and cheery and I know that I’ll be able to spot it where ever it is. This cooler really keeps the drinks cooler for extended periods of time. It is so heavy duty, and sturdy. The cooler is a little heavy once you put ice and drinks in it so I’ll just make my husband carry it. I’m excited to take this Camp Zero 10 liter cooler with me on all our adventures
Stunning views in every direction. A true diamond in the rough tucked just 8 miles from I-70 near Sylvan Grove, KS. This is a great place to enjoy the breeze as it blows across the rolling plains of eastern Kansas.
Wilson State Park has multiple camping loops with a variety of hookup options from primitive sites overlooking Wilson reservoir to full hookups with 20/30/50 amp power, water and sewer for RVs. Bring your camera, some comfortable shoes and sunscreen and enjoy plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking and fishing.
We really enjoyed our time here. We had only one neighbor in our area of the park and were right on the water. The lake was busy during the day and quieted down in the evening. Bathrooms need a refresh but I can only imagine how much use they get each year. Overall we highly recommend this place. Before entering the park grab some firewood and last minute supplies from the local bait shop, 2nd right after getting off the main road.
Wonderful spot close to sandy beaches, great for little kids. Good clear water at 3 feet deep. Sparse T-Mobile cell service.
88 great spot
Lots of campsites for tents and for RVs! We like to fish and kayak - sometimes fishing from the kayaks, and we always have good luck at Wilson. We try to get a campsite with water access so we can easily get the kayaks in and out if the water. There are so many sites near the water at Wilson, so finding such a site is no problem at all! Kayaking over to the rocky cliffs is beautiful! Highly recommended! We tend to camp on the marina side of the lake, but the other side has a playground and swim beach - possibly more family friendly. Facilities are nice, at least the ones we’ve used. No complaints there!!
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.