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Ranger Review HeadSpin Light System at Two Rivers State Recreation Area

When reviewing this campground it is important that I preface anything with a note about the campground condition.  This entire area has been inundated with flooding off and on since March 2019.  This review is taking these issues into accord and basing the review on the areas that have been repaired in the park since the flooding.

Campground Review:

When entering the park you will notice some areas that still show signs of being impacted by the historic flooding this year.  The road was completely wiped out during the flooding, but due to some intense work the road was replaced to the campground.  

At the park entrance there is a park office to purchase park permits for either day use or for the season. A yearly in-state park permit is $31 and a daily is $6 per day.  You will also notice another building at the entrance that during the active season (April-September) is the concession stand.  They have a decent spread of options to purchase like drinks, firewood, bait, etc., but you are better off price wise bringing your own supplies to save money.

Just past the entrance you will see a row of 10 former Union Pacific Cabooses that in lieu of actual cabins can be rented for a nights stay.  They have restrooms, a deck, beds, etc. , but you do need to bring your own bedding when staying in a caboose.  These can be rented for $75 per night.  One unfortunate part of the caboose rentals is there are no pets allowed when renting.

There are multiple lakes within the campground to use for fishing.  During peak season these lakes are often overly packed-in with people trying to catch something.  Lake number 5 is popular for Trout fishing.  During normal years that aren't heavily impacted by flooding you can also do some river fishing on the Platte River.  Due to the flooding this year though, access to anything by the river is closed due to the area being a mess and some areas undermined by the water that sat for months.

Two Rivers SRA provides tent and RV camping, but again due to the flooding this year a couple of the more popular areas are closed for significant repairs.  One of the busy areas for RV camping and where we stayed was the Lakeside Campground.  With it being off-season it wasn't too busy but there were close to a dozen campers there over the weekend.  RV camping can be done for $25-$35 per night at Two Rivers SRA.  The more expensive "Full Hook-up" is actually only water and power.  There are no sewer hook-ups that I have ever seen for our multiple stays.  Since it is off-season the dump station is closed for your post camping routine.  There is a Love's Travel Stop about 5 miles away where you can dump for $5.  While the primary water is shutoff as well this time of year, there are multiple Iowa hydrants that are still available for filling the holding tanks.

Tent campers can use any of the open spots at any of the campgrounds, but if you are using a spot with power it runs $15 per night.  The normal primitive campground is closed from the flooding, but when open it runs $10 per night.

Two Rivers SRA also offers Horse Camping for those that want to bring their horses out and do some trail riding.  This has been closed all season due to the flooding, but when open there are usually 3-4 groups that bring their horses in for trail riding and camping, so it is pretty popular.

**All off-season camping is $5 off the normal rate with exception of primitive sites.

The campground has multiple vault toilets throughout the campground and a few new full service bathrooms/shower houses, that double as shelters during Tornado season.  These fully concrete facilities have been built in the last couple years and are still in really good shape.

The campground areas that are open have been rehabilitated pretty well since the flooding.  They are fairly clean and maintained, about the only real issues are the presence of more sand from the flooding and some roads that need attention.

Pheasants Forever also has a wildlife preserve within the campground.  The organization maintains the grounds as a habitat and also performs hunts here throughout the year.  When it is not being used for hunting, it is a really nice area to go for a hike and see some wildlife.

Unfortunately due to the flooding a lot of the areas along the banks of the Platte River that are usually used for hiking cannot be accessed.  There is some danger involved with trying to get to some of these areas due to the conditions post-flood.  You can still hike around the rest of the park using the roads, or even take your bikes out for some fun riding.

The area has really been impacted by the historic flooding, but they are really doing everything they can to bring the area back to what it was before the flooding.  Take the time to stop out and if you do, offer a hand at helping to clean-up!

Product Review of HeadSpin Light System:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I am offered the chance to test from time-to-time.  On this camp out I was provided with the chance to test the new HeadSpin Light System.  If you would like to know more about the HeadSpin Light System check out their website: www.headspinoutdoors.com

When I un-boxed this light kit with my boys we were all immediately taken aback by the options this light provided for use.  The light system comes in a well designed case that houses all the components in their own foam lined spaces.  

You receive the light unit itself, a handlebar mount, a head mount, a flashlight mount, and a wall charger mount.  The kit also comes with a hex wrench for mounting the handlebar mount to a bike, a mini-usb charging cord, directions, and HeadSpin sticker.

The first thing we tested out was the brightness of the light while we were in the campground.  We were very impressed with how bright this light is and how well it was able to show us much more of the campground than we expected based on previous headlamps we have used.  The headlamp is easily adjusted for size and my boys were constantly changing the fit between each other.  Adjusting the light intensity isn't too difficult either once you identify which button is used for each task.  The buttons were a little awkward to identify with gloves on during the cold night when we were at the campground.  I would suggest making the buttons easier to identify in some manner, possibly raising them a bit.

While I did not have my mountain bike out with us on this trip, I did identify another way to use the handlebar mount.  This mounted quite well to the bottom of the grip of my trekking pole.  This worked out really well when we were walking around the campground and really added just that much more functionality to the HeadSpin Light System.  I do look forward to getting this mounted on my mountain bike as well and trying it out on some of the local trails.

Now for full disclosure, I have always been into different types of flash lights as it always seems as though I have a job where they are required in some way.  I was really impressed with the flashlight handle for the HeadSpin Light System.  It is too often when you are carrying a flashlight where you notice the grip is either too big or too small.  This grip really fit in the Goldilocks arena for me and I expect to use this quite often.

When charging this light system you have the ability to use the wall plug base or the USB cable.  I received this light earlier enough and I was able to use the wall plug.  The light had no power when I received it and was fully charged in an hour after being plugged into the wall. In my book that is impressive, and I used it all weekend and it is still going on that charge.

I really appreciate the versatility of this light system overall and recommend it to anyone looking for a good interchangeable light setup.  This works for campers, cyclists, DIY addicts, etc.  This is really a great kit and I plan to use this setup for years to come.  Again, to find out more about this fantastic light system check it out on their website at: www.headspinoutdoors.com

It’s meh

Our stay was the weekend of Oct. 26. I prefer primitive camping in secluded areas. Not the case here. Sites are small and very close together. Luckily we stayed at the end of the season so the park wasn’t very busy. We did have semi close RV neighbors and their lights at night illuminated our surroundings. It was windy that weekend so the sound of the leaves and Interstate mostly drowned out the sound of the neighbors. Another downside was how close the park is to the Interstate. Park pricing wasn’t bad and staff was friendly and professional. I picked up more trash than we created during our stay, that was unfortunate. Even the fact that someone threw out plastic flower pots, there are dumpsters close by. SMH.

Platte River State Park

Very nice park! Not as crowded as neighboring Mahoney State Park but very similar activities.

Mahoney

Very well kept park with so much to do!

Loved staying here

Beautiful clean place to stay

Ranger Review: Banner & Oak Hats at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, NE

Campground Review:

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Nebraska is on the Platte River off Interstate 80 about halfway between Omaha and Lincoln.  I will preface the review stating that the review is receiving four stars primarily because of the amenities at the park.  The campgrounds themselves are fairly basic.  There are areas to tent and park your RV within the state park.  The RV campground has about a dozen full hookup sites and the rest of the campsites have electric hookups.  There is not much room between the sites, so you do feel that you are stacked on top of the other campers.  There is a wait list for the campgrounds much of the year.  We were able to score a walk-up thankfully.  The site does have water fill stations and a dump station.  Their shower house is also decent enough.

But, as I said you are not coming here to hangout in the campground.  There is something for everyone at this state park.  They have hiking on paved and un-paved trails, which we utilized both.  There is an activities center for kids to make different arts and crafts.  They have horseback riding, a theater, paddle boating, parks, minature golf, etc.  During the summer you can have fun at the big water park they have on site.  They also have cabins and lodge rooms available for rent.  The cabins book quickly, and can get pricey at around upwards of $400 a night during their peak season for one of the newer cabins.  The lodge houses a decent restaurant with some great views of the Platte River. 

At the main activities area they have a massive indoor play area for kids.  This building also houses their new and extremely fun 40ft. climbing walls.  Outside this building during the winter they have a covered ice rink and they also produce their own snow for the sledding hill.  All-in-all it is a nice place with plenty to do onsite.

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt I occasionally get to test products.  While out at the state park we got the opportunity to test out Banner & Oak hats. https://bannerandoak.com/ 

My boys and really appreciate good hats.  We found the Banner & Oak brand hats to be really exception hats.

The hats my sons wore were the Banner & Oak Eagle and the Banner & Oak Sierra.  These two hats were made in the United States.  I wore the Banner & Oak Switchback which was not produced in the United States.

All three hats are really quality hats.  The stitching is tight around the sweatbands and the bill, which is usually a sign the hat will last a long time.

The mesh used for the back of the hat appears to be an older heavier duty mesh.  This mesh reminds me of the mesh found in older hats, or the hats of my youth.  I still have a couple of these hats, so this is another good sign of lasting quality.

The overall designs of all three hats are really just cool.  They look cool and they feel cool, and I am really surprised by how much I like the flat billed hat, since I usually cannot stand them.  The boys and I are really impressed with the construction and feel of the Banner & Oak hats!

Love it

This is one off the prettiest places we have been camping at and will be going back again. Camp sites are spread apart giving u room to do things on ur camp site.

Great outdoors close to the city!

Hitchcock Nature Center is north of Crescent, IA and just let outside Omaha, NE. A short drive from the city and you are in the Loess Hills that were explored by Lewis and Clark on their trek west. The is a $3 day use pass or a $20 yearly pass available.

This place has a lot to offer anyone. They have Nature education events, archery range, a handicapped accessible boardwalk trail, hiking trails, camping, etc. There are miles of trail available with backcountry camping available for $10 per night. RV camping is also available for $15 per night with electric, showers/bathrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, etc. They also offer a couple cabins for rent.

The hiking is fantastic and offers something for every skill level. There are absolutely gorgeous views of the Missouri River valley below. All trails are marked and the a multiple different trailheads, many which start around the visitors center/tower Overlook. During the winter they even over snowshoeing events. It is really a nice place to get outdoors anytime of the year.

Awesome

The park is well kept, the sites have plenty of space to them so you don’t feel like you’re on top of someone else’s camper. There’s playgrounds and a pool, a dog park, basketball court and disc golf. The nicest park we’ve stayed at for sure.

Really nice campground that is missing shade

Lake Wanahoo is a fairly new lake in Saunders county Nebraska. The lake is part of the local NRD and was originally managed by the state parks department. You used to be able to use your state park permit to gain entry, but now you need to either buy a day pass or a yearly pass from the NRD.

There are plenty of places to camp here including gravel pads and grass pads for RV’s. While most people seem to prefer the gravel pads closer to the lake, we actually prefer grass pads because they are 2-3 larger, so you have more room to setup.

The tent camping area is huge and there always seems to be plenty of availability. We were the only tent in the entire area. The tiered tent area allows you to have a great view of the lake from wherever you setup. All RV and tent spots have picnic tables and fire rings. Unfortunately when the lake and campground were built they planted saplings, so during the hot months there is no shade to be found.

The is still plenty to do at the lake from getting the fishing boat out, using their three wide boat ramp or fishing from the shore using bank or using a jetty. There is a gravel trail that goes all the way around the lake, which provides about a three mile loop. The trail also leads down into the town of Wahoo. There are two large play areas for kids. One is in the campground and one is across the lake in the day use area.

No matter where you go you are not far from a restroom. There are nice clean vault toilets available all around the lake. There is also a large bathroom/shower house in the campground. The shower house does have a change machine on the outside of the build to get change for the showers. These are kept very clean and tidy.

When pulling your RV out here the water fill is in an awkward spot in a parking lot of the campground. To get to the dump station you have to leave the campground, get on the highway and drive to the opposite side of the lake to the day use area. These were just installed a couple years ago. They are nice and level, but just add a bit of driving to get to them.

All-in-all this is a nice place and in a few more years of tree growth, it could be even better!

One of my favorites

Tent camping sites. No electrical hookups but you can still camp in campers if you want. Beautiful Campground with lots of trees and shade. Very nice Lake with fishing available. There appears to be an option for canoe rentals available. Boat ramp and dock. Multiple bathroom locations within the campground. Picnic tables near the water. I’ve kayaked the lake! So much fun.

Very nice!

Very nice campground. Kid friendly with tons of activities. Nice pool & hot tub. Clean laundry facilities and they even have a dog park.

Closed for good!!!!

Due to the pass three years of flooding this campground has been closed for good. Not to be reopened.

Small but nice

This is a County run Park, that has a limited number of sites. The location is very nice, most sites are full sun. And the grounds are located on top,of a hill. Easy drive in, all paved. A lot of hiking trails, for day hikes. Really nice location but site availability is always the question. Would recommend.

Park is closed for the 2019 season due to flooding

Nice park, with electrical and water at most every site, however the campground is flooded by the Missouri River for the 2019 season. Check back soon

Closed the 2019 Season for remodel

This is a very nice park getting better. With better water distribution, electrical distribution and concrete pads. However it is closed until May 2020 for this remodel.

Closed for 2019 season due to flooding

This campground had been closed part of 2018 and all of 2019 Season due to flooding of the Missouri River.

Wouldn’t stop again

Stopped here for one night on a long trip. I was disappointed at first that the swim area was closed already in Mid-August but then I saw it and changed my mind. The areas around the campsites and for swimming were large ponds. I wouldn’t have let my kiddo in there if it was open. The pit toilets were absolutely disgusting, but I guess that is to be expected. Road noise was pretty intense at night. Overall I wouldn’t stop here again.

Our go to campground!

We love Duck Creek! It has everything you would need in a campground! Excellent playgrounds for kids, swimming and beach area, bathrooms, and depending where you park, a beautiful view of the lake and the miles of Peru bottoms around it!

Family Friendly

Convenient location right off the highway, but with that you do get the noise. Has a playground and pool as will as a convenience store. Bathrooms and showers were clean. Not much to do outside of the campgrounds, but we were just passing through so was an ideal spot for us. Offers military discount.

Beautiful

I only stayed the night, but as I was walking my dogs I saw the camp. Everywhere you turn there was something to do. Good fun.

Nice little city park

A nice little city park in the Loess Hills of Iowa, it's not a destination but makes for a good overnight stop. The campground is primarily RV camping with about 20 sites with full hook ups. The tent camping is a bit vague, as all of the numbered sites had hook ups. I ended up pitching my tent in the grass as I didn't want to take the last site with hook ups when I didn't need them. There really aren't any trees for hammocks. The bathroom is secure with a coded door, and it is very clean inside although also very hot. The info on the bath house said to drop your pay envelope in the slot next door to city hall in town, which necessitates a drive back into the cute town. There is a nice walking path around the pond and some pretty neat historical buildings to explore as well. 

An important note: Due to the massive and devastating flooding in the Spring (2019), most of the sites were occupied by flood victims, not just in this campground, but all along highway 29/the Loess Hills. Many campgrounds have modified their fees or closed to regular campers to provide space to families who lost their homes and farms to the Missouri River flooding.

Scenic spot

Scenic lakeside campsites. A great time. Upkeep could be better as dumpsters were overflowing however.

Great place!

Beautiful little spot by a small lake. Excellent pricing- $15 for the night with electric. Several camp sights for RV and tent. Lots of amenities including canoe and paddle boat rentals. Very friendly people, and campers. Even though the site we chose was pretty full, it was very quiet. Other campers were very courteous! We will come back again!

Family Fun

This site is great for any size family. The range of different camping options and amenities is incredible. The facilities are well maintained, the staff is friendly and helpful. Everything is nicely spread out on the grounds, and the location is near the highway to reach other amenities. A definite winner!

Just hike

Small Campground the few hookups cabins and a great place to hike .

Underwater

When camping there in the past great Campground for riding bikes and River fishing underwater this year due to the floods in Iowa..

Horseback riding and archery.

Very clean Campground very well maintained horseback riding was a blast and the archery range was cool as hell face to the T-Rexes

CLOSED FOR GOOD

The Park has been closed for good. Not to be reopened.

Great if Attending an Event or Passing Through

Right next to the event center, tent or rv camping is allowed. Depending on what's happening that day, it can be quiet or very busy. All sites are gravel and have electrical hookups. Internet is available throughout the area. Fires must be contained in an enclosed fire pit and pets must be kept on leash at all times. You can use the arena for showering during the day which is incredibly helpful.