Art S.
Pro
Chicago, IL
Joined July 2016
Small riverside campground

This is a really small campground squeezed between the road and the river. The beauty of the river did not add enough to the appeal of this place for us. Sites are filling up though. Sites have decent room with taller grass around. One vault toilet is shared with camp. 

We didn’t get a comfortable vibe here. Maybe it’s the busy road or small space or a long day of traveling. This was one of the only options as other campgrounds filled up quickly for the weekend. 

There is ample fishing in a beautiful river. A few hiking trails are around that you can drive to. Big Timber is an easy 30ish mile drive away.

Donation based camping right on the Yellowstone River

Right next to Yellowstone River and in the town of Columbus is a free campground. There are a lot of sites that are well spread out. If the front is full, follow the road next to the golf course and there are more. We camped right next to the restrooms so it wasn’t the quiet spot. However it was the only one left with shade- it seems pretty full today. I agree with the other reviews. This is a nice spot but it’s not exactly what we’re looking for. There are a lot of dogs(some loose) and a lot of people. Traffic noise is higher and campers arrive late and leave early. It’s a great thing that this town offers. Mosquitoes are a bit of a nuisance. The river is beautiful and the river access is all around. 

If the crowd thinned out our stay would have been better. We got one of the last few sites and others filled in later. 

Near the entrance is a donation post so your contribution can help this continue.

Spacious sites with lots of wooded surroundings

Seaton Creek is the campground that is near the start of the Manistee River Trail. There is day hiker parking right in the camp. This is the perfect start to exploring a beautiful trail. 1 mile of trail gets you to the Manistee trail. You can cross the suspension bridge and hike the North Country Trail. Both are great but have different vibes. The Manistee trail is more up and down with plenty of backpacking campsites. The North Country trail drifts away from the river into the forest and makes its way back. 

Seaton Creek Campground has spacious sites that are spread apart. Some are closer than others but it’s nice to have choices. Clean vault toilets and a hand-pump for water can be found. The camp host has firewood for sale or you can stop at a local house on the drive in. Even with the forest, we still had enough sun for our solar panel to charge up the battery. 

With only 1 dot of cell signal, just turn it off and know you can still call out in an emergency.

Remote camping next to hiking trails

This is a surprisingly good discovery. The sites are large and covered in gravel. Plenty of room for multiple tents. The woods are filled with poison ivy so the big camp area is very useful. There are a few vault toilets scattered around that are ok but not the best we’ve seen. A hand pump for water is near the garbage cans. We found plenty of empty sites but people were starting to fill them in. I imagine it might get full for the weekend. 

Just around the corner(or down the trail at the start of camp) is a network of hiking trails. They scurry around cliffs, falls and ravines. We found small pools perfect for a summer dip. Half the hikers were carrying towels so it must be a common plan. 

We didn’t do much hiking because our dog kept trying to hike right into the poison ivy. This would have been better with our dog sitting this one out. 

At only$10 per night, this is a great deal.

Open field hillside camping near a fishing lake

This campground has walk-in only camping but it’s right next to where you park. It’s a quiet place in an open field surrounded by forest. Choose a campsite under some trees if you like. Vault toilets are up the hill. Garbage cans are plentiful. 

Deer run hiking trail is right in camp and gets you a bit of a hike. 

There is lots of fishing opportunity here. Spring lake is long and shallow. They allow pole fishing. We saw people fishing from boats as well as from nicely designed pullouts along the road. 

Be ready for a long slow drive in to the campground. Follow signs that direct you to the camp office. That’s where the camping is.

Closed (2019) but may open again

The drive quickly takes you down smaller and smaller roads. We didn’t see campground signs but there are small signs pointing the way to the Egyptian Hills Recreation area. Seeing a couple pyramids by mailboxes enticed us to continue. Online reviews said it was a good camp. 

The road is deceptively smooth. Ruts and water crossings appear suddenly. The creek looks like it overflowed. This is why I’m assuming that they will reopen. 

We drove until the locked gate kept us out. The area looks wooded and beautiful. It’s a spot to check out when they open again.

Moose!! Roadside camping in moose turf

Every time we passed this campground we saw empty sites. This came in handy on this holiday weekend. We grabbed a site and before we even filled out the forms the rest were taken. It’s nice to have found a campsite at late notice on a holiday but they did fill up. 

The campground has a couple loops. We ended up right next to the road. Consistent traffic became background noise if we didn’t pay attention to it. We would have preferred a quieter setting but at least we found a campsite. The campers in the other loop seemed louder and more active. One site had a bunch of dogs and a couple of sites had large groups. Our loop was quiet and restful.

The hosts keep the place clean. With all the rain we’ve had, the trail that links up to Sibley Lake trail was too muddy to hike. We walked up the hill away from the road where logging is being done. It led to a series of trails that seemed to lead to more logging. 

The highlight was finding a mother and baby moose grazing right through our campsite. The host told us that a moose killed a dog recently. I’m keeping a closer eye on ours now. 

We loved the moose coming into camp here! This is an ok campground but the closeness to the road wasn’t the best.

Primitive walk-in tent camping in a cool riverside spot

Warning: google maps will take you down a small road with houses. Skip that one. Continue straight on the main road and it will have a turn off for the camp. 

At first we we a bit worried about what it would be like. The road there went through 20 some miles of ranching and no trees. Once the national forest starts it is a beautiful area. 

This is also walk-in tenting only. The sites are beautiful and hidden under trees. There is plenty of room between sites giving you privacy. The river is right next to the campsites - perfect sound to relax to. A hand pump water source is here. This is primitive camping in a cool little spot. 

There is a historical site open to tour on the weekend. Natural Bridge site is on the way here with hiking. This is a nice place but it doesn’t handle our teardrop camper.

Large sites with play ares for families

Given our experience was on a hot and humid day, I would rate this as 3. However I’m trying to be impartial so I’m putting our temperature discomfort aside and giving it 4. The campsites are large and reasonably priced for an overnight stay.

Campsites are large- some big enough for multiple campers. Most sites have water and electric. Plenty of tall trees around for shade. The sites don't have vegetation between them but they are big enough to give you some room. Restrooms are spread around with one being a shower house. 

The lake has boat access. Some kayaks were available to rent. Short hiking trails can be found(with such a large place we were hoping for longer hikes. Playground equipment was getting consistent use today. 

Most sites have nobody in them - perhaps during the week is a slow time. There are some sites for long term camping that are clearly designated. 

The drive through the touristy area had me guessing as to what this would be like. If simple camping is not your thing, there are a couple of resort type places right down the road.

Small campground right on the river - check for flooding before traveling

This is a very small campground. Parts were closed because of flooding so maybe your experience will be better. There were half a dozen sites available this weekend. Each site has direct water access for an easy fishing experience. A boat launch and day use parking area were seeing activity too. Vault toilets are at the end on the camp host side. 

Other than fishing or watching the water flow by, there wasn’t much else here. The drive in is through active farmland. You could walk along the gravel roads. Another option is to visit Loud Thunder forest for hiking. They also have boat rentals. 

A local church held a communal breakfast on Labor Day so check out the small local towns while you’re here.

Multiple campgrounds within a forest near the Mississippi

Registering for any site means stopping at the main ranger office. We waited while a line of people rented pontoon boats, canoes and kayaks. We found site 6 in Silva Campground to be nicely set apart. 

Silva is wooded and has more seclusion than the other camps. River campground has campers right in a line with no shade around them. Silva was good for us. 

Some sites are close together- perfect for a small group. Others are open and along the road. 6 was carved out of the woods- we felt immersed in the forest. One set of 4 vault toilets serves this campground. Water can be found in a couple locations. Our site had full sun during the day so our screen tent saved the day.

A variety of hiking trails are here. Some are used by bikes and horses too. Rock Island is a short drive away and we hiked on Sylvan Island there. Many people are here for fishing. 

We didn’t like the large family gathering at the site across from us. They disappeared as soon as the rain came but there was a lot of activity going on. Some of the picnic areas would be perfect for these moments but they didn't move to them. We still enjoyed our stay.

Stuck between a fairly busy road and the slough

Squeezed between the slough and the road, a campground awaits. Close enough so that one side of your campsite is against the road. The sites were not mowed super recently so the greenery was about 6” tall in spots. Evidence of recent rain was found in the small ruts in the one roadway. There are no trails or even a sidewalk by the road. 

This campground isn’t that enticing but it’s nice to know that there are options if everything else is full. On Labor Day weekend there weren’t any campers - this was enough to send us further down the road. Loud Thunder is just down the road and might be a preferable place. 

We did see people parking in the day use lot and launching their boats for a morning of fishing.

Amazing hiking and beautifully kept but a bit pricey

This campground is in a populated area but the nature preserve is big. We rarely saw traffic once here. A train goes by a couple times but it was always during the day. 

It’s pricey if you are from out of the county. We were hoping to camp at the primitive sites but they are walk-in only. Our teardrop wasn’t allowed. We settled at site 37 and enjoyed our stay. There are vault toilets but the large number of big RVs meant they were not used often leaving them almost like our private restrooms. Each site has water and electric. Trees are around the outside with few on the inside sites. All the sites have paved pads. 

The highlight of our experience is the hiking. There are miles of trails. On one hike we were on paved, sifted gravel, grass and single trek trails. There are a lot of loops giving you options. When we left we still hadn’t hiked all of them. 

If the price was more reasonable we would certainly be back. If you need the water/electric then this is a great choice.

Twisty campground layout makes for a beautiful place

This national forest campground is right along the river. A hiking trail goes right from camp. In fact there is also a day use parking area. Peterson bridge is big and crosses right outside camp. 

The road in camp twists and turns providing a wonderful layout. Campsites are spread apart and are facing all different ways. There were a lot to choose from when we stopped in on a Thursday. It's nice to have paved campsites in a national forest camp. It wasn't raining when we were here but we still appreciated the pavement.

The Manistee River Trail is not far away either - perfect for day hiking or an a weekend backpack. This is a great spot to spend some time.

A beautiful area with only a few camping options

We were lucky and found an open site but they filled up by mid afternoon. Reservations might be the best way to go here. 

Our site had nice distance between the next camp but others are closer together. We had lots of room- enough so that the dog didn’t even get disturbed by other campers. Our camping area was beyond the car- think a straight line back the opens up into a circular camping area. Some sites are right on the water and provide sunset beauty. Vault toilets and water are available. They had a sign advertising a local place offering showers for a small fee. 

We walked over to the lighthouse. They give tours and have a camp store/gift shop. There aren’t really any trails there but you can get to the water in a bunch of places. 3 miles down the road is another part of the state park. There are some very nice hiking trails here. They are wide and go in loops giving options for distance. We went to the overlook and then down to the beach. Sadly dogs aren’t allowed on the beach so Dakota rolled in the sand at the edge and we continued hiking. 

Make sure you visit the small towns and wineries/cideries. There is a lot to do on this peninsula.

Lake Michigan camping with dunes and trails

I remember coming here when I was young but haven’t stayed here in decades. It was time to try it out again. We arrived around 5 or 6 and found lots of open sites on a Wednesday. They put us in a nicely wooded site with empty neighboring sites. We could see our neighbors and others walked by on the road so there were plenty of people in camp. There were water puddles in the road and some campsites. It rained during the night too. Our site is sandy with no grass which wasn’t as great with the wetness. However it’s camping at the dunes so it’s expected. The vault toilets are ok- one had standing water in the corner. Water is available a few sites down and a garbage bin is on the way out. We camped in the rustic loop- no electric or other hookups. There is a larger section with 2 loops that has these amenities. Showers are also located over there. It’s a longer walk or you can drive to the showers. 

We tried hiking and found fallen trees blocking the path. There are other trails to choose from. Be sure to check out the beach and climb up the sand dunes. 

This was a nice campground within a couple hours of Chicago.

Ranger Review of Midland X-Talker Radio at Fort Custer State Rec Area

Campground Review: 

After finding our original campground full, we were directed over to Fort Custer. We found a campsite that was large with vegetation separating us from neighbors. I didn't expect to find something this interesting as an alternate to original plans but it worked out nicely.

There are a couple hundred sites and most of them were full. Our site was on the far end of a loop. This meant a longer walk to the restrooms and showers. On the other hand, we were right across from an access trail to the blue hiking trail. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit. It was overcast upon arrival only to have the sun shine down the next day. We soon found out that there was enough clearing in the treetops to give our camp full sun for most of the day. If you camp here, I suggest one of the other sites that would give you a break from the sunny heat.

We hiked on a multi-use trail that the ranger suggested. The blue trail goes around a couple lakes and was wonderful. We did miss a sign or two and ended up turning our 4 mile trip into a 6.5 mile one but there are plenty of spots to rest and enjoy the time. We passed other hikers and bikers and even some people trying their luck at fishing. There are quite a few mountain bike trails on the other side of the recreation area. A horse trail circles around the outside edge. 

Product Review: 

As a Dyrt Ranger I sometimes get products to evaluate. This trip I tested out the Midland X-Talker two way radio - T77VP5. The kit we used came bundled into a zippered case that is perfect for keeping everything organized. We charged it up before our trip and even tried it out in a school building. 

We read reviews that said it might not work well in buildings and thought we should see. I gave them to two high schoolers and asked them to run throughout the place testing them as they went. They came back happy and excited and wanted to keep using them.

The real test came out in the woods. The belt clip snaps on easily and this stayed connected to my pack strap for our entire hike. The X-Talker fits nicely in the hand and the buttons are perfectly placed. Another feature I wanted to try was the weather radio. It scans channels automatically to find a weather channel in range. You just need to listen to the report as it cycles through the days. We had some rain and storms moving in so this proved useful in helping us sneak out of camp really early to avoid the downpour that was looming.

The Midland X-Talker T77VP5 radios worked wonderfully and will certainly see more use on future adventures.

Group camping in open area with prickly pear

This is a group only campground. You also need to reserve this- it’s not one you just show up to. There is a big open field with 2 covered picnic table areas. Each one has 2 tables in it. A standout feature might be the 2 huge fit pits. They each have a nice wood ring that is perfect to sit on for some evening storytelling. One set of vault toilets is off to the side. 

One drawback is the amount of prickly pear cacti. It is everywhere! There are some free areas to set up a tent but definitely watch where you walk. This camp is also in a clearing so there’s no shade except by the edges. 

Another option is Pine Campground which is just down the road. There are also individual back country sites that you can backpack to. 

The natural area has some great hiking (the ranger recommends the green trail). There is also hunting and fishing here. A horse campground around the bend means you might encounter some on the trails. 

This is a nice area set aside from all other campers but it’s in the open and those cacti are a pain.

Sandy forested equestrian camping

This is the campground for horses and their riders. Tie up posts are in each campsite along with picnic tables. The campground is one loop so the inner ring of sites are almost like a group site setup. The outer ring sites are more private and up against the woods. A set of vault toilets is commonly located. Along with garbage cans there are multiple spots to pile manure. There were a couple sites occupied the first night but it emptied out on Saturday. 

Most trails in this natural area are accessible to horses. Trails head out from camp. The longest being almost 15 miles. Hiking and hunting also happen here so keep an eye open on the trails. If you have an energetic horse that you want to work hard, head into the yellow loop. The ranger said it tires everyone because it’s steep hills of sand. 

Across the road is a spot for day use riders to park their trailers. There were a bunch parked when we passed it. 

This is a hidden gem and worth giving a chance.

Rustic camping with river access

Riverside fishing access that is about 25 miles out of town. Camping is dispersed-like so find a campfire ring and set up. Camping here is simple and pretty rustic. Campsites didn’t have an appealing look but I guess the real draw is fishing. The boat ramp gives access to the water. 

It also has little trails from camp that sneak you to the river. This is a pretty fun feature that gave a private feel to camp. 

A farm is adjacent so only go to the public area. It’s clearly signed but it’s important to respect the locals. 

This is an out of the way spot along a beautiful river. The river is so powerful! We saw quite a few people dropping off boats and moving their cars further down.