Note that this review is from June 2019 when we came during a freak accident of mosquitoes basically overtaking the entire national park of Canyonlands and surrounding areas. Due to a cool, wet spring and early summer, mosquitoes would literally start attacking your car when you would park and immediately attack you as you exited the car.
Hopefully now that it's been over a year since I've been to this campground, things have changed. With that being said, it's an honor system - you pay and there is no guard on site. There are bathrooms, but nothing else since you're inside of the national park. Because this national park is so large, I would recommend buying everything and anything at a nearby grocery as you won't find anything aside from the visitor center inside the national park.
The campground was lovely - lots of space, stargazing, and secluded - away from the crowds, but also conveniently located to the major sites to see. Would recommend (as long as mosquitoes aren't taking over)!
I've been to my fair share of campgrounds, and Fruita Campground is, hands down, the best campground I've ever been to. Why?
- greenery. Among tons of dirt and rocks, Fruita offers gorgeous greenery and trees and shade!
- free fruit trees. We came during peak apricot season, so we got to pick tons of free apricots for our journey to Zion after our stay here.
- free firewood. Let's face it - you're in the middle of the desert so there's not a ton of firewood that you can legally buy/pick. They have it for free.
- camp store - sells tasty pies, desserts, and more. Be sure to grab some!
- wildlife. We saw lots of wildlife while we were here.
- stars. Some of the best stars I've ever seen while camping!
With COVID, it seems that everyone…and then more people are going camping. It's a bittersweet type of situation. Nevertheless, it's been very hard to find decent camping in Indiana that isn't packed in like sardines, while also trying to escape the city and get into nature - not around more people.
Luckily, a friend and I came here last October and this place was great. We got a non electric site and were in the middle of the sites. We had a great lake view and were very happy with our setup. It was a pull-through site, although not all are like that. We were able to set up in no time.
We had lots of space, away from our neighbors. The campstore had wood and random items that you might need should you forget. We were just steps away from the lake and enjoyed walking down there every morning. There aren't the best hiking trails around, so you'll need to drive to the nearby Brown County or National Forest to hike on trails that are actually worth the time.
I will add that the setup is a bit odd for non-electric. You basically had to pull up to the gatehouse, get your reservation info, then do a U-turn and go back out past the campstore in order to get to your campground. Very odd setup to say the least.
I came here and stayed in my tent (family had their horse trailer with camper) for a night during the chilly nights of October. I wish all campsites were like these - very, very spread out!
Totally makes sense given that you have large horse trailers/campers and also horses at each site, but even then, they were very spread out and had lots of great space to actually enjoy nature.
In terms of trails, there was a starting access point at the horse campground for horseback riding trails that also led to the horse barn, but if you are wanting to hike, you have to drive, unfortunately. Another flaw is that the bathrooms in the horse campground aren't modern and they're pit toilets. Even with the cooler weather, they still wreaked and were not pleasant to use.
A friend and I came here with her pop-up tent for a random weekend in 2020 when the weather was absolutely perfect for camping - in the 70s the entire trip.
We arrived and were shocked to see that our site was basically on top of our neighbor's and it was not flat at all. Luckily, we weren't tent camping or it would've been a disaster.
We did have some lake views, although we were in the middle of the road so we didn't have our own private space like other sites did. We were in the non-electric area, but did have modern restrooms.
The restrooms were kept very clean and smelled of bleach at all times (a good thing during COVID). There is also a hiking trail that goes near the lake that is very close to the campground, so good access point for hikers.
One thing to note is how close the sites are to each other, especially for those in the electric areas. It was as if it was a little city with how many people/campers/RVs/campers there were. I wasn't a fan.
Heads up for my fellow tent campers: there are some real doozies of campsites at this campground (at least in the modern campground we stayed in). There are lots that are very uneven or aren't very spacious for medium/larger tents.
Luckily, we hit the jackpot and found a perfect spot where we set up 2 small tents under some trees, had space for hammocks on the other end of the site, and had room for our car and a fire pit area.
The amenities were perfectly located next to our site - a campstore and also modern bathrooms. We came during coronavirus and the bathrooms smelled of bleach, which was nice. The only issue was the men's bathroom floods in one of the two stalls. The showers were nice and clean.
Our car battery ended up dying sadly and the DNR ranger was very helpful in getting us back up and running.
I get asked "where should we go camping or hiking in the Midwest?" Hocking Hills State Park is always my go-to answer.
It has a ton of different terrains, it's easily accessible from Columbus, OH, and has great hiking opportunities.
This particular campground is amazing because it's located nicely to many hiking trails but far away that you aren't overly crowded so you still get the feeling that you're in nature.
I've been here a ton growing up in the horse campground area, but most recently was there for tent camping. We were surrounded mostly by RVs, but we fit in quite nicely into our site.
The sites were nicely spaced out and the hiking trails were all nearby.
A friend and I came here as we didn't have any reservations for a campground one night during our Mighty 5 road trip.
We passed by here after visiting Dead Horse Point SP. It's very close to the state park and it's along the way to Canyonlands (about 15 minutes away).
The campground is quite simple. They're first-come, first-serve sites. Around 7 of them total.
When we came, it was insanely infested by mosquitoes, which is why I am docking a star from my review. They were horrible due to a wet, cool spring they had a few months before we arrived.
The bathroom situation is pretty bare. It's a pit-style with no official door - just a chain to say that it's occupied.
Our campsite (#1) was relatively flat, but it did have a slight angle. When we were setting up our tent, it was so windy that it kept blowing the tent away. We weren't able to get stakes into the ground due to the ground being too hard and full of rocks. We ended up using bungee cords tied to the picnic table.
By far, the best part of this campground was the sunset. It was one of the prettiest sunsets I've ever seen in my life. Well worth the $20 campground fee and the multiple mosquito bites we endured while watching the sun set.
Out of all places I've camped in Indiana, this is, by far, the worst. Please note that this is for the non-electric sites. Reasons for the low rating:
- the firewood that they sell to you is complete crap. It's so wet and damp that you can't burn it. We have had to take every single batch back we've purchased cause it's so bad. They don't do refunds.
- The playground is so close to most campsites in the non-electric section. I'd recommend getting as far away as possible as the screams of children echo like birds flying throughout the campground.
- Not the park's fault, but raccoons are horrible here. I'm talking, "walk up to your campfire as you're sitting next to it and steal food that's on the burner" bad. Lol.
We were lucky enough to find a campsite (#118) very far away from the playground which was surrounded by grasses that separated the campsites surrounding you which was very nice. Again, the raccoons were horrible though.
I really enjoy this campground. I've camped here about 3 times and every time was enjoyable. The one thing to note is that the section of sites to the left (when looking at a map) are all very hilly so it might seem flat, but they're all divided by a lot of hills (with the most right campsites being downhill). We didn't realize this the first time we came here to camp, and the host was very accommodating and let us change sites to one closer to the restroom and to the top. It had recently rained, so we didn't want to get flooded.
They're decently spaced between each site as well. One of my favorite campsites in Indiana.