the dyrt
Lovely swamp (not sarcasm!)

This on a bay on the very western side of Lake Erie among a wildlife refuge and wilderness area. I came for the birding and wasn’t disappointed. Parts of this park are very built up as a resort feel but the nature center, shore swimming, and wilderness is still very nice. Unfortunately they allow hunting and trapping, it was disturbing. The campsites are pretty crowded but still ok. There’s a yurt and cabins too.

An hour from Pittsburgh

We go here for the Civil War Reenactment every couple years. It’s a beautiful green forest with some historical buildings so it’s a perfect site for that. There are nice hikes around the creek too. We camp in the primitive site, which is very basic and well taken care of.

Great peninsula camping

Great little park with lake views, sandy swimming beach, hiking, boating, and state parks and forests nearby for even more recreation options. The campground is among the trees for great shade and so-so privacy. Some spots are lakeside (numbers 1 through 19), but all are very close to the water. There isn’t a shower in each loop, which can cause some congestion in the morning so plan ahead if possible. They have an amphitheater with ranger events throughout summer. Nice for day use also.

First to Review
Great peninsula camping

Great little park with lake views, sandy swimming beach, hiking, boating, and state parks and forests nearby for even more recreation options. The campground is among the trees for great shade and so-so privacy. Some spots are lakeside (numbers 1 through 19), but all are very close to the water. There isn’t a shower in each loop, which can cause some congestion in the morning so plan ahead if possible. They have an amphitheater with ranger events throughout summer. Nice for day use also.

No camping, day use only

This is a wonderful Potomac Riverfront day-use park with a wildlife refuge and old-grown forests. You can not camp here but you can rent a picnic pavilion for day use. They have excellent nature-centered events and a nature center, plus free picnic areas. Great bird watching and bald eagles. I think the nearest camping is Prince William Forest Park, north on 95.

Cumberland Gap

This is near the borders of KY, VA, and TN in Cumberland Gap park. Convenient to the park, the AT, and the nearby town for supplies, restaurants, and grocery. Its name is misleading: the campground is quite large and not far from civilization or the highway, but it’s still a great place to enjoy nature. The campground is among the trees so is very shady and semi-privacy. This is the only campground in this part of the park. Nothing to do on site besides picnic and relax, there’s endless hiking and backpacking nearby.

Cumberland Gap

This is near the borders of KY, VA, and TN in Cumberland Gap park. Convenient to the park, the AT, and the nearby town for supplies, restaurants, and grocery. Its name is misleading: the campground is quite large and not far from civilization or the highway, but it’s still a great place to enjoy nature. The campground is among the trees so is very shady and semi-privacy. This is the only campground in this part of the park. Nothing to do on site besides picnic and relax, there’s endless hiking and backpacking nearby.

HUGE cabin GROUP Camp #1

PWFP has a number of large group cabin campgrounds available to rent, with capacities of 75 to 200. They are called Goodwill (#1), Mawavi (#2), Oreda (#3), Pleasant (#4), Happyland (#5). My organization has rented 3 of the 5 different cabin camps over the years. These camps were made by the CCC and even used by the then-CIA during WWII. They are extremely rustic and you should expect to see lots of bugs, snakes, etc. during your stay, and it adds to the experience in a great way. The cabins have beds with waterproof mattresses, closets, screen windows, and electricity, but no fans or AC (bring fans!!). There are central shower houses, central dining halls (with full modern kitchens, fridge, etc), and extra buildings called craft lodges (which have tables for activities, discussions, etc.). Sites have extras like fire rings with seating, swimming ponds, hiking trails, grassy playing fields, etc. but I’m not sure they all have all of these. They’re all among the trees and shady. The PWFP rangers and website have lots of great info on the local flora & fauna (best moths I’ve ever seen in my life here). This is a great place for a school overnight or scouting. They’ve been working on renovating them since we started renting them in 2006, so make sure to tour all the different camps to get the one that meets your needs best. Full info is at https://www.nps.gov/prwi/planyourvisit/upload/Group%20Cabin%20Camping.pdf

Green rolling hills

Simple campground, clean, power at all the sites, wooded but only semi-private. Cabins to rent too. Close to other state and national lands for lots of hiking and other recreation options. Nice place to relax in nature.

Backcountry permit required

Backcountry permit required, not free but I forget the cost. Absolutely amazing park but some of the drop-offs are a little scary…don’t drink alcohol & camp here. There are about a dozen backcountry sites to choose from, I think all of them qualify as backpacking to get to the sites (more than a mile) though the trails aren’t very difficult and are easy to follow. Since it’s backcountry you have to bring water purification methods (or your own water) and don’t expect bathrooms or cell service. Worth getting sand in everything to stay here. Camping on the bluffs is like nothing else, highly recommended!

Lots of lakes

The caretaker was especially friendly, gave us recommendations for stuff to do in the area. The park itself has lots of hiking (possibly mountain biking) trails, boating. Water & vault toilets, some sites wooded, ok size. Not the cleanest state park I’ve ever been to (at least in 2013) but ok. Spent more time nearby than at the park but if you have a boat there’s a dock at the park that could keep you busy for days.

UP on Whitefish Bay

Great area with tons to do, but the campsites themselves aren’t exceptional. Bathrooms etc. are relatively modern. Tent sites kind of small. Definitely make reservations if you’re there in summer. Plan to spend most of your time off site as the park itself is small. Nice wooded area, sandy, waterfront. Go out to the bay itself for more activities. Oh and I could see Canada from my camp site.

Forests and river

We went on a canoe trip in the area and stayed here (note that you need to register your watercraft regardless of type) at the canoe-only sites down the river. There is also tent and RV camping at the main site. Campground is very wooded and has modern facilities including full RV, hot showers, laundry, playground, etc. Large and lots of sites. There is great, though not particularly challenging, hiking here, lots of nice views.

Awesome island park, but NO CAMPING

Absolutely beautiful park along the little strip of PA on Lake Erie. There is a lot of wildlife among the ponds and marshes with great trails throughout. Swimming and boating on the lake. There are overnight campground options nearby if you do want to spend a few days here. Close to 90 for convenience but far enough from everything to feel like an island getaway.

Great waterfalls

This is a big state park with a lot of different things to do in nature (in or on the water, a few trails). It’s close to 70, staff enforce rules well, pool, sports fields, lots of different camping loop options, most are wooded, ok privacy. Unfortunately it’s crowded, could use another bath house.

Great waterfalls

This is a big state park with a lot of different things to do in nature (in or on the water, a few trails). It’s close to 70, staff enforce rules well, pool, sports fields, lots of different camping loop options, most are wooded, ok privacy. Unfortunately it’s crowded, could use another bath house.

Lakefront

On the lake and not far from the highway. We stayed in the deluxe cabin which were amazing. The views were fantastic even though the cabins are a little close together. The AC worked great and the screened porch let us enjoy the view bug-free. It was really like a hotel room on the water, we’d definitely come back. The tent areas looked good too though I don’t think any are on the lake.

Great waterfall

Campsites were large, surrounded by trees, nice grills & fire rings, good showers & flush toilets, relatively cool with the breeze (in early July). Full but not overly noisy. Includes a small general store and very friendly rangers. Walk to everything from your tent. Trails are pretty and easy, but will only take a typical hiker 2-4 hours to see everything. I wouldn’t plan to spend more than a full day here (one night), but it’s nice for what it is. You can hear the road from some spots (and another couple said there’s a racetrack nearby that you can also hear). Like most falls, the amount of water depends on rain so if you’re really set on a serious waterfall call ahead and speak with the rangers (we heard a few people complaining that the falls weren’t as good as previous years, but we thought it was great).

Missouri River camping

They have a lot of different sleeping options, from tent to hotel-like cabins. We went a long time ago when it was just tent sites. Some were along the river but most are back in the forest. Aside from the river, there are trails and a pool. Friends have said there are many very recent additions including rock climbing walls, archery, horseback riding, etc. The charm of the area is still there: riverfront views, rolling hills, simple trails through nature. Many other small parks along the whole river nearby, plus a full golf course and Sioux City. Perfect for a road trip stopover or a long weekend for locals.

Only for those with an OK fishing license

Luckily our friends in the area knew about this spot and the restrictions: you need to have an OK fishing license to camp (or visit) here. If you do have the license, the campground is free but they do not provide any services or amenities, except an open site among the trees with a fire pit. Many sites close to the water and not far from waterfalls. If you’re not fishing, there are hiking trails and you can rent kayaks or a raft nearby for rapids. Nice little space but not a good place to stay if you’re just traveling through (since you need that license).