Stacia R.

Creston , IL

Joined November 2017

Mammoth Cave National Park

Campsites are good sized & come with standard picnic table & fire ring. As in most National Park campgrounds, don’t expect to have a lot of privacy between sites. There is also a fairly busy road just outside the campground. Wildlife has become accustomed to people & within a few minutes of being here, we had a deer & fawn at our site; turkeys just down the road. Bathrooms are standard, showers located just down the road at the camp store. You have to purchase firewood, which are kiln dried blocks of sawdust. Not a lot to do in the park except the cave tours. The hiking and biking trails are relatively easy & short. Park staff & visitor center are excellent. It’s not exactly a wilderness experience, but comfortable and convenient if you want to enjoy Mammoth Cave & the surrounding area.

Rustic National Park camping

I have mixed feelings on this campground. We were here mid- July and it was incredibly hot. There is limited shade and little relief from the heat. We had a nice site with the river running alongside it, but it was a dark muddy brown, so not at all enticing to go in it. The host was very friendly and helpful. Bathrooms & water access were nearby but there are no showers within the park. There was also no soap in the bathroom. I was disappointed that there are no fire pits, just small grills at each site. I understand there is probably a moderately high fire danger in the park often, but disappointing nonetheless. The campground has tent, RV and walk in sites available. Some are reservable- some not. The scenery is beautiful in a weird, other worldly way. Unfortunately it was challenging to enjoy it fully due to the 90+ degree temps.

Enjoyable easy camping

I thoroughly enjoyed this park. The campground is a large field for the most part and the sites are located around the circle. As many other reviewers have mentioned, it is not very private, but I thought the camp sites were fairly well spaced out and I didn’t feel like we were crowded at any time. There are not a lot of trees, but we had no problem moving our chairs under the nearest cottonwood and getting some shade. I liked the open feel of the campground surrounded by the canyon. It was a pleasant change as we had just left Glacier National Park which is incredibly busy and packed with people. The park has enough room for tents and RVs. There are 3 cabins centrally located and a tipi, which we stayed in for a night- as it was a nice change not having to set up our tent after having done so the last two weeks on our trip. Water is easily accessible, bathrooms are clean, showers are available but for a fee. It was $3.00 for six minutes. There is a visitor center at the campground as well as a gift shop and cafe near the cavern. We took a cavern tour and really enjoyed it. It was a short but all uphill climb to the cavern, and then a 2 hour tour. Very informative.

Glacier...jewel of the Continent

This is a very busy campground in a stunningly beautiful park. We selected this campground because it is one of only 2 in Glacier National Park that accepts reservations, and its close proximity to Lake McDonald. We stayed in the D loop (loops are A-D). Of the four loops, this one was my favorite. The A loop had larger sites, but they were less private. The A loop is the only loop with showers as well, so a lot of campers come thru to hit the shower. We hit the shower mid-day and were lucky that there was no line and a little hot water. Our loop had a mix of sites, but mostly tent campers. Some have direct views to the lake, some are along Fish Creek, and many are little more than a driveway with a picnic table & fire pit. We had to put our tents, one medium size & one small, in the driveway due to no other space available. The ground was incredibly hard to put stakes into and the gravel drive put a hole in my sleeping pad. The bathroom was within a minute walk and there are several water spickets around each loop. Being “bear aware” is essential in this area, so all food & food prep items have to be stored in your vehicle or one of the communal bear boxes. The camp hosts offer wash basins for dishes and there is a grey water dump at the bathroom. For the most part, it is a relatively quiet campground, as most people are off exploring the park every day. We did have a large group of loud campers/partiers next to us one night that resulted in a small swarm of park rangers showing up, but I think this is probably unusual. Apgar Village is nearby where you can get everything you may need and more…gifts/souvenirs, ice cream, firewood, boat & bike rentals, coffee, etc. Glacier is amazing!…but very busy & with really only one road going thru the park for the most part. Be prepared for crowds but relax & take in the beauty of it all.

Fisherman’s Paradise

If you enjoy fishing, this is the place for you. The park is located on Devil’s Lake which is a fisherman’s paradise regardless of time of year. The park office resembles more of a fishing store than it does a park office, and the fish cleaning area was always full with people and their catch from that day. We stayed in a very private site (primitive site 64) right next to the lake. There were plenty of trees for shade and we felt secluded even though the campground was full. There are more open areas which seemed popular with the RV crowd- 3 separate campgrounds full. There is a boat launch as well. The walk to the bathroom was a little far from our site, but the larger bathrooms near the more popular RV areas were clean and had showers.

Loved our short time here in a camper cabin

We stayed at Maplewood State Park mid-July. We actually stayed in one of the 3 camper cabins and loved it! They have electricity, heat, ceiling fans and a private dock on Beers Lake. There is a vault toilet & water spicket nearby. Each cabin has its own fire pit and picnic table area. It felt very private although the cabins are rather near to each other. We checked out the campgrounds and they had spacious sites, some more private than others. It had a family friendly feel and was obviously a favorite spot for fisherman and water recreation enthusiasts. I wish we could have spent more time in the 9200 acre park. There is a swimming beach & picnic area that allows you to have campfires, as well as a nice shower house. The ranger was helpful regarding my questions about the lake and potentially renting a cabin for ice fishing this winter. At sunset, sitting by the lake, it was beautiful- nothing but songbirds and the call of loons to listen to.

off the beaten path

Located on Kincaid Lake in the northwestern edge of the Shawnee National forest. The campground has three small loops. Two are more forested with smaller sites and one is more open on the edge of the forest, and geared up for equestrian camping. There are very basic pit toilets that were fairly new and clean. You can get potable water at the entrance. We camped here mid-April and the campground water spigots had not been turned on yet. Camping is $10 a night - self check in. No need to worry about finding firewood, as it is plentiful within the forest. Listened to owls at night before bed.

We took a short ride to nearby Ava and checked out Scratch Brewery. Delicious and unique little place that is off the beaten path. Only open on weekends, but highly recommend.

Are we in Illinois?

Garden of the Gods is a wonder to behold… especially if you are wondering how this could possibly be in Illinois. The Shawnee National Forest is a geological paradise that remains somewhat off most people's radar (luckily). Garden of the Gods may be considered its crowned jewel, which does cause it to attract a lot of visitors. The campground is small and basic with pit toilets. Campground is clean and with friendly staff but the real campsites are those that you hike into. There is nothing better than hiking in and stumbling onto a perfect cliff overhang that you can call home for the night. The hiking and views are well worth the trip, just watch your footing on some of those cliffs.

One day is plenty of time

The hiking at Starved Rock can be awesome, especially if it has rained recently and the waterfalls are flowing. Camping at Starved Rock, not so awesome. The campground is generally full if the weather is decent, so reservations are frequently required. There are different types of sites from wooded to an open field.None of the sites offer much in terms of privacy. The place has a bit of a run-down feel to it. The campground is not near most of the hiking trails, so you have to drive and park, and it can be crowded. I have been hiking in Starved Rock for years and each year it seems to get busier and more crowded. I highly recommend checking out the trails which can be done in a day, but don't consider it a camping destination.

Boating & camping

Large campground that gets booked up most weekends. Clinton Lake is a boating destination as the waters are unusually warm due to the discharge from the nearby nuclear plant. There are several different loops within the campground, some are alcohol free and others have direct access to the lake. The bathrooms are basic vault toilets but kept very clean. We have camped here several times, and found depending on the crowds, it can feel a little like a party spot or can be quiet and calm. The different loops have very different feels…some are very shaded in the trees, some more wide open with a prairie type view. There is a beach and concession stand, group camping areas and lots of roads to bike around. We enjoy the boating/camping combo.

Popular dispersed camping area

This is dispersed camping within the Shawnee National Forest. The area can be tricky to find if you are unfamiliar with the area. It can also get very crowded on nice days due to its proximity to the college campus. It is also very popular with rock climbers and people on horseback. I found the trails to be somewhat confusing and not well marked. I was here Easter weekend and the weather was great, so there were a lot of tents set up right near the parking area. If you don’t mind hiking in a bit, peace and quiet can be found.

Convenient urban camping

Camped here one night as we prepared to leave Colorado for home. The park is in the city, but surprisingly doesn’t feel that way. The place was busy and no privacy between sites. Bathrooms were clean and well kept. There were a few “interesting” characters in the park. Felt like they came here to party and hangout on the weekend. It was a convenient camping experience.

Favorite Park!

I do my best to cross a few national parks off my bucket list every year, and Grand Teton is my favorite of them all. It is a busy area, and all sites are first come- first serve, so plan accordingly. We timed our arrival so we were there fairly early the day after many Fourth of July campers would be returning home. It worked in our favor, as the sweet woman who checked us in assigned us a spot in a quieter loop away from the RV areas (we are tent campers). Our site was spacious and among the tall pines. Each site has its own bear box which is fantastic and served as a great storage locker for all our gear. It was also in the shade and helped keep the ice in our coolers longer. There are restrooms nearby that are pretty basic, but include an area to wash dishes and get water. There is a fantastic camp store with a pretty amazing variety of groceries, including a fresh deli, ice cream, and quality craft beers! Shower and laundry facilities are available too. Jackson Lake is nearby where we took a boat tour that was educational & entertaining. We were rewarded with seeing some bald eagles and elk while on the ride. We also rented kayaks and canoes there for some afternoon fun. All in all, great camping experience in one of the beat National Parks!

Not my kind of campground

KOAs are not my norm when it comes to camping, but when on a long road trip you often have to find camping based on your location. We gave this campground a shot, and it reaffirmed why I don’t do KOA style camping. There is nothing really wrong with the park, but it did not suit us. Our campsite was a very un-level gravel pad that was within a few feet of the back of cabins. There was little in terms of privacy. The bathrooms were clean and semi conveniently located. I thought the pool would be a treat for my son after spending a couple long hot days of traveling, but it was so cold we couldn’t enjoy the water. The WiFi (another treat for my son) was weak and unusable from our site. The only pro for us was its close proximity to Mt Rushmore, Wind in the Caves, and The surrounding Black Hills sights.

Take in the scenery

If you are camping here, you came for the amazing views of the Badlands, and you have them from your campsite. It is a wide open campground with little to no shade except for the built in shade screen on your picnic table. Expect wind. We struggled a little to get our tent up at first due to the high winds that whip through the campground. There is little privacy due to the lack of trees and no fires are allowed. The visitor center is nearby and has all your last minute needs as well as a diner. There is also an amphitheater close where we caught a concert of new music inspired by national parks. Bathrooms were average with pay showers. Whatever the campground is lacking in amenities is overshadowed by the scenery of the Badlands.

Nice park on the lake

Camped here in July. The campground was very busy with a lot of families. The campsites were spacious, some rather sloped on the backside of the large sand dunes. There was a lot of tree canopy for shade as well, but little privacy between sites. Can’t stop from people watching if you tried. The restroom was large and the showers stay busy with folks washing off the soft sand from the beach area on Lake Michigan. There are wooden stairs to get over the dunes and down to the lake. At sunset it feels like half the campground gathers on those stairs to watch the sunset over the lake. We enjoyed that activity on the beach as well. Although the park was extremely busy, after the sun goes down it was fairly quiet.

Stunning landscapes

We camped at Presque Isle in the Porkies for a long weekend in October. The color change was amazing! This campground is rustic with only vault toilets and no hookups. There is a section that allows generators during certain hours of the day, a non-generator area and a few walk-in sites. There are a few sites which are along the cliff side looking down to Lake Superior, we were lucky enough to reserve one of those, site 2. It was a very large site, equipped with the standard picnic table and fire ring. Many of the sites back up to the woods, which were smaller and a little soggy while we were there. This campground is one of two in the park, Union Bay is the other more modern campground located right on the lake. The sites there are much smaller and crowded. I prefer the more remote Presque Isle campground by far. Less amenities but far less people. The hiking throughout this park is unparalleled in its beauty. The campground is close to the Presque Isle river trail which is waterfall after waterfall. The park has a ski lift we rode to check out the views from the top of the mountain, as well as an 18 hole disc course. It’s the hiking and rugged beauty of the area that is the main attraction, especially catching the fall colors surrounding Lake Superior.

Low key gem

This is a relatively low key park compared to most state parks in Michigan. It is tucked away down an industrial road where unfortunately a power plant of some kind is located, but when you are in the park and on the shores of Lake Michigan, you easily forget about the eyesore you passed to get there. We enjoyed walking the shore and looking for petoskey stones. Found a crab and crawfish while we were looking. The campground was spacious and shaded. Many of the sites were full but it felt mostly private. When we arrived at our site, the previous campers had left us a care package of kindling, newspaper and wood chips to get a fire started, as well as a few logs. We met a woman who was by herself and camping for her very first time. She asked us to teach her how to start a campfire because the YouTube videos she had watched on how to do it weren’t working for her. I hope you keep camping, Molly! The vault toilets were a little run down but clean. Firewood is for sale on the honor system. The wildlife is beyond tame. I know that feeding wildlife is frowned upon, but we had a chipmunk that was relentless. He was bound and determined to eat every Michigan cherry we had, which was a lot. I would return here to camp at any time.

Disappointing rain out

Unfortunately I can’t give this campground the review it may deserve. We tried to camp here In mid- July, but due to recent heavy rains our site was under several inches of water. The campground was crowded and because of the mud, cars were parked anywhere they could to try and not be stuck. The staff were not sympathetic to the fact that our site was under water, and it resulted in our leaving. I don’t mind roughing it out in the rain, but there was no where to put up a tent. We would have needed a houseboat. The Falls were nice but can be enjoyed without camping here. It is the first state park I’ve seen that had a Brew Pub in it. The park seemed overly touristy however with literal busloads of people in and out of the Falls area.

Busy & crowded park

This is a very busy campground that tends to attract mostly RV campers. It is very close to town which is convenient, and has a lot of activities within the campground. There is a playground, swimming beach, firewood for sale, picnic areas, and located on a bike path. For the most part, the park was full of families in RVs that seemed to park in every which way they found convenient. There are a few walk-in tent sites as well. We tent camp, and scored a nice site (#1) right on the water which felt a little bit separated from the mess of large RVs all over the place. The bathhouse was fairly clean, but the showers were always busy. Our site was a little on the small side and trash was left in the fire pit from previous campers. I enjoyed being right on the water, and it was a convenient location as there are not a lot of campgrounds in the nearby area. Unfortunately the park had a very hectic and crowded feeling to it than I usually prefer.