We were a bit nervous about this campground when reading reviews and seeing the location (there is an Impact Incarceration Program that shares the border), but I'm glad we found it. We booked this spot a few weeks in advance for Memorial Day weekend, and honestly we only booked it because it was the only campground left that seemed somewhat acceptable out of campgrounds that accept reservations. I'm glad we did. The location is amazing, it didn't seem as crowded as other campgrounds in Shawnee National Forest, it was well maintained, and had lots of features that range from hiking trails to a swimming pool (and pretty confident a basketball court as well). Even though we did not take advantage of these features, the campsite itself was wonderful. It was exactly what we wanted - a little pine forest to sleep in and get away from the city and take it easy for the weekend. There were lots of kids and other people as expected for the holiday weekend, but that did not interfere with our stay. The campsites are very compacted, but it still feels very personal and private due to all the tree cover and bushes. Additionally, there are bathrooms onsite that are pretty clean, but expect lots of mosquitos on them. Finally, Golconda is only 10 miles away and has a grocery store that was stocked with essentials we forgot and a gas station to fill up.
Here are some of the negatives: LOTS of poison ivy and ticks. Luckily, we expected this and came prepared with tweezers, tick remover, insect repellant, and poison ivy wipes. I gave my dog tick medicine two days prior to our departure, and the tweezers and tick remover came in handy since I was bit despite the ample amounts of insect repellant. The poison ivy is EVERYWHERE. Anywhere you see trees and bushes, there will be poison ivy. It was definitely nerve wracking putting up the hammock and unfortunately did not get to cuddle our dog at all since we were nervous of the possible oils on his fur. Also, their system for reservation is flawed - when we arrived the campsite we booked had a family already all settled in, and luckily we were able to find another available campsite otherwise we'd need to talk to the superintendent and kick that family out in order to get settled in. I would have been incredibly disgruntled if this ended up happening, but luckily the campsite we ended up having was better than the one we originally booked. Could have gone either way though. Finally, cars aren't allowed next to the campsite. We initially parked next to it and the superintendent asked us to move it to the parking lot. Makes it a hassle and is a bit of a bummer, but it was fine.