220689 User submitted reviews online!!
10/2013
rating [ 8/10 ]
Trout fishing is the big draw here. It is an extremely popular park and people come from all over the midwest to stay here. We don't fish, but really enjoyed hiking the trails, and watching the fishermen. It is one of the few parks in Missouri where the restaurant is open during the week during the fishing season-- March 1- Oct 31, so that was a bonus for us. As other reviewers have pointed out, Loop 1 is near the river, with Loops 2 and 3 further up a large hill, and Loops 4 and 5 even higher and further up the hill. The full hookups are in loop 1, and are reserved well in advance. We stayed in loop 5, which is all first come, first served. It had some nice, private sites, but the restroom in this loop had not been remodeled, as had the ones in the other loops. In our loop wi-fi was available but so slow we abandoned trying to use it. The park is immaculately maintained, and the nature center was interesting. The dining lodge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), along with some of the pavilions and the river gauge. Bennett Spring itself was beautiful, with a flow of over 100 million gallons a day. Our rate reflects electric only hookup, and a $2 resident disability discount.
09/2013
rating [ 9/10 ]
This is a fairly typical COE campground, which is to say it was excellent, an incredible value for the money. We stayed for only one night, during the week, and so got a fabulous lakefront site on the end of a peninsula. The park appears very popular, due to its proximity to Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City. Most of the spots were reserved for the upcoming weekend. Lot of boats out on the lake, including several large sailboats. Our rate reflects a Golden Access discount.
09/2013
rating [ 7/10 ]
This was a pleasant place to stay, not far from I-70. It's run by the town, and it was an easy walk to the main street. We were hoping to eat out, but apparently only the pizza place is open at night, and we were there on a Wednesday: their night to close. But we did walk to the grocery and got something to microwave. Went back the next morning and had a pleasant breakfast at the cafe. (They are only open breakfast and lunch.) The police did not stop by for our camp fee, so we stopped by city hall to pay on our way out. Everyone was so very nice and friendly and happy to see us.
08/2013
rating [ 9/10 ]
Ansel Watrous is the first in a series of NF campgrounds located along Colorado Hwy 14 as you drive up the Poudre River canyon from "Ted's Place". We stayed in the "upper loop" as it is more RV friendly. (The "lower loop" has a hairpin curve at the entrance that restricts access to shorter rigs.) The lower loop had 7 RV sites and 3 tent sites, and each of the sites back to the Cache la Poudre River. The lower loop was long and narrow and sandwiched between Hwy 14 and the river. Fortunately the noise of the river masked the highway noise. We were disappointed that the Young Gulch trail, located just across the road was still closed due to the 2012 forest fires, but the friendly hosts directed us to the very pleasant Hewlett Gulch and Greyrock Mountain trails located down the road. Also located nearby is Mishawaka, where we had a very pleasant meal on their deck over the river. It is also a popular venue for concerts. The campsites were level and spacious. The hosts kept everything neat and tidy. Rafters use the river, and fishing is very popular. Our rate reflects the golden access discount.
08/2013
rating [ 9/10 ]
All the previous reviewers are spot on. This is a lovely out of the way oasis. The spots are well spaced and very level. We backed to the creek and had wonderful shade. The vault toilets were very clean. There is water available, but without a threaded spigot, so come with a full tank. There is no dumpstation either. Our price reflects the golden access discount.
08/2013
rating [ 5/10 ]
We stayed in "Area A", as this is where the only showerhouse and dump station was located. The area had very few trees, and was hot and windswept. There were 30Amp hookups, but the "sites" were ill defined. Each electrical post had receptacles for 4 campers to hookup, and you just park however you can to hookup. Very strange.. The coin-op showers were clean and appreciated. We were here the Wednesday night prior to Labor Day weekend, and rigs were arriving steadily. There are dirt roads leading off to remote areas, and people with large rigs were heading down them. Area A was high above the lake, and we walked down to check out the boat ramp and the view. There were several dirt roads leading to remote campfire rings on the shoreline. We passed "Area B" when leaving the next morning, and it looked a little more inviting. The electric sites in "Area A" did not have a lake view.
08/2013
rating [ 9/10 ]
It is worth the effort to leave the interstate and visit this gem of a park. The campground is part of the Rock Creek Station State Historical Park, which preserves and interprets the role this "station" played on the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express. The ranger was very accomdating and opened the historic buildings for us early. The campground is connected by trail to the visitor center and station buildings. The campground itself was a shady oasis on the extremely hot day we were there. The paved pads were level, and the restrooms were immaculate. The host was welcoming too! A nice touch were the gorgeous flowers outside the shower house, and the handmade birdhouses at many of the sites. We'll be back to explore more of the trails.
08/2013
rating [ 8/10 ]
This was our first visit back in 20+ years. The trees that were planted in the campground are now mature and provide a pleasant shady canopy. Around 30 sites are reservable and the remaining 50 are first come, first served. Some of these are sunny, which would be good off season, or if you need satellite reception. This is a popular park, and while we stayed Tuesday and Wednesday nights without a reservation, by checkout on Thursday it was starting to fill. The park is Illinois' largest, at 8000 acres. The lodge, cabins, and restaurant were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) in the 1930s and is known for it's fried chicken dinners. We went for breakfast, had a great omelette and enjoyed watching all the hummingbirds! The hiking was great, several trails to overlooks of the oxbow lakes and the Illinois River. The park also has a boat ramp and slips on the river. Maybe next time we'll take our kayaks, as there wasn't too much current in the river. We took our bikes so we could use the bike trail and ride to Grafton, about 6 miles each way. Grafton is neat with lots of waterfront restaurants. There was also horseback riding available in the park. If you go, consider riding one of the ferries from Missouri. We rode over on the Golden Eagle Ferry (Missouri to Calhoun County, IL across the Mississippi--toll) and the Brussels Ferry (across the IL river, free!). Going home we rode the longer Grafton Ferry (across the confluence of the Mississippi and IL rivers- also a toll). It cuts the driving time down to St. Louis and is fun!!
06/2013
rating [ 8/10 ]
Our first time camping here in many years, and we had a very pleasant midweek stay. Previous reviewers have commented about the steep hills which we also experienced on our way in. However, after talking to a frequent camper to the park, we found out about another route. We decided to go out this way. The park can be entered from Hwy KK from the north, and these hills weren't quite so windy and steep! We'll definitely return next time this way, even though it is longer. The campground has four loops, each with a different flavor. The most woodsy and private are the two loops that have basic sites with no hookups. At the end of each of these is a long staircase (100+ steps) that descends to "Lake Lincoln" and the foot trail that encircles it. If you hike counter clockwise from the campground you come to the beach area. The basic sites area has water spigots throughout and a vault toilet at the end of one of the loops. A third loop has electric only, and these sites are a little less private, but shaded nonetheless. This is where the only shower house is located, and the 3 pull throughs. There is a gate at the end of this loop that separates the general campground from the scout area-- at the end of this loop is a third staircase down to the lake, and the most direct walking route to the beach. The fourth loop is laid out on a grid, the sites are more densely packed, but these sites are full hookup. This area does not have a showerhouse, but does have flush toilets. The dump station is located in this area. The restrooms were cleaned daily, and the hosts showed up to pick up and check sites after people checked out. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Our rate reflects a $2/night handicapped discount and was for an electric only site.
06/2013
rating [ 8/10 ]
What a pleasant surprise this campground was-- we practically had it entirely to ourselves. It was hard to choose a campsite-- they were all long, level and shaded, plus each one had a level area for a tent. In addition to the parking spur, fire ring and picnic table, each site had a counter height table with a shelf above that, all sheltered by a roof, where you could do your meal prep. There was no electricity or dump station. Vault toilets were located throughout the campground. There were several water spigots and some were threaded so you could fill your tank. The campground has a trail that lets you access the 12-mile hike/bike trail that encircles the lake. We used this trail to reach the boat launch where they had a nice shady, waterfront picnic area. Further down the trail (or accessible by car) was a lovely beach area that appeared to be locally popular. The beach restroom did have flush toilets and coin operated showers. The lake is 440 acres and has a no wake rule. There is also pedestrian access from this lake-front trail to the Trace Creek section of the Ozark Trail--- Missouri's long distance hiking trail. The campground has 39 single sites, 7 double sites, 9 walk-in tent sites, and 4 group sites. Some of these are available for reservation on recreation.gov. Our rate reflected the access pass discount, but there is no discount on the double sites.
06/2013
rating [ 8/10 ]
The campsites were in amazing shape considering that the Meramec River had flooded recently. It has been at least 15 years since we have camped here and the trees in the campground have matured nicely so that nearly every site is shaded. As the previous reviewer stated, you cannot see the river any longer as the vegetation has grown up. But with a short walk upstream there is nice river access. In the vicinity of the campground the banks are steep and dangerous. This park is popular as it is close to St. Louis and everyone comes down to rent canoes from the on-site outfitter and "float" down the river. They take you upstream in a bus and you float back to the campground at leisure. This service is offered daily during the summer, and on the week ends during the spring and fall. There are cabins and motel rooms for rent, and a grill that we found out is only open Thurs- Sun. Fisher Cave is located at the campground, in fact its entrance is a storm shelter. It is no longer open for tours in 2013 due to the white nose syndrome that is spreading through the bat population. We'll be back, but during the week when it is less crowded. Our rate was for an electric only site and reflects a $2 disability discount.
05/2013
rating [ 7/10 ]
A very nice wooded state park and recreation area surrounding a 585 acre lake. The lake has several fingers and is popular for fishing and boating. The campground has access to the marina via a short trail from the end of the reservable loop, and then by walking across a floating bridge. One of the two boat ramps is located there. The restaurant at the marina was not yet open for the season, but they were getting ready to open. The campground itself is very shady, and the sites were clearly defined and surfaced with pea gravel. That said, the electric hookups are doubles and shared with the neighboring site. So you had best come prepared with lots of extension cords if you pick your site unseen from the online map. Water pumps are dispersed throughout the campground and are for communal use. There is one shower house with flush toilets, but 6 sets of vault toilets. One camping cabin was available to rent. The other two first-come, first-served loops have a staircase down the steep slope to the lake with a small floating dock at the bottom. However, the one next to our site, was blocked off and closed. The lake would be ideal for exploring via kayak. Hiking was available, but it was wet and muddy, so we didn't check out the trails.
05/2013
rating [ 9/10 ]
Our rate reflects the golden access discount. This is a popular campground with many retirees staying the full 14 days. Some of the sites are waterfront, and reserved well in advance. There are 2 shower houses, the one closest to the fee booth is the one we used, and very modern, clean and immaculate. We checked out the other one and it was rather skanky. We really enjoyed riding the bike trail-- rode down to the South Sandusky Campground, the beach and the marina. The bike trail wound through the woods on nice new, smooth cement. We enjoyed our stay immensely and will return.
04/2013
rating [ 8/10 ]
We enjoyed our midweek stay at Giant City State Park. The grounds were clean and well kept, and the restrooms and showers were also nice. As it was April, and somewhat rainy, there were only about 4 other rigs there, so we didn't need a reservation and we could choose our own site. There was no host there, but a very friendly ranger stopped by between 5 and 6 to collect our money. There is no screening between sites, but they are all shady. If you want more privacy, get one on the edge of the campground that backs to the woods. In addition to the 85 RV sites there were maybe 12 walk in tent sites. There was one restroom building for the campground, but 2 other "vault toilets". There are water spigots in several locations. The park has very good hiking, and the campground is the trail head for the 12 mile long Red Cedar Trail. This trail also connects with a 12 mile long horse trail that can be hiked. In general, there are lots of trails out there, and a short one leads from site 20 to a fishing pond. Also, just down the campground road is a launching ramp to the Little Grassy Lake, part of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. We will definitely come back and bring our kayaks. No review would be complete without mentioning the CCC built lodge in the park that serves a dynamite family style fried chicken dinner. (The lodge is not close to the campground,-- about 2 miles.) $20 was for an RV site, tent sites were cheaper, and there may be a discount for Illinois residents.
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