2017 – Lake Texoma Thousand Trails – Gordonville, TX

In spite of Texas late September summer-like temperatures, we enjoyed our stay at Lake Texoma Thousand Trails, Gordonville, TX. We were last here in May, 2013 and the campground is about the same as it was then. We appreciated the ranger giving us a list of vacant full hookup, 50 Amp sites that were available, I think there were 8 or 9. We picked the one that looked good to us and settled into a large, level, gravel site. There’s a $3 a night surcharge for 50 Amps – in fact, the power pedestals for those sites are padlocked until the surcharge is paid. This Thousand Trails has both a large “family” pool and Activity Center and a smaller Adult pool with spa and Adult Activity Center. There are many annual campsites that have been improved in various ways by the residents. A surprising number of the residents light their sites at night with “running lights” whether or not they are present. However, if a person arrives looking for a 30 Amp full hookup site they would have many nice spots from which to choose. The roads in the campground are typical Thousand Trails: read rough and pothole filled.

All Lake Texoma Thousand Trails reviews are here

We had no problem getting a satellite signal and our Verizon signal was a solid 4G.

Our arrival day at Lake Texoma was a difficult travel day for us in which a tire on the pickup came apart, doing considerable damage to the pickup. As a result the pickup was in need of repairs and we needed to travel to Houston to pick up our car so we would have transportation during the repairs. The campground management worked with us as we dealt with these unexpected, unwelcome circumstances. We did shorten our stay by a few days as we needed to time our relocation days with the repairs.

One strange coincidence is that the last time we visited Lake Texoma Thousand Trails we had a tire begin to delaminate as we traveled. We had to stop and buy two new tires. Here we are four years later and, as we traveled to the campground we had a tire (likely one of those bought on that day in 2013) come apart, forcing us to stop and buy four new tires. It almost makes us afraid to schedule Lake Texoma Thousand Trails again!

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2017 – Shortstop: Roadrunner RV Park, Oklahoma City, OK


Roadrunner RV Park in Oklahoma City, OK gets good reviews and we agree. While this is no tranquil, picturesque campground it is a clean, efficient, well-planned urban RV Park. The roads are good and the campsites, while not spacious, are big enough. Most sites are pull through spots that, again, are just long enough. There’s nice grass between sites and excellent utility hookups. The park has a new office and meeting space. The restrooms are as nice as you’ll find. We didn’t hook up to the cable TV but the WiFi performed well except for an overnight issue that was resolved the next morning. The campground even has new underground tornado shelters.

The campground has recently expanded and with that expansion a new entrance was added. Access is now right off of the I35 north feeder road. Just watch for the big campground sign. This is, of course, Oklahoma City so there is both traffic and the noise it brings. There is also the convenience of being close to most everything. The price reflects the location, but, really we’ve paid more. If you need a spot in OKC, this is it.

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2017 – Coon Creek Cove Campground – Kaw City, OK

Coon Creek Cove Campground is a Corps of Engineers campground located on Kaw Lake, just east of Ponca City, OK. The campground is situated on a finger of land, affording water views to nearly every campsite. Several have water access. The campground roads are paved and the sites are gravel. Each site has a covered picnic table and fire pit. They are reasonably level, mostly with shade, and 30 amp electric and water. There are no full hookup spots. We arrived on a weekend and the place was nearly full with lots of people fishing, boating, and jet skiing. Several children were playing in the water. By Sunday night most everyone had left and there were lots of prime sites available to travelers. Generally speaking, the sites looking out over the lake itself are on a bluff. Those on the cove are closer to water level. We were mildly disappointed that the weeds between us and the lake on our bluff side spot were tall enough to obstruct what would have been great lake views.

I had no problem getting satellite TV and my Verizon 4G was weak but usable.

Probably the biggest negative to this campground is getting to it. It is about 30 miles from I35 and the roads get increasingly rough, narrow, and hilly as you travel. Whether or not traveling these roads is worthwhile for you depends on how long you plan to stay and how much you enjoy a lakeside campground.

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2017 – Wilson State Park, KS

We spent four nights at Wilson State Park located in central Kansas, not far from I70. I had to smile as I realized we were in the “Hell Creek” area, but camped near Tatanka Lodge, a large shelter where church services are conducted through the summer months. This portion of the state park has a cluster of campgrounds scattered in the hills surrounding a pretty lake. The steep hills don’t match the traditional view of flat land Kansas! In our case, though, the wind very much did fit the Kansas stereotype. We had lots of hot, dry wind with gusts rocking the camper and blowing one lawn chair clear across the road. Obviously, this isn’t an everyday occurrence, but we dealt with the wind (at times over 40 mph!) our entire stay.

There are only a few full hookup sites in this part of the state park and we were happily settled into one of them. Like most places, there were very few campers present during the week, but things got busier over the weekend when every spot, including camping cabins were booked. One thing you might want to know is that above the camping fee there’s a $5 a day entry fee. There’s a nearby Corps of Engineers campground with, I think, electric only that might be a better short stay.

I had no problem getting a satellite signal – keeping it was a different thing, as the strong winds tended to move the dish just enough to disrupt the signal. During one especially strong blast associated with a passing thunderstorm one of the guy wires I had put on it snapped. My Verizon had a weak but usable signal.

We enjoyed the star-lit nights and beautiful sunsets over the lake. The near record temperatures and constant winds rocking the camper, though, kept us inside through much of the day. Had the weather been more enjoyable I think we would have been quite satisfied with this stop. The weather, though, caused us to look forward to calmer, cooler days elsewhere.

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2017 – Shortstop: Holiday RV Park, North Platte, NE

We had an unexpected stay at Holiday RV Park in North Platte, NE. As we traveled across I80 our F350 pickup had a problem that needed attention. We spotted this campground and decided to stay there while our pickup visited the local Ford dealer. This campground is very convenient to those traveling I80, located right on the frontage road. In spite of its nearness to the interstate, the highway noise wasn’t especially objectionable. All the sites are pull-through with full hook ups, including cable. Park WiFi was pretty good. There’s a pool that looks nice. The campground is sandwiched between some commercial buildings and a motel. Walmart and most any business you need is just a few minutes away. The sites are close but not tight. I felt that it was overpriced, in fact, the price I paid matched our highest nightly stay of the year. However, in this case it was all about location. Happily, our after a few hours in the shop and a swipe of the credit card our pickup was road ready again.

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2017 – Shortstop: Robidoux RV Park; Gering, NE


I was looking for a campground for a short stop in the Nebraska panhandle and Robidoux RV Park turned out to be a great choice. The campground is in Gering, near Scotts Bluff National Monument. Many of the sites are long pull-throughs with full hookups. The sites are spacious. My Verizon had good 4G but we ended up using the campground WiFi which performed well for us. I had no problem getting the satellite signal, although the “nothing on the grass” rule made setting up the dish tripod a challenge. You’ll likely want reservations at this RV Park: from what I could see, the campground was full each of the three nights of our mid-September stay.

2017 – Scotts Bluff National Monument, NE


We enjoyed our visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument. At the visitor’s center we looked at the displays and watched an informative video. This distinctive formation was in Indian Territory and a landmark well known to many tribes. The pioneers followed the North Platte River as they journeyed westward. They could see these formations for days as they traveled across the prairie. This route is known as the Oregon Trail and was also part of the Mormon Trail. The Pony Express also rode through the area. As many travelers before us, we could see the Bluff as arrived in the area, and as travelers have for generations, we camped near the base of Scotts Bluff. Unlike those early travelers, though, we drove a twisting road through tunnels and with increasing vistas to the top. The view is amazing. We walked to various overlooks, thoroughly enjoying the scenery spread out below. I’m glad we were able to visit a place we have heard of most of our lives.

2017 – Black Hills Monuments – Rushmore and Crazy Horse


Mount Rushmore is spectacular and I would come again to see this monument honoring our country. The size and detail are amazing in the daytime and beautiful at night. After dark we saw a short movie about the monument, heard stories from a park ranger, and watched the lowering of the American flag by ex-servicemen from the audience. This monument is cared for by the National park Service and includes a visitors’ center, gift shops, and museum where we watched a movie telling the story of how it all came about. The artist, Gutzon Borglum, was a first generation American of Danish decent. He began the project in 1925 and it was completed by his son Lincoln shortly after his father’s death in 1941.

Black Hills, SD – Crazy Horse Memorial” type=”image” alt=”20170906_195341.jpg” ] We also enjoyed going to the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is a family owned monument and the ongoing work of Korczak Ziolkowski and his family. There are American Indian artifacts and items on display as well as a gift shop and a restaurant. Ziolkowski and his wife have passed on but his children continue the sculpting. We were lucky enough to be there for not only one of the nightly laser light shows but also one the two nighttime dynamite blasts that are done each year. Although it was extremely crowded we found indoor seating that allowed a great view of the light show and blasting. We’ve never seen anything like the blasting, as over 100 charges were set off in rapid succession, each one with a “boom” and fiery flash of light.

Both of these monuments are worth a visit and both should be visited in the early evening so they can be seen in both daylight and under lighting.

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2017 – Black Hills, SD Scenic Drives


There are some terrific drives in the Black Hills. We saw many on motorcycles which Scott thinks would be the perfect way to see the area. We, though, did it all in our Ford F350. We had some tight fits, but thousands of people enjoy these drives in all kinds of vehicles each year.

Iron Mountain Road runs between Mt. Rushmore National Memorial and Custer State Park. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable drive with winding roads with glimpses of Mount Rushmore which is framed by the tunnels. This drive has the famous pigtail bridges and wonderful Black Hills scenery. I really enjoyed stopping at a pull off and getting my first real glimpse of Mount Rushmore if only at a distance.

The state park’s Wildlife Loop road is another fun drive. It takes you through open grasslands and hills where much of the park wildlife live. There were cute prairie dogs popping in and out their holes as traffic continues by. We saw pronghorn antelope out in the field and a herd of burros (descended from the burros of years gone by which were used to transport visitors to the top of Black Elk Peak). When the rides were discontinued years ago the burros were released into park. The burros have become expert beggars. We watched as two of them went to a small car and stuck their heads in wanting food. The colts were cute but when people didn’t feed them they wandered down the road and back into the meadow area. Of course, the main wildlife attraction at Custer is the buffalo herds. We were amazed at the size of the animals. We saw several groups including some with calves coming down for water. A very pleasant drive.

Custer State Park has a long history and many buildings. We drove past the current State Game lodge, a beautiful building opened in 1922. We saw buildings that the CCC built in the 1930’s. My favorite stop was the home of Badger Clark, South Dakota’s first poet Laureate. He cut the trees, hauled the rocks and built the home himself and it is just as he left it in 1957 when he died. His poetry and books are the story of a man living an independent life. An interpreter is on site giving tours daily June through Labor Day.

Another fun drive was Needles Highway with its narrow tunnels. Most are single lane so must be approached with caution. We went through one called “keyhole” that was so narrow that Scott pulled the side mirrors in. We enjoyed seeing formations that look like needles made of granite. There are many picturesque vistas to be enjoyed.

These drives are so scenic that I know they can be driven again and again as they showcase the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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2017 – Heartland RV Park, Hermosa, SD


Heartland RV Park is located in Hermosa, SD – a few miles south of Rapid City and about 15 minutes from one of the entrances to Custer State Park. This is a large, well-laid-out park. Sites and roads are good gravel and site spacing is close but not quite on top of one another. Most of the sites are just long enough for the camping unit but plenty of parking is across the road from the campsites. The campground has decent WiFi, cable TV, a pool, and laundry rooms. There’s a camp store and a new activity building is just being completed. Also it looks as if the campground itself is being expanded. The staff is constantly out and about, keeping things in good shape.

The location itself is interesting because it is at the edge of the Black Hills which are mostly hidden from view because of the terrain. The immediate vicinity of the campground is treeless, rolling hills but within a couple of minutes of the campground the beauty of the area is plainly visible just to the west and within minutes of leaving the campground and heading west you are driving through it all. Rapid City is an easy 20 miles away.

For us, the campground struck a balance between being close to the state park, but with full hookups and an easy drive versus being right in the middle of it all but either being in the state park with electric only or driving through twisting, sometimes steep grades to a commercial campground in the Black Hills. Also, this park has the distinction of accepting Passport America and Escapees half price rates with no stay limit or blackout dates. You definitely want one of these two memberships if you are going to stay here.

Aside from being just slightly outside the beauty of the Black Hills the only other negative is the constant noise from highway 79, the primary north/south route in the area. Our site was in the row farthest from the highway so the noise wasn’t quite as bad as it was in the rows along the highway. The traffic is 24/7 so it is something you have to make peace with during a stay at this campground.

We found this to be a good spot for us as a place to stay while exploring the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

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