Tag Archives: state park

2017 – Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX

2017 – Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX

We have had a nice stay at Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX.  We came to Denison so I could fill in for a pastor friend while he took Sabbatical leave.  The park is located on Lake Texoma and features a large marina and multiple camping areas.  However, only the Bois D’Arc Ridge loop has full hookups.

We enjoyed the beautiful wooded campground with its herd of deer and other assorted wildlife.  The neighborhood roadrunners are comical birds that are especially fun to watch.  The campsites in this area are all pull-throughs, which each site a small loop off the road.  That means everyone’s back is to the road, creating a sense of privacy even when the campground is full.

2017 – Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX – note low tongue on unlevel site

The biggest negative is that many of the sites are rather unlevel both side to side and front to back.  Some are so bad that only a small camper has any reasonable hope of getting level.  Also, in addition to bringing along plenty of leveling blocks be sure to bring extra sewer hose as the connection is seldom in a spot that will let you get level and be close to the sewer connection at the same time.  And, even though the lake is very close by, there are no lake views to speak of.  Toward the end of our stay the trees had dropped enough leaves that the lake could be seen through the forest from a few spots but there was nothing like a real lake view from this camping loop.

2017 – Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX – watch out for hedge apples

I really should mention the hedge apples.  Some of the sites have trees with this softball sized fruit on them.  You certainly don’t want to park your RV under one of those trees in the fall!

I really don’t mean for this to be a negative sounding review.  We like this park a lot.  The staff is friendly and easy to work with.  Unless you arrive on a busy weekend, they will let you drive around and pick a site rather than stay in the one assigned.  Also, if they know you are in a bigger rig they will try to assign you one of the longer, somewhat more level spots.

The campground is just a few minutes from Denison with its restaurants, Walmart, and about any other business you might need.

You can see individual photos here

2017 – Wilson State Park, KS

20170912_183147.jpg 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.

20170914_193854.jpg 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 – 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.

IMG_6088.JPG 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.

20170905_175843.jpg 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.

IMG_6253.JPG 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 – Farm Island State Recreation Area, Pierre, SD

20170818_145911.jpg After driving nearly 200 miles across the corn and hay fields of the South Dakota Prairie we dropped into the Missouri River Valley and arrived at a beautiful lakeside campground on the outskirts of Pierre, SD. Farm Island Recreation Area is a pretty spot with large, level sites and 50 amp electrical hookups. There is a convenient water and dump station near the entrance. We arrived, happily with reservations, on an August Friday afternoon and the campground was nearly full. There were many families and the kids had a blast swimming in the lake. The lake is fed by the Missouri River. It has a sandy bottom and is pretty shallow for a good distance out – making it perfect for children. Because of the layout of the campground only a fourth of the sites are by the water. Because of that, people pretty much walk through those sites to get to the lake. I know some people get bent out of shape when that happens, but at this campground it’s just the way it is. We smiled and said “hello” and they smiled in return. By Sunday evening, though, that was all over. The place was nearly empty and we pretty much had the campground to ourselves the rest of our stay.

20170818_141312.jpg Here are a few things you might want to know if you plan on visiting Farm Island. In addition to the camping fee there is a South Dakota State Parks vehicle entry fee of $6 a day. Since we were intending to stay four days and then visit Custer State Park later on we got a $30 annual pass instead. There is also a $7.50 out of state booking fee. I had no problem getting satellite TV which is a good thing because I don’t think there was any over the air TV. My Verizon signal was solid. When I tested the water with our TDS meter it reported numbers as high as 1000. That’s really high and at the limit of what is considered fit for human consumption. I suggest you bring drinking water. Finally, the flies are real pests throughout this area. Be prepared to defend yourself unless the wind is blowing.

20170821_123147.jpg Our final day at Farm Island was “eclipse day.” We woke to a severe thunderstorm that was pretty scary – wind, hail, and a downpour. Really, we should have bugged out to one of the shower houses. However, the storm was on us before we knew it. After 10 or 15 minutes of (thankfully) small hail, things let up. We feared the heavy clouds would block our view of the eclipse which was at nearly 90% for the area. However, at just the right time the skies cleared and we had a good view of the impressive display of God’s handiwork.

2017 – Beeds Lake State Park, Hampton, IA

20170719_204403.jpg We were at Beeds Lake State Park in Hampton, Iowa a couple of years ago and I did a review on it then. Things are the same as they were then, so this will be another short review. We had a back in site on our previous visit, but this time we ended up in a “parallel parking” site. We were here before over Independence Day and the place was packed. This time we arrived during the county fair which takes place close by and the place was full once again. Our parallel parking site worked out just fine, although I chose it because it was on the end of the row and with a bit more elbow room than most. The 50 amp electric was solid and restrooms and showers were okay. I had a decent 4G signal until each evening. At that point the signal was strong enough but I think all the fair goers were overloading the system. Because of trees I was unable to get the Dish western arc satellites so I swapped out LNB’s and aimed for the eastern arc which I got with no problems.

Our feeling about Beeds Lake is about the same as it was before: it’s a nice spot if you are okay with electric only, an odd parking setup, and being 10 miles or so off of I35.

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