Sunday, July 11, 2021

Different Kind of July 4 Celebration and Driving Around Kansas Camp Sites

Driving on July 4 Holiday Across Damn
July 4 celebration was a little different for Carrie and I this year than previous years. We decided a few weeks ahead of the holiday that we would drive around Kansas to look at camp sites. This was really more to help our our dog, Oliver, who is afraid of thunder, loud noises, and especially fireworks. We thought it would be a good way for us to check out various camp sites and also get Oliver out of the house and away from our neighborhood where fireworks can go off into the late hours of the night.

We started off visiting Cross Timbers State Park located on Toronto Lake in Woodson County. We drove around looking at various locations and found a few good spots. The first camp site we visited, Manns Cove Camp Site, was not ideal as we could not see the lake from the camp site, but we found other locations that would work. Good views of the lake and tree coverage to keep us cool tent camping. 

As we reviewed the spaces, we thought about making a trip to Cross Timbers State Park in the fall to see the lake and tree coverage. Toronto Lake is in the woods with heavy tree foliage, so we thought a fall visit would be fun to see the area, hike, and camp in cool temperatures. We noticed a few different spots to hike while we were driving around, so that was interesting to see and something to look forward to check out in the future.

Fall River Lake Spillway
The next camp site we checked was located at Fall River Lake and included the Fall River State Park. Traveling to Fall River State Park from Cross Timbers State Park took us deep into Kansas countryside. Cell signal completely stopped working, but luckily, our GPS continued to work and had us going through fields, gravel roads, and single lane dirt roads as we passed by fields and country houses. 

We really liked this camp site and had fun looking around the spillway that was partially open as every lake we looked at during the day was way above their normal lake levels. Some areas were completely covered with water or could not access the area we wanted to check, but we were able to see all of the spots we wanted.

We found Fall River State Park various sites that we would love to check out in the future. The camp sites at this location, as well as the first site, were not nearly as crowded as we thought they would be on a holiday. They were busy, but not overrun with campers. Both sites included many RVs but the primitive sites were not busy at all. It was nice though as we were doing the whole day to get Oliver out of the house so he would not have to hear fireworks that all State camp sites prohibit fireworks, so that was nice we did not have to worry about loud booms while we were in the various camp sites.

Fall River Lake Flooded Area We Visited

We found a nice little trail to follow down to the water and the state had done a lot of work to make the trail accessible by all. A path where a wheel chair could get down to the water although it was still being worked on and washed out from the flooding, it appeared as though they were going to pour cement and make it accessible all the way to the dock. With flooding, the path to the dock was underwater (picture to the left), but we could see how they were making progress and going to have it be a nice set up with wheel chair paths all the way to the dock. 

We will be back to visit the Fall River State Park site in the future. We enjoyed the area, the camp sites, and views from the sites we visited.

Our final site to visit for the day was located at El Dorado Lake. El Dorado State Park is the largest State Park in Kansas. We had about a 40 minute drive from Fall River State Park to El Dorado State Park.  Carrie drove while Oliver and I snoozed. Of the three lakes we reviewed through the day, I was excited to be at El Dorado Lake. I had driven over it for years when going to Wichita to visit my sister over the years and always liked how the highway went over the lake. It was fun seeing the camp sites. Again, we found that on this holiday, RV sites were crowded, but primitive camp sites were mostly open. 

Carrie and I Doing a Picnic at El Dorado State Park
Carrie and I stopped at an open camp site to have a picnic. Like the other two lakes, the area was flooded and so the camp site we found in primitive camping was not reserved or we thought was not an option to reserve. The grill for the site was partially in the water, so it was a perfect spot for us to spend a while enjoying the cool July 4 weather at the lake.

We had cheese, crackers, and grapes. It was perfect! I could have spent a longer time at the lake, but we wanted to try and see my sister in Andover. We had not given them any heads up as we were not sure of our schedule from going from lake-to-lake, so we ended up not being able to connect with them. We headed on home after finishing the site review at El Dorado State Park as we were unable to meet up with Jen and her family.

We had a great time on our July 4 camp site visits. We left the house later than we had expected as we left about 1. We got back to Topeka around 10:30 that evening. It was a wonderful drive back as we could see fireworks being fired from El Dorado, Emporia, and Topeka. 

El Dorado Lake Camp Site Looking Out at Lake

What a wonderful time spent driving around the state of Kansas. We enjoyed our time together as we searched out future camp sites. I think we found some good options for next fall/spring and look forward to being able to visit them in the future. Carrie and I talked about our camping at El Dorado State Park that we would be able to invite Jen and Kent out to our camp site to eat with us. I think it sounds like a fun time and look forward to being able to do so in the near future.

What Kansas camp sites have you visited? Which ones do you like? Any recommendations for us to check out in our future camping adventures?

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