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garmp
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« on: December 13, 2016, 05:08:32 pm »

OK, just ordered our Cruiser and should be ready March-ish or April-ish. Live in St. Louis area and want to take a leisurely cruise back home, spending a couple of nights here and there along the way. Any suggestions of nice campgrounds, sights to see, things to do along the way. Not asking for a direct route, but rather an interesting one. Got the time, just not the money any more! Prefer state or COE parks to private, but there again we were always "campers" not "RV'ers". We need to break in to this new life style slowly.

Thanks
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2016, 06:57:32 pm »

Hi garmp,

I highly recommend Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.  It offers great views of the Illinois river and has many beautiful quaint canyons.  Strictly avoid weekends to avoid the crowds that flood in from the Chicago area.  The dam and locks there are interesting to tour with a nice viewing platform and museum.  They once gave tours on the dam itself, but after 9/11 they stopped it.  Maybe they re-started.  Utica is a nice town nearby to get eats & treats, and some antique shops too.  The state park campground is in a remote location requiring driving to the actual park, but is close by and very nice wooded and open area sites.  I believe some sites have electricity.  Camping during the week will be no problem with availability.  Weekends the many sites often fill up.....and for a very good reason.  It is a very beautiful park.  The pictures on the web will give you an idea about what I am talking about.

I also recommend Springfield, IL to see Lincoln's tomb, his law practice, and his home there.  I forgot where we camped there for it has been a long time ago for us.

If going through Indiana, I like Turkey Run State Park in Indiana.  The park has very nice day hikes, and a nice area privately run canoe rental experience too.  I suggest to take the longer day canoe trip, not the short 1 or 2 hour trip.  they take you on a bus up stream, drop you off and you canoe through Shades and Turkey Run State Parks, then your are right back where your vehicle is.  It's all down stream.  Even a canoe novice can handle it.

All I mentioned are between Elkhart & St. Louis, and have decent camping.  Google the names to get the scoop on each one.

Ron Dittmer
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 01:05:11 am by ron.dittmer » Logged

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Carol
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2016, 10:48:02 pm »

Hi Garmp,

Here are three state parks in Illinois that I've liked a lot.  All three are super reasonably priced, have lots of trees, and nice areas/paths to walk.  None have sewer hookups but all have a dump station.  Be sure to call ahead to make sure wherever you choose to go is open, especially if you go as early as March.

Kickapoo SRA (off of I-74 near border with Indiana):  Two years ago it was just $20 per night for electric hookup.  My notes say (I have no actual memory remaining of it--thank goodness for notes) that it had great sites, great walks, and that the signals for the TV antenna and Verizon were good.

Wolf Creek State Park (about half way down the state and a bit to the west of I-57):  Also just $20 per night (electric and I think water, too).  Big sites, big park, lots of nice walking.  The campground isn't right on the lake but it's an easy drive if you have your toad with you.  (Later edit--I just realized you'll have a 2100 and it will be easy enough to bop around in that without a toad!)  TV and Verizon pretty good.  (Side note:  I've never stayed there, but on the other side of the lake from Wolf Creek State Park is Eagle Creek SRA.  It also has a campground.  It's part of the same system, so I presume it would be similar to Wolf Creek.)

Ferne Clyffe State Park in southern Illinois off of I-57 just after the I-24 split:  Again, $20 per night for electric and water hookup.  Sites are a little small but overall it's a very charming, sweet park.  Lots of nice walking trails.  TV and Verizon signals good.  There are actually quite a few National Park, State Park and Rec & Wildlife Areas on the southern tip of Illinois.  Some day I'd like to do more exploring there.

Be sure to report back on any gems you find when you get out there.  Meanwhile, have fun planning.  You are in a great part of the country, surrounded by lots of great camping choices!
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 11:16:47 pm by Carol » Logged

garmp
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2016, 05:37:11 pm »

Thanks for the info. Our tentative plans are to head to Fairy Stone State Park, VA, then over to O'Bannon Woods SP, IN and then home. 5 hour is about our max driving time for a day, then a couple of days to recoup!
Hocking Hills is not out of the question, pending reviews/input. In fact we are open most any route/adventure.

thanks
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garmp
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 05:43:20 pm »

Error on my part, we pan to head to Hocking Hills SP and then to O'Bannon Woods SP. Fairy Stone is for a later trip. But still interested in any info about that park also.

sorry.
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RKS
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2016, 04:50:41 pm »

Garmp, we visited Fairy Stone in the late spring of 2014 with our young grandkids.  We found it to be a nice park, sites according to my notes were wooded but close together.  We all enjoyed digging for the fairy stones and did find a few good ones. There is a small lake that the kids enjoyed. 
We drove into the park from the western approach which was hilly, narrow with lots of turns. We left from the eastern side, cannot remember the route numbers, which was much more manageable.
It's a pretty part of Virginia and well worth the visit.
Bob
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garmp
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« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2016, 05:36:29 pm »

Found some info on Cave Run Lake, Ky, which I believe is a Corp lake. Any way there are two different sites I am interested in staying at one or the other: Twin Knobs Campground & Zilpo. Both have fair reviews on RV Reviews and on the reservation site look similar. My question is, does anyone have personal experience with these parks? Is one better than another? And why.
Please keep in mind that as a "camper" of many, many years this will be my first true "RV" experience. Need something quick, easy & enjoyable while I study manuals.
Thanks
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2016, 08:30:10 am »

Hello Garmp, I have no personal RV experience with that area (other than being military over at Fort Knox for a few years - no play time at the lake though.)

It looks like the COE built the lake but the campgrounds and land around it are run by the Forest Service - Daniel Boone National Forest. I pulled your lake up on Google Earth where you can see the camp loops and most of the sites, the beaches, some of the topography around the area and location of services. Zilpo is out there while Twin Knobs is a hop, skip and jump into town as well as close to a marina. I didn't check in depth but a lot of Marinas offer tours of the lake or boat rentals if you are into that. The one with easy access will see heavier use.

I then pulled the campgrounds up on Allstays.com and linked to the USFS site for Zilpo http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/dbnf/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=39322&actid=29 which is open Mid April to Mid October and Twin Knobs which is open Mid March to end of October http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/dbnf/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=39324&actid=29. Your pick-up date might determine your campground since you may be too early for Zilpo. You can link to reviews from Allstays also but be aware Allstays simply does an internet search for that name and random stuff occasionally comes up. Make sure you're looking at the right campground. I like reviews from RVparkreviews and tripadvisor but sometimes check other sites that come up. Remember there are all types of RV'ers so a one star review from someone that doesn't want their feet to ever touch soil may not be a negative for you. Some people are comparing the campground to a resort hotel. We compare it to a tent in a primitive area.

If I have a good internet connection I like to look at the Allstays map for the state and zoom into my chosen area. http://www.allstays.com/Campgrounds/Kentucky-campground-map.htm. Sometimes I find another campground nearby that I prefer. In this instance, I'd be in the forest where you're looking but many people would want the full hook up campgrounds nearby. It just depends on your kind of camping. I also use the map to track along my planned route. Sometimes we don't make it as far as planned and sometimes we decide to just keep on driving. Early spring will narrow your choices though.

Good luck on your planning and enjoy your shakedown. I know when we first hit the road, John needed to know where we would be staying every night for the next few weeks out. But it didn't take us long to start winging it. Many campgrounds have first come first served sites for those without reservations. We call the park and usually get in somewhere. If not, there's always Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Sam's Club, REI, etc. We call ahead, ask if we can stay and they tell us where to park. Not ideal but works as a back up. Many parks have overflow lots also but if it is really cold, you'll be running your furnace and draining your batteries at night then running the generator to recharge during the day... or driving, or plugging in. It's nice to have electric hook ups in cold weather.

We love our Phoenix; it's truly Adventure Anywhere. We were campers also and absolutely love the luxury "camping" we do now. John swears he won't sleep in a tent again (but we carry one just in case we decide to go where RVs can't go.) So life is about to get incredibly sweet for you - ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY!!!!
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2016, 08:59:39 am »

I'm a new owner of a gently used 2012 3100. I'd suggest that you video the walk thru on your cellphone so you can reference it as you begin your adventure. Lots of information to commit to memory. Watch the videos on PC's website before you pick up and have a list of questions ready. You'll also have a complete library of operation manuals for reference.  This forum is a great asset in finding the answer to any lingering questions. We love our PC and I think you will too. Safe travels.
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