Paint Creek State Park

Paint Creek State Park

Once again, it seems have accidentally found a gem in Ohio. I’m not sure how long it would have taken us to find Paint Creek State Park otherwise, but this was the campground closest to the Highlands Nature Sanctuary – headquarters for the Arc of Appalachia Wildflower Pilgrimage.

Reservations weren’t accepted this early in the season, but we arrived a bit before dinner on Friday and got a prime spot along the water. These sites come with a surcharge, but I can’t think of a better way to spend $10 than to be right on the water. These premium sites also feature a deck for eating.img_7634 Continue reading “Paint Creek State Park”

Key Largo Kampground

Key Largo Kampground

It seems many families have a vacation spot that generations return to year after year. There may be a cabin in the woods, a city on a beach, or a house on a lake. Our family has Key Largo. My grandparents started visiting when the island was little more than mangroves and mosquitoes. I first visited almost 30 years ago and have returned close to every year since. We have stayed in a large proportion condos complexes and hotels on the island. We even rented a trailer once, but nothing was ideal. So this year we were thrilled to be able to bring our very own trailer to one of our favorite spots.

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Admittedly, it is very hard for us to be objective about a place that is so sentimental. I have wonderful memories of swimming off the beaches or sunning on the docks in nearly every stage of my life. But visiting as a recent blog-writer allowed me to view the campground with an outsider’s lens. And I feel that I must share some of downsides of the campground. Continue reading “Key Largo Kampground”

A quick tour of Ohio State Parks

A quick tour of Ohio State Parks

We don’t always get three day weekends in February, but when we do, we camp!

We weren’t sure exactly where we wanted to go, but we wanted to go somewhere for a hectic, but fun winter trip.

A quick scan of eBird lead us to decide that Maumee Bay might be our best bet for a destination with a potential of a Yellow-headed blackbird. We worked too late on Friday to make it all the way north, so we overnighted at Van Buren State Park.

It was a great distance from Cincinnati – just over two hours. But this may have been the smallest state park I have ever seen with a campground. A total of 29 non-equestrian sites were available, about half with electric. Although the surrounding area was cornfields and a few houses, the place had a pretty creepy vibe on arrival. We filled our water tank and opted for the first site – 38.

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I walked to the office/nature center/hut to check in. There was a single check-in packet and it seemed to have withstood a fair amount of weather. Continue reading “A quick tour of Ohio State Parks”

Brown County State Park

Brown County State Park

Camping in January? Of course! Last year we took advantage of a warm weekend to tent camp in January. This year, weeks of the flu, record cold, and snow made for some pretty severe cabin fever and any above freezing daytime temps suddenly seemed like great weather.

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Winter camping can be tricky for many reasons, not least of which is the major shutdowns that happens at campgrounds during the off-season. Surprisingly, many campgrounds don’t do a great job communicating the degree to which they will be open. A few state and national agencies seem to do their best to discourage winter camping, but not the Indiana DNR. They provide a fantastic PDF on winter camping detailing the amenities that will be available at each state park campground. A few minutes of cross-referencing this list with a couple hiking resources and mapping sites made Brown County State Park an easy choice. How have we not yet visited the “Little Smokies”? Continue reading “Brown County State Park”

Middle Fork Campground

Middle Fork Campground

Red River Gorge has been our favorite weekend camping and hiking spot for years and we make an effort to visit at least a couple times a year. Earlier we wrote about how much we enjoyed Whittleton Campground, but the winter season begins November 1 for the Kentucky State Park system and Whittleton shuts down immediately. Fortunately, Middle Fork is only about a mile away and stays open until mid-November.

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Middle Fork is always a less preferred campground for us. Route 11 runs immediately above the sites and traffic noise persists throughout the night. The bathhouses are nice and relatively clean, but located at distance (and over a hill) from the tent sites. And many of the sites are awkwardly placed. So this was our first attempt at camping there with the trailer. And we soon discovered a couple other quirks of which campers should be aware. Continue reading “Middle Fork Campground”

Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills is considered by many to be the ultimate hiking and camping destination in Ohio. The falls, caves, and overlooks are exceptionally stunning. We have hiked in the region for years and greatly enjoyed the campground during our annual family camp out. It has long been a goal to visit the park during the splendor of the fall. The campground is very popular and was full well in advance of the weekend, but consistent checking for cancellations eventually landed us a prime spot. In fact it was the exact spot we had in the spring!

hockinghillscampground Continue reading “Hocking Hills State Park”