Photo Above: Kernodle’s Kampfire Bacon
The first few camping trips of the season can be some of the best, but also some of the most frustrating.
Wildflowers are blooming along the trails, Indiana humidity hasn’t yet set in, but did we get all pink stuff into the faucets for winter or will the first toilet flush blow a gasket again? Will I remember which way to turn the wheel when backing the trailer into a site or will the threatening sound of “bite me” come across the 2-way radio?
I recall an early camping trip at McCormick’s Creek State Park alone in the campground with only one other unknown camper close by, winter weary raccoons lurking under the pop-up and my dear husband leaving me with a hunting knife and a wine cooler for self-defense. Not a good mix!
So, when you are ready to head out into the wilds of Indiana, how do you decide where to go? With many great state park options like Turkey Run, Brown County, McCormicks Creek, and relative newcomer Prophetstown get a lot of attention but don’t overlook enjoyable options at Shakamak, Salamonie and Brookville, each with water recreation. This month I’m pulling out the green camping notebook for a few insights on some of the gems.
McCormicks Creek State Park: Sites are great if you are tenting, using a pop-up or a smaller RV(under 34 feet). The hiking trails have challenge and there is definitely great Indiana scenery with the river, rock quarry and Wolf Cave. The campground can be tight when it comes to circling up the wagons but a few areas (sites 85-90, 118-125) are good picks. Great fall sites are located in the “B” loop (182-186) as they have room behind to walk between campsites. Just be careful selecting the length of your camping unit as most sites don’t have much room in the rear and the gate attendants can quickly size you up when checking in! Try in town Spencer for great breakfast buffet options on a Sunday or a short 25 minutes will have you sipping wine at Oliver Winery.
Brookville Lake State Park: If you are looking for a nice campground for kayaking or all-sports boating, this is a great bet. The campground has a wonderful loop layout with grassy, shade covered sites. It’s also a perfect spot to spend some time working on the tan or trying your hand at hillbilly golf or cornhole tournaments. Access to the lake is still within the park area making it convenient for those of you with boats. If you are there for a lazy weekend, a good start to the day or an appetizer at any time is ribbon bacon. Just use a hot dog fork (we happen to have a 3 prong one!) and loop the bacon on the forks and place on a grill over a low fire. Takes about 20 minutes and the bacon is crispy but not over cooked, yum!
Prophetstown State Park: Marge’s home away from home! This is a top pick for central Indiana RV enthusiasts. Relatively new at 11 years, the campground has been laid out for large rv’s and coaches that are most popular among the Glamping crowd. The 55 full hookup sites are angled nicely for backing in or pulling through. Just watch out for the large boulder site markers as they can be a little tricky to maneuver around. This park is great for relaxing and sharing some great food.
The recent opening of the waterpark has really enhanced a stay during the hot Indiana summers. Moreover, if you arrive late in the day and don’t want to cook, check out some local dining establishments in Battleground and West Lafayette. Just be sure to cross check against Purdue home football games as sites go quickly those weekends!
Most of all, be wary of Sept 19 as we have even been known to celebrate National Talk Like a Pirate Day and there may still be buried treasure behind site 161!
Well I’m off to the woods, but look for the next column to have some great features on the RV industry in Northern Indiana!