Midwesterners love to camp, and when you pass through beautiful landscapes every time you drive from one city to another, it’s easy to see why. But not all campsites are created equally, and that’s why it’s important to learn what you can about campgrounds before you even choose where you’re going to camp.
What does your family need? Or are you traveling solo and you already have everything you need (except a shower) to enjoy a night under the stars?
I have lots of fond memories of camping – and some not-so-fond memories, too. I remember one campground that listed bathrooms on their website, but they were really outhouses.
Some campgrounds are located so far away from anything else that if you forget to bring anything at all on your trip, you could find yourself stranded without a toothbrush for a week.
All that said, even if you spend hours researching a particular campsite online, you may show up just to find that the information is outdated. There’s no foolproof guarantee that what you see on the park website is what you’ll get.
However, that shouldn’t stop you from reading about the campground online. But if you want a head start, take a look at these highly-recommended campgrounds in the Midwest.
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Nebraska
It doesn’t matter what time of year you’re looking to camp here: Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is open year-round. This campground is ideal for families, as there’s lots for kids to do, including exploring the aquatic center. Take the little ones to the indoor playground and the older ones to the treetop ropes course.
For those who don’t like sleeping outdoors, check out the Peter Kiewit Lodge, which has 40 guest rooms, many of which offer a view of the Platte River valley.
Indiana Dunes State Park, Indiana
You don’t have to go all the way to Michigan to enjoy Lake Michigan. At Indiana Dunes State Park, there are three miles of beach along the lake’s southern shore – and that’s just to begin. “Large sand dunes, located beyond the entire shoreline, have taken thousands of years to form, and tower nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan.”
There are plenty of campsites offering electricity, and there’s a specific youth area for camping in this state park as well.
Lake of the Arbuckles, Oklahoma
Fans of fishing, this may be the perfect campground for you. Lake of the Arbuckles, located within the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, is known for its excellent fishing. Many species live in the lake, such as largemouth bass, spotted bass, American gizzard shad, walleye, freshwater drum, blue catfish, flathead catfish, bluegill, and more.
There are two campgrounds with showers at Lake of the Arbuckles: Buckhorn and the Point. They also offer comfort toilets and electric hook-ups, and these campgrounds are open year-round.
Devils Backbone Wilderness, Missouri
There are 6,687 acres inside the wilderness boundary of this area within Mark Twain National Forest. Devils Backbone Wilderness offers 13 miles of maintained foot and horse trails that follow Devils Backbone and four other ridges for stunning hiking.
Like the name implies, it truly is a wilderness. There are no toilets, trash cans, structures, or fire grates. There’s also no treated water. If you’re going to camp here, be prepared to bring lots of your own water. If that sounds too rustic for you, check out the other camping (and cabin!) options in Mark Twain National Forest instead.
Buffalo National River, Arkansas
I keep coming back to Buffalo National River because it’s absolutely gorgeous. This large national park has plenty of amenities to offer in addition to the stunning scenery, and you can take your pick from a wide range of campgrounds all over the park.
Buffalo National River is affordable and gives you access to paddling the river, well-maintained hiking trails, star-gazing, and so much of the beauty of the Natural State.
Hocking Hills State Park Campground, Ohio
Travel to Ohio in the fall to appreciate the autumn beauty of this park. Hocking Hills has many amenities, including playgrounds, a volleyball court, and a horseshoe pit. The hiking includes one-way trail systems.
This park offers 156 electric sites with paved pads that can accommodate up to a 50-foot unit for RV campers, and there are also tent-only campsites and cabins as well.
Table Rock Lake State Park, Missouri
For those who want to be close to civilization while still getting in touch with nature, Table Rock is a fantastic option. Located close to the touristy town of Branson, Missouri, this park offers access to a beautiful lake, hiking, biking, and mountain biking trails.
There are two campgrounds at Table Rock, and they offer basic electric, sewer, and water. You can even camp on a platform tent site (there are only two available), where the tent is included!