If we had our choice we would rather be boondocked out in the middle of nowhere, but this last year we have made a big effort to take advantage, and get our money’s worth, out of our Thousand Trails membership. Neither of those options were available though as we started to make our way across the Midwest towards the east coast.
This post is mostly for our camping friends we have made along the way, and also a reminder for us when we are in these areas again. The Corp of Engineer parks that we have stayed in have been FABULOUS!! They are level sites, usually at least partly paved or thick raked gravel, surrounded in lovely well kept grass, all have had electric and some have also had water at the site.
The best part, almost all are on the WATER! Either a large lake, dam project or river. Not to mention the fact with the “Old Mans Pass”, as Bob calls it, the sites are 1/2 off, making most only 8-10.00 per night. This is an amazing bargain considering all the sites we have stayed at so far are HUGE, with plenty of space between you and your neighbor. All had water access for boats or canoes and while not near a large city - a big benefit to us - they were close enough to a town large enough for groceries etc. Most had paved/rustic walking paths, bike trails and two even had disc golf courses. Clean restooms/showers and either a dump station on site, or close by.
Over the last month we stayed at three different parks on our way across the Midwest. At the first park outside Yankton, South Dakota, the hosts were so helpful on things to do in the area and they gave us a CD that lists all the parks. You can also find that info here: List of Corp of Engineer Parks by State. Reservations are super easy to make on recreation.gov and they do not charge an additional fee on their site.
We only planned for a couple days at each one as we were making our way across the country, but we could have spent the max 14 days allowed and been very happy.
Happy Trails everyone!!
Cottonwood Lewis and Clark Lake, Yankton, SD
Peaceful location right on the water. Lots to do in the surrounding areas.
Bob Shelter Recreation Area / outside Des Moines Iowa
This park has a trail system that goes for 24 miles all the way into Des Moines.
Sugar Bottom at Coralville Lake, outside Iowa City, IA
There are other COE campgrounds in this area. We got lucky and got a beautiful site under the trees. Temps were super hot here, and humid. They also had quite a bit of flooding in the lower areas that closed about 1/3 of the campground.