Thursday, July 1, 2010
Kansas State Parks
We spent a few weeks in May at Crawford Lake State Park. The campground was shady, grassy and spacious, and there were lots of places to throw in a line. There was a good road all the way around the lake, with nice farm and lake views, deer grazing, frogs croaking - perfect for riding bikes or walking every day. Since school was still in session across the state, and the park is out-of-the-way, it was fairly empty and extremely peaceful. It's our new favorite Kansas campground.
Crawford is proud of its CCC heritage, and has a nice memorial and interpretive stations with grand statistics and amusing slice-of-life accounts of the community that built the dam. A lot of the state parks we've stayed in were originally CCC camps. We always enjoy reading about the lives of the men who lived and worked there, and seeing the architecture that remains.
There were loads of birds, too. Most prized were the scissor-tailed flycatchers, first in what turned out to be the "spring of scissor-taileds" -- we saw more than we've ever seen this year, while roving around eastern Kansas. Here's a list of most of the birds we saw at Crawford, with apologies for any non-standard nomenclature:
Great blue heron
Ducks (no idea)
Swifts and swallows
Black and white warbler
We also spent a few nights each at Hillsdale Lake State Park, and Clinton Lake State Park. We met up with friends for a camping weekend at Clinton Lake Recreation Area (Corps of Engineers side). Mostly we just relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful spring.
Frugal tip: If you camp in Kansas more than a few weeks out of the year, it's worth buying an annual camping pass for Kansas State Parks (in addition to the annual state parks vehicle entrance pass). It pays for the basic camping fee, so that you only pay campsite premiums (for season and/or prime location) and electric/water premiums. This means that after the first twenty nights or so, we were camping for free, or for a few dollars a night when we got crazy and wanted to use the vacuum cleaner.