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Old 05-16-2014, 05:10 AM   #1
indimom
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Midwest Camping?

I thought I would put this out there since so many of you are knowledgeable about more than just the Ft....

We would like to plan a short (maybe 4 or 5 days) tent camping trip for the end of this summer or possibly next summer (not sure about our schedules/budget yet since this is somewhat last minute).

We do not want to go too far because the trip is short and we don't want to spend the entire trip driving. We live in southeastern Indiana, so anywhere between Illinois and mid-Ohio or southern Michigan to northern Tennessee. Places we could get to in half a day or so.

We are looking for more adventurous activities for our teens: zip lining, canoeing or possibly some "tame" river rafting (we have one who is somewhat uneasy about rough water, loves pool and lakes, but timid in waves), tougher hiking, biking. Oh, and go-karts or something similar, DS is still upset he was too short for his own car the last time we did that. We have a daughter (17 this summer) and a son who just turned 14. A pool or water park also welcome. The kids love that.

We can camp anywhere, but I'm sort of biased toward places like KOA and jellystone-type campgrounds over state or national parks because they seem to have nicer bathroom/showers, but that's not a huge sticking point as long as the campground has showers and flush toilets close enough to walk to in the middle of the night. lol.

So, any suggestions? I've been trying to research, but it's such a broad idea at this point I'm having difficulty honing in one any one area.

Thanks!
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:56 AM   #2
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We have stayed at the Mammoth Cave area Jellystone campground before. It was nice and clean. Staff was friendly. Lots of themed activities for kids as well as lots to do in the surrounding areas.
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Old 05-17-2014, 10:00 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsabbott
We have stayed at the Mammoth Cave area Jellystone campground before. It was nice and clean. Staff was friendly. Lots of themed activities for kids as well as lots to do in the surrounding areas.
I am planning on coming up from Mississippi next summer and camping there before going over to Smokey Mountains National Park. I take it you had a good experience?
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Old 05-17-2014, 10:04 AM   #4
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Indimom,

don't have much experience in your area at this time. I have camped Smokey Mountains before, camping at Creekside RV in Pigeon Forge, TN. There is also a KOA there as well with trolley access to Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg.

Check it out, stayed there a lot.
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:07 AM   #5
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Thanks for the suggestions! We spent a week at the Mammoth Cave area years ago. I probably should have mentioned that. We're looking for somewhere new to try, but that's exactly the type of thing we are looking for. We really enjoyed it there. Even though it rained 4/7 days of that trip, we still got a lot done and had a great time.

I'll check into Creekside also. I've done some research on Smokey Mts. trips, but no specifics.
Just wanted to add, I don't think you can go wrong at Mammoth Cave. We stayed at the Jellystone campground there about 8 years ago. The campground was well maintained and managed.
We went over July 4th and they had a huge fireworks show (after the rain, lol). There was a nice playground and pool/slide. Lots of scheduled activities. A hay ride with Yogi and his little friend (which was bleeped by the Dis, lol) for the kids. And Mammoth Cave was just a couple miles up the road. We did four cave tours on that trip. ha ha. They were great when it was pouring rain outside.
We also spent a day at the Kentucky Action Park, a sort of roadside attraction with bumper cars, bumper boats, go karts, rock climbing walls, and an alpine slide. The kids loved it.

Thanks again for the suggestions, I really hope we can make this work this summer! I'm getting excited checking out all sorts of destinations.
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Old 05-18-2014, 08:15 AM   #6
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Jellystone is exactly where we were looking to stay. How many days do you suggest for Mammoth Cave NP? I mean for just the park itself. Also, are there different cave tours available?

I also forgot Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Stayed there in 2002 and it was really nice. Lots of bear sightings, deer, trails, and compact enough to be able to reach most things easily. There is also Loray Caverns (spelling) in Shenandoah Valley. Not sure how long a drive that might be for you, it was 12 hours from Mississippi.
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Old 05-19-2014, 05:12 AM   #7
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MCNP was beautiful when we went. We did four cave tours (and there were quite a few more to choose from), and we hiked on a couple different trails. Some were just scenic, some showed different entrances to the cave network. We got some beautiful pictures. If you like that sort of thing, I'd take a couple days anyway. We stayed a week and weren't bored.

The tours range from short (like 30 minutes) to a half-day tour which includes a break for lunch in the caves.
We did that longest tour, it was very interesting, and the kids thought eating in the cave was very cool.
We did a night-time tour by lantern light. We really liked that one, we had a great tour guide, and it was a smaller group so you didn't miss a thing.
We also did the river tour. This was okay, but you really can't get close enough to see the river, you can catch the shine of the lanterns on the water but that's about it - they limit the light down there for the protection of the species that live there in the dark, if I remember correctly.
And we did a historical tour which included some of the history of Mammoth Cave's discovery and the first tour guides and exploration.
There were several others we considered, you can get descriptions and book in advance on their website. We were glad we did because there was quite a crowd lined up to pay for tours (and most had no idea which tour they wanted to participate in) and we were able to avoid all of that.

I don't know if its still around, but the kids really loved Kentucky Action Park. The mom in me was a bit nervous about the alpine slide and the "side of the road" appearance of the place, but it was worth every penny. They have a very short cave tour (probably not worth the bother unless they have made changes, we couldn't go far because an earthquake loosened a large overhead slab of rock and they had barricades up maybe 40 feet inside the entrance. There was a small side passage you could explore that went down a stairs, was very tight, ended abruptly, and then you had to squeeze past everyone else to come back up. lol.

There were several other small attractions in the area that we did not do, a dinosaur themed park of some sort, and a small zoo. Another option is a day trip to either Bowling Green (about 40 minutes) or Louisville (90 minutes). They each have theme parks. Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville was just recently reopened after being closed for a few years.

Have a great trip! If you are traveling during a busy time, I would book cave tours ahead of time.
Make sure you bring a sweater or jacket. The cave is damp and chilly. We thought mid-50s year round sounded lovely, but it gets cold fast. We dressed better after our first tour.
Oh, and dark colors would be better. My kids had on light grey sweaters and trailed their hands over the hand rails all day in the caves. The cuffs were really grungy by the end of the tours. I never got those stains completely out.
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Old 05-19-2014, 10:57 AM   #8
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As a Hoosier, have you ever been to Holiday World and Lake Rudolph Campground in Santa Claus, IN? We have been meaning to get over there and give it a try.
Also, if hiking is important, try Obannon Woods State Park in Corydon, IN. They have some really nice hiking trails and a great new Family Aquatic center. Indiana Caverns has also just opened up in Corydon as well, and is a very short ride from the State Park.
As far as Southeast Indiana goes, we have always enjoyed our trips to Versailles State Park, but have not been in a while due to the Madison Bridge construction. Now that the bridge is open, we will plan on more trips there.
You might want to check out some of the campgrounds surrounding Kings Island in Ohio.
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:26 AM   #9
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If you haven't camped at lake Rudolph you definitely need to go there, it is awesome, great waterpark at holiday world and they have a free shuttle that takes you from the campground to the waterpark.

Olive Branch is a campground with lots to do right next to Kings Island. I haven't been yet but am trying it out later this summer.

Hocking Hills in Ohio is absolutely beautiful for hiking. Natural Bridge in Kentucky is another neat place to camp and hike.

There are some whitewater rafting places in Brookville Indiana. The campgrouond in Brookville is beautiful with a man made beach on the lake. I have never been rafting but have heard that is supposed to be a tame one. I do know there is a marina on the lake that rents boats as well and they do also have hiking trails.
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:50 AM   #10
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Also around Corydon, IN there are caves other than Indiana Caverns. Squire Boone Caverns also features Zip Lines.

http://www.squireboonecavernszipline...dventures.html

There are also Zip lines at Hocking Hills in Ohio.
http://www.hockinghills.com/zipline.html
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:26 AM   #11
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Thanks so much for the other suggestions!
We have visited Holiday World a couple times. The campground was quite nice. (Our last trip was in October and the kids loved trick or treating there. A ton of fun!)
For those who are considering it? Go. It's a clean, fun park. And it's absolutely perfect if you have younger kids or kids who are not into the really, really wild attractions (like you find at KI). The food was good. And the free parking, drinks and sunblock are a nice bonus. You don't have to carry a lot of "stuff" with you just to get through a theme park day.
They have a cool playground in the back of the park that the kids loved and spent a lot of time at burning off steam. And, of course, the newer water park. It's an awesome place to visit.
We have also been to the KI area many, many times. We've had season passes a few times over the years. We haven't camped there, but have had many, many day trips to KI, their water park, The Beach, and other nearby locations. Lots of fun since my kids love their thrills!
Brookville and Versailles State Park are also places we've visited often as day trips. The kids already have two visits to VSP planned for this summer with cousins. So, we'll probably skip those. Too much like camping in the back yard, if you know what I mean?

We've never been to Corydon, but I have some family and friends who have. I'll check into that. It would be a very short drive, but to an area we've never really visited before. That would be a nice bonus since we drive our car and it gets pretty tight in there with all our camping gear.

Hocking Hills is on my list to check out, it sounds lovely. I know that family and friends have camped there over the years and enjoyed it.

I've never heard of Obannon Woods, so I'll be sure to check into that as well.

Thanks again for all the suggestions. I really appreciate it!
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