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Thread: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

  1. #1

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    nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

    My wife and I will be driving cross-country in a couple weeks, and will be looking for camping spots as we go. Here's some idea of our plans:

    Nebraska - we'll be on I-80, and it looks like there are a number of state parks near the interstate. Something toward the east side is what we are looking for, as we'll start that day in Laramie, WY. Just a nice place to camp is all that I'm hoping for.

    Missouri - we'd like to do a bit of biking on the Katy Trail, so looking for something that is near the trail or has immediate access to it.

    Illinois/Kentucky - anything nice is OK. Access to, or proximity to, a car-free trail for bicycling would be a definite plus. We'd prefer to stay somewhat south in Illinois.

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

    https://ton.siu.edu/activities/mountain-bike-trail/

    Next door camping in Giant City and private nearby

    https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/...GiantCity.aspx

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/sha...10669&actid=34

    Whole area is usually empty until hunting season, when we get too busy

    Watch out for deer, they are in my yard

    https://www.fws.gov/refuge/crab_orchard/

    This area north is flat, but it turns hilly like Wisconsin just south of my home

    I don't drive anymore and cannot guide
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  3. #3

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    Re: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

    I used to live in the Missouri / Southern IL area before becoming a Pacific Northwesterner.. here are my thoughts

    The area overall is definitely most beautiful in the fall. Avoid Summer at all costs (humid and buggy). Since you are headed from Missouri to Southern IL, a small detour to Taum Sauk could get you Missouri's high point. I second the idea of Giant City it's a beautiful area for photography. There is even the remains of a Native American rock wall (fort?) on one of the hills in the park.

    Nearer the Illinois/Kentucky border is Garden of the Gods which is another very impressive area with rock formations.

    Other than that, be on the lookout for nice river scenes. Not dramatic rivers of the West, but large lumbering rivers that have a quite different feel (although similar to the Columbia in some ways). Swampy wetlands areas abound as well and are good opportunities for wildlife watching.

  4. #4

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    Re: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

    Thanks - I'll look into those places!

    Deer in our yard here in OR, too. The ones in town seem to have become so habituated that they no longer feel like much of a threat to jump out in front of you when driving, but that is a serious concern on the highways. I'm trying not to drive after dark anymore, at least partly because of that.

  5. #5

    Re: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

    A great place to camp and see western Nebraska is Lake McConaughy. I-80 to Ogallala. Then north about 12 miles. Big lake, sandy beaches. Below the dam a smaller lake with lots of trees. Large cotton woods starting to color. Some areas, huge thistle bushes, this time of year turning red, purple and orange. Many golden fields freshly harvested looking like a 50's flat top haircut.
    Do I sound a little home sick!
    Sounds like a great trip. Enjoy

  6. #6

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    Re: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

    Eminence mo. Great camping and hiking. Trails every where. Current and the Jacks fork rivers. Rocks and trees, hundreds of springs, Steep hills and curving roads. Intimate landscapes.

  7. #7
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

    I wonder if OP is traveling on Interstate Fed Hwy or back roads as I prefer

    I have found even in desert, back roads are more interesting

    Once into the plains, small towns still exist

    I used to always seek the smallest gas station for gas, news and tips

    Yes it is way slower, but that's the point

    Hauling bicycles on a rack in motel towns may invite theft

    Cameras are always a target

    Camouflage and zig zag helps
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  8. #8

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    Re: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

    OP needs to make it from Klamath Falls, OR to Williamsburg, VA in about 11 or 12 days, so probably can't backroad it the whole way!

    But seriously, we'll mostly interstate it to the eastern border of Nebraska and on through part of Iowa, then slow down. I've lived and traveled in the west all my life, and my wife for 40+ years. So the most interesting stuff for us will be farther east. After a little research, I'm thinking we'd like to do at least some of the Great River Road (any suggestions for particular portions of that?), then go on to southern Illinois. Looks like some mtn biking in the area of the previously mentioned Garden of the Gods, then maybe on to the Land Between the Lakes (more mtn biking). From there we'll be winging it, accounting for whatever time we have left.

    Will look into Eminence for the trip back. We'll be visiting my wife's uncle in the Springfield area (more specifically, Nixa), so Eminence would fit right in!

    I lived in Sydney, NE one summer, and Lake McConaughy was where a lot of folks went on the weekends, but I never made it. A guy I worked with had offered to take me bowfishing in the Sand Hills, and not taking him up on that is something I've regretted for 40 + years!

  9. #9
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    Re: nebraska/missouri/southern illinois/kentucky camping

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