Surrounded by lush farmland and rooted in rich Ohio history, Buck Creek State Park is a great choice for RV lovers traveling through the midwest. The 1,625-acre park was established in 1975 and is located in an area of moraines, which were low hills that were built as the glaciers melted over 12,000 years ago.
The area was originally home to Native Americans and later pioneers. During the time of early settlement, it was mostly forested by large trees with minimal undergrowth. Settlers cleared the land for farming and used the fallen trees to build the first houses in the area. The Crabill Homestead, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, can be found in the park. The homestead was settled in 1813 and is a must to check out if you are an American history fan.
Nowadays, the park is leased by the state of Ohio from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The park includes the C. J. Brown Reservoir and Dam, with the reservoir being one of the main highlights of the park. The reservoir is huge at 2,120 acres and offers endless water-related opportunities, wetland discoveries, and wildlife. Other recreational activities such as hunting, picnicking, and hiking can all be enjoyed throughout the park.
There are 86 camping sites in Buck Creek State Park that are equipped with 30-amp electric sites and 22 non-electric sites. Camping is available all year round and the sites are pet-friendly. Peak season in Buck Creek State Park runs from April until October and this is the perfect time to bring your own rig or rent one.
Buck Creek State Park is an easy place to get to in your RV. You are able to access the park via two roads located at the southern end of the park. Park Road B is the road that will take you to the campground and park office, while the other road will take you to CJ Brown Dam and Reservoir. The closest town to Buck Creek State Park is Springfield that lies south west, followed by Urbana in the north and London in the east. If you need gas you can fill up in Springfield before you begin to drive to the park. During the winter the park may close if it is hit by a blizzard, so make sure you check ahead to see if there are any weather warnings.
Parking is available at both of the park entrances, but there is more room over on the eastern side where the campgrounds and park office are. If you want to park to access the marina there are some spots available near Buck Creek Marina.
There is no public transportation available to Buck Creek State Park. If you need to leave the park without packing up your RV you could call a cab from either Northridge or Springfield.
Buck Creek State Park has one campground that is open year-round for RV lovers to enjoy. The campground features a mixture of powered and non-powered sites that have enough room to fit 35-foot RVs. The site is fairly big and offers 108 sites in total. Out of those, there are 86 30-amp electric sites and 22 non-electric sites. While no water hookups are offered, there are eight water collection points. One dump station can be found on the way into the campgrounds, along with additional parking.
Other amenities in the campground include picnic tables, showers, flush toilets, a playground, a dump station, and bike rentals. You should have cell phone reception in the campgrounds, and there is a camp store for some last-minute supplies. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, and the campground is open all year round. Pets are welcome to camp with you here.
Another great camping option for RV lovers wanting to stay close to Buck Creek State Park is John Bryan State Park. The campground at John Bryan State Park is suited to RVs that are 40 feet and under due to the tight roads and shallow campsites.
You have the option of choosing to stay at one of the 52 non-electric sites or nine 50-amp electric sites (there are nine available). The non-electric sites are partially-shaded, but the electric sites are not. You may want to take this into consideration if you are staying at the campground over the summer months.
The campground's amenities are primitive with no showers and only pit toilets available. However, you will be comfortable thanks to the picnic table and fire ring at each site, handy water collection points, a camp store, and a dump station. Pets are allowed but dogs must be leashed at all times.
For campers looking for a little bit of luxury, there is a great option available for you at Buck Creek State Park. Here you will find some lovely cottages that are perfect for accommodating a larger group than what can fit in most RVs. In total there are 25 cottages available that vary between being located in a partially-shaded wooded area to some that have lake views. Most cottages feature two bedrooms. The amenities within the cottages feature kitchens, bathrooms, air conditioning, cable TV, and screened-in porches. Please note that pets are only allowed in specific cottages.
Birding at Buck Creek State Park is awesome as the area is a hotspot with over 250 bird types being reported. If you want to check out some waterfowl then head to the northernmost region of the park. The shallow waters in the lake provide a stopover for thousands of migrating ducks during the year and you can find rare songbirds in the open meadows. Some of the other common species to see include bobolinks, dickcissels, and henslow sparrows.
A great all-year-round activity for people of all ages is to have a game of disc golf. Buck Creek State Park has an 18-hole course that was first established in 2007. The terrain throughout the course varies from being heavily wooded to areas that have wide open spaces and rolling hills. No discs are available for rent in the park so you need to bring your own discs if you want to have a game.
The hiking trails in Buck Creek State Park are a great way to get out and see the nature that is located throughout the park. There are four trails available for hiking, one bridle trail for hiking and snowmobiling, and a multi-purpose trail that connects the park to outside trails, the Springfield Museum of Art, and local parks. The Lakeview Trail is the longest at around three miles, and it takes you on a nice moderate trip around the picturesque lake. If you want to do something smaller there is also a half-mile Dam Walk Trail that could be a better option more suited to those of all ages.
Managed by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, C.J. Brown Dam & Reservoir Visitor Center should be a must-see during your visit to the park. The Visitor Center has informative exhibits on various topics relating to the area, including the history of the Dam and lake, and the natural resources and recreation in the area. Restrooms for one of the picnic shelters are also located at the Visitor Center. If you want to check it out for yourself the C.J. Brown Dam & Reservoir Visitor Center is open Monday to Friday.
During the summer, Buck Creek State Park offers visitors the chance to take a dip and cool off at the designated swimming beach. The beach is 2,400 feet in length and is nice and sandy. Pets are not allowed at the swimming beach. Although the beach is calm due to it being on a lake, exercise caution when you are swimming. There are no guarantees lifeguards will be at the beach, so keep that in mind before you decide to take a dip.
The lake also provides some great fishing options that are available during your stay in Buck Creek State Park. If you don't have a boat to go out and fish on, you are able to fish around the marina and on the wheelchair-accessible fishing pier. If the fish are biting you could catch species ranging from walleye, catfish, crappie, white bass, and bluegill. A valid Ohio fishing license is required if you want to cast a line, so keep that in mind before you start your fishing adventure.
The 2,120-acre lake is an absolutely ideal spot to do some boating. When you are on the lake there is an unlimited horsepower restriction, meaning that you can use motorized boats at all times. The marina features a four-lane launch ramp that will provide you access to the lake, however, there are no boat rentals available. The marina also has a snack bar, boat fuel and bait shop on offer if you need any supplies while you are out on the water.
If you are looking for a picnic, you will be happy to know that Buck Creek State Park has you covered. There are three picnic shelters available for reservations that feature grills, picnic tables, electric service, and water fountains. The shelters are great for large groups and can be reserved online. Traveling with a smaller crew? If so, there are plenty of great spots along the reservoir that will make a great picnic spot. Remember to pack a lunch, a blanket, and let the good times roll.