Sitting peacefully on 1,200 acres in northeast Kansas, Tuttle Creek State Park is made up of four distinct areas of the Tuttle Creek Reservoir and boasts over 700 campsites, making it the perfect destination for your next RV vacation.
Tuttle Creek Reservoir, or Tuttle Creek Lake, was originally designed to control floodwaters and mitigate damage to nearby towns after a series of disastrous floods in 1951. However, this area now features a wide array of recreational activities and draws in thousands of visitors from all over the country. The lake is surrounded by a majestic setting, including tallgrass prairie in the uplands, which pop with color in the spring, blooming with bluestems, golden rods, and sunflowers. The most popular time of year to visit is from April to October.
RV visitors to the park can enjoy everything from exploring 100 miles of wooded shorelines and swimming to hiking, boating, and even playing disc golf. The park is just as good for soloist explorers as it is for families, but no matter how you choose to spend your time at Tuttle Creek State Park, you're in for quite the RV adventure.
Just under two and a half hours south of Lincoln, Nebraska and a little over an hour northeast of Topeka, Tuttle Creek State Park is easy to access off of several main highways. Once inside the park, most of the roads are paved, but there are also several gravel roads, so they aren't necessarily the best for trailers and RVs. Many visitors choose to bring a car along and leave the RV at the campsite, as some of the roads are difficult to manage in large rigs. Bikes are also a viable transportation option; just make sure your bike can handle gravel roads.
If you're staying the night in the South Randolph Campground or just looking to visit the area, it is easiest to reach it using KS-16, which cuts right through the area. South Randolph Campground is comprised of 70 campsites, 20 of which have electric hookups. The other 50 sites are ideal for tents as they are primitive and offer no hookups. This campground is a favorite of many visitors since it is right beside the beautiful Tuttle Creek Lake.
Since there are no sewage hookups, the park provides a shower area and a dump station near the campground to make disposing of waste a breeze. There is also a community water hookup available. Several nature trails are within the area as well, including the park's equestrian trails. There are also picnic shelters very close to the RV campground. All of the electric sites can be reserved, and since there are only 20 of them, if you want one it is recommended that you make a reservation well in advance.
Fancy Creek Campground is ideal for visitors looking for a rustic camping experience since there are 200 primitive campsites. However, it is also a good spot for RV camping, with 24 electric sites for your choosing. RV sites at this location can accommodate rigs up to 110 feet long. Both back-in and pull-through sites are available.
Visitors to this campground can enjoy breathtaking lakeside views and campsites with lots of shade. Water hookups aren't available, but the sites can be reserved year-round and up to 13 months in advance.
It's a popular campground in the winter months, not only since the snow-capped trees create a winter wonderland experience, but also because it is close to the shooting range, which is one of the recreational activities that can be enjoyed year-round. Several mountain biking trails in the area also make it a popular choice for bikers. Several shelters are also available in the Fancy Creek Area for group gatherings and they can be reserved up to a year in advance.
The River Pond Campground is the largest of them all, with 540 primitive camping sites and 167 sites with water and electric hookups. It's not hard to imagine that despite its size, it's a very popular camping destination since it has both water and electric hookups.
Since the River Pond area is so large, it is split up into three smaller areas: Riley Point, Rocky Ford, and River Pond. Riley Point is made up of 30 primitive sites and 20 water and electric sites, while Rocky Ford contains just 49 water and electric sites. The River Pond area contains 500 primitive campsites and 98 water and electric sites.
Nearby amenities to the campsites will vary depending on exactly where you are staying, but boat docks, boat rentals, and boat ramps are all in the area. No matter where you are staying a few things will surely be nearby, including restrooms, a playground, and a disc golf course. The River Pond Campground also features several shelters and seven reservable cabins, for a more luxurious camping experience.
The primitive sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so there are almost always sites available upon arrival, even if they aren't your ideal spot. If nothing is available when you arrive, you can always try another campground in one of the other areas.
Some of the sites at Fancy Creek Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you don't make a reservation in advance, you may still be able to get a site when you arrive.
The Cedar Ridge Campground offers lakeside views while camping and has 100 primitive tent-only sites, so it isn't too popular with the RV crowd. Nevertheless, there is a boat launch and fish cleaning station available nearby, so fishermen who like to get down and dirty in nature may like this campground. The campground is also known for being very peaceful since it is fairly small and the sites are well-spaced.
Some of the campsites at this campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but since there are so many sites available, the easiest way to know which ones are reservable and which ones aren't is to go online. The non-reservable sites tend to fill up quickly on weekends, so get there early Friday afternoon if you're looking for a weekend stay.
If cycling is your thing, you'll love Tuttle Creek State Park's trails that offer a bit of an off-road challenge. While there are some nice hiking trails that allow cycling, you'll want to check out the Fancy Creek Mountain Bike Trail. You'll experience some hard-packed dirt and off-road terrain, heading through a cedar forest with rocky outcrops and jutting stone ridges, making your ride a real mountain-biking adventure. So, grab a water bottle and your helmet and hit the trails on your RV vacation.
The fishing is great at Tuttle Creek State Park as you are surrounded by water, and the fish are definitely biting. There are ample opportunities to fish within the park, including in the river, on the lake, from the fishing docks, and from the dam. Bass are one of the most common catches in the park, but you can also expect to catch saugeye, crappie, and several other species of fish. So don't forget to pack your fishing gear in your camper. You'll enjoy cooking up your catch for the family back at the camp.
When you want to go for a dip to beat the heat, park your camper at Tuttle Creek River Pond, within the River Pond Area, which is the most popular swimming location in the park. However, make sure you stay within the designated swimming areas because boating is also allowed nearby. Always swim with a partner and don't forget your flotation device. No lifeguards are on duty, so you swim at your own risk. And if swimming isn't your thing, you can always relax along the forested shore without burning in the sun.
All four areas that makeup Tuttle Creek State Park have wonderful hiking trails that range from easy to moderate. Two of the most popular areas for hiking are South Randolph and Fancy Creek. The trails vary in difficulty and length, but there is definitely something for everyone. Many of the trails offer breathtaking views of the diverse ecosystems within the park, taking you through not only forested areas but also flint hills and tallgrass prairies. With almost 15 miles of trails to choose from, you will have trouble deciding where to start, so pick up a trail map at the park office or download one online to use during your camping stay.
Hunting is allowed during the season on the nearby state land bordering the park. Hunters will find turkey, quail, and pheasants, in addition to various waterfowl in the early season. White-tailed deer are also prevalent in the area, and hunters will easily be able to fill their tags. You'll need a hunting license, and all hunters must check in with I-Sportsman before they begin a hunt. Make sure to check all regulations and be respectful of the land. No wood cutting is permitted in the hunting areas.
A popular activity year-round is practicing at the shooting and archery ranges. The shooting range is in the Fancy Creek Area and is only open during the first and third weekends of every month, so if you want to experience it, make sure you plan your trip around the range's hours. If archery is your main interest, check out the Luke Nihart Archery Range in the River Pond Area; just be sure to bring your own equipment. Crossbow archery is also permitted.
The River Pond area features an 18-hole disc golf course that is open all year long. Even if you have never played before, disc golf can be a fun way to spend a day as a family. The best part of the course is that you get to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of the area while playing, and the game requires no special equipment other than a disc and does not interfere with the natural habitat. So if you're up for some friendly competitions, head your rig over to the disc golf course.
It's no surprise that this giant park is home to dozens of species of mammals, insects, and birds, not to mention a wide variety of plant life. Whether you're exploring the trails or sailing on the lake, you'll likely catch glimpses of animals such as deer, turkey, quail, doves, and various shorebirds. If that isn't enough, be sure to check out the 12,000-acre wildlife area directly adjacent to the park. During the less crowded off-season, you are likely to see even more animals than any other time of year. Whenever you decide to go, you'll want to pack a nice camera for this RV stay.