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Elk City State Park is a microcosm of sorts, a nature preserve and outdoor recreational destination located within a compact area. The landscape includes rolling meadows and woodland forests to the east of the Elk City Reservoir (which is also incorporated into the park area). The park is intended for quiet family outings but is open to the public at large. The park has a beach where you can swim and a boat ramp granting access to the reservoir lake. The lake is not particularly deep, but it is a good venue for getting some fishing in; the lake is stocked with blue and channel catfish, white bass, and crappie. Younger anglers can take advantage of a pond that is stocked just for them.
Elk City State Park is a short distance from Independence, a medium-size city that has an urban park, a water park, and a zoo. The state park is adjacent to Squaw Creek Cove (also located on Elk City Lake), a public-use area that doubles as a migratory bird refuge where they can nest, feed, and breed. If you rent a camper near Elk City State Park, you'll be able to spend time in Independence and other nearby towns.
Hiking and mountain biking are popular activities within the park, and there are more than a half-dozen trails that provide for each. Most of the trails are shorter in length, just a couple of miles long, while one trail is longer for those who would like more of a workout. Some of the trails are designated single-use, for either walking or mountain biking, and some are multi-use. The mountain biking trails have obstacles to challenge your skill level; you can expect to experience roller coaster-style elevations and long jumps that have paths around either end of the log for less experienced cyclists.
Hikers will find some paths with wooden walkways and interpretive signs explaining flora and fauna on hand. Some of the paths may be more difficult with slowly ascending hills, and some may have scenic lookouts where you can view the lake. You can expect to pass through some areas that have vertical rock walls, caves, and fields dotted with boulders. You will also pass through old-growth forest on a few trails, some of the trees being more than 200 years old.
From the trails, you can also go canoeing or kayaking on the lake, and younger kids will enjoy the on-site playground. There is a wide array of bird species in Elk City State Park, making it an ideal destination for bird and wildlife viewing. Photographers will have their choice of breathtaking landscapes and wildlife photography should the park's residents decide to make an appearance.
Book an RV rental near Independence, Kansas, to experience the culture and lifestyle of the region. While you're here, you can go camping at Elk City State Park; you can choose from four different campground areas within the park. Some of the sites can be reserved in advance while others are first-come, first-serve. The campsites at Elk City State Park are available with full or partial hookups (water and electricity only), and some sites are primitive and don't have any hookups. All of the campground areas have toilet facilities, and a few have restrooms with showers.
Another option is RV Park West, near Independence. It's a family-run RV campground with sites you can rent by the day, week, or month. Each site has full hookups (water, electric, and sewer) and expansive views with trees providing some shade. You can park your Independence camper rental here and be within a short traveling distance of numerous attractions.
Coffeeville is a quaint little town with some important landmarks such as Brown Mansion; this was the home of a local family and has been preserved as it was at that time. It has a museum with displays and exhibits regarding the Dalton Gang, who attempted to rob the Coffeeville bank and met their end doing so. It has a video that explains the story in detail (how an entire town stood up to them), while the exhibits add detail and subjectivity to the video. The city has an assortment of restaurants that range in price from inexpensive to moderate, so you can dine out here as much and as often as you please.
Cherryvale is a good town to base yourself if you'd like to visit some nearby attractions such as shopping destinations and some iconic Route 66 landmarks in your Independence motorhome rental. The town has a small but interesting dining scene with Mexican restaurants, cafes, and one establishment that provides a buffet experience.