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On the easternmost border of Kansas, you’ll find rolling grasslands and lush forest: the perfect natural landscape for a camping trip. Hillsdale State Park is a quick one-hour drive south of both Topeka, KS, and Kansas City, MO, just outside of Louisburg.
In 1976, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began building a dam on Bull Creek to control flooding in the Osage River Basin. Six years later, the Hillsdale reservoir was created and a new ecosystem grew. In 1989, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sold the land to the state of Kansas, and five years later, Hillsdale State Park opened to the public.
If your RV camping trip takes you to the middle of the country, make a point to stop by Hillsdale State Park. This park is brimming with wildlife for viewing, game for hunting, and fish for reeling. To get started, just book a motorhome in Miami County and start planning your Hillsdale State Park camping trip.
An east Kansas vacation isn’t complete without a bit of hunting at Hillsdale State Park. Bring your bow, shotgun, pistol, or rifle to the practice area just south of the dam. Then, test your skills in the park. Waterfowl is the major game, but you might also find some deer, squirrel, rabbit, or quail.
Try some fishing at Hillsdale as well. Drop a line in the reservoir and see what you can catch. Considered one of the best destinations in Kansas for fishing, you might land yourself a crappie, walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill, or catfish. Or take the boat out on the water. Tear up the lake in your motorboat or paddle briskly in a canoe. And when it’s time to cool off, go for a refreshing swim!
If you’re looking to do a bit of hiking during your Hillsdale State Park camping trip, you’ll have 49 miles of trail systems to explore. Some trails take you through beautiful grasslands, while others weave you through majestic wooded areas. A few of the trails are great for biking and horseback riding as well.
Hillsdale State Park campers have their choice of around 259 campsites. They vary in amenities, but some come with standard 30-amp electrical hookups and water hookups while others come with full hookups. Dump stations are provided as well as a water spigot to keep the campers hydrated.
There's no Wi-Fi available in the park; however, most cell phone carriers have good service there. As far as amenities go, campers can wash their clothes in the on-site laundromat or freshen up in the bathrooms and shower rooms. The folks at the information desk at the visitors' center can provide you with detailed information on the park and surrounding area, as well as answer any camping questions you may have.
While you’re in the area, consider a trip north to the state capital of Topeka. Topeka has been labeled the Crossroads to Freedom. This city has a rich history of revolution and a fight for equality. History buffs will revel in the odes to monumental movements for Civil Rights that have taken place in Topeka. Visit monuments and museums, then have a nice dinner at one of the lovely restaurants in the downtown area.
For a fun family day, head over to Kansas City and visit the Kansas City Zoo. Hand-feed a camel or watch a majestic polar bear go for a swim. Visitors can discover over 1,700 animals within the zoo. There's always some sort of community event going on and a new animal to see. You can take a safari trip, a boat cruise, or a train ride through different areas of the zoo. Open year-round, the Kansas City Zoo is always a great way to spend a day.
Overland Park is just a short drive north of the park on your way to Kansas City, and if you’re looking for a family-friendly getaway, this is the place to be. Take the kids bowling, head over to the Discovery Room at the Museum of Prairiefire, or visit the American Jazz Museum. There's also a rock climbing gym, a farmstead, and even a chocolate factory. This place is literally a child’s dream. Whether you’re young or young at heart, it’ll be good for the soul to head up to Overland Park and let loose.
Hillsdale State Park is conveniently located beside a slew of gas stations, so when it's time to hit the road, you should have no problem finding a place to top off the tank of your camper rental. Grab a bite to eat at a Chinese, pizza, or barbecue joint in Paola. Then, when you’re all stocked up, I-35 is just a short drive west and can take you north towards Kansas City or west towards Wichita.