Dates: 8/24/18 to 8/26/18 and 8/27/19 to 8/30/19
Highlights: Prairie Dog State Park; Biking; Thunder storm!
Campground: Prairie Dog State Park, Clayton KS.
Quiet rural CG; spacious sites; immaculate grounds; new basketball and volleyball courts; water access .
We enjoyed this campground so much on our way out west that we jogged south from South Dakota to add it to our return trip. Another factor in that was that the park is on US Route 36 – which we preferred so much over the optional interstate routes ( I-70, I-80, or I-90). Both I-80 and I-90 provided a straighter route, but besides the constant trucks whizzing by, we would be heading straight toward Chicago which we wanted to avoid. US 36 is fast and rural, and in good condition.
Sunflowers on US-36
Tiny rest stop in Scandia KS, at a American Legion Post
The rest stop marker describing this as land of the Pawnees.
On US 36, east of Norton, there is a sign directing you north on SR8 at Athol KS to the "Home on the Range" Cabin. This is the home where the poem was written in 1871 by Dr. Higley. He gave it to a friend to put it to music.
On our westward trip, Prairie Dog was literally a breadth of fresh air from previous campgrounds. The route to the campground is through two miles of cornfields from the park entrance. You pass undulating grassy plains with a prairie dog village and a couple historical buildings.
The park road divides miles of cornfields.
Park road passes over this rail line
Walking trails branch off from the road that lead to nice views of the reservoir and beyond.
Campsites are in three main areas with some sites along the road between them. There are some rustic sites. The newest of the three provides three rows along the side of a hill with the best views of the reservoir. Our sites were in the main campground which is a short walk to the beach / boat ramp, and across from the spectacular sport playground.
Basketball court was right behind our site. Too bad I didn't have a ball. I bought one for the return trip!
The state park is large enough to provide adequate biking.
beach volleyball court
This home is between the park entrance and the campsites. It was moved here from the original location.
While the house wasn't open, I captured some photos through the windows with my phone.
We were in Kansas in August, so the threat of sever weather (tornados or the more likely hail), we are real concern. Days before arriving on our return we had experienced sever storms with tornado warnings in Sturgis SD, and Valentine NE. But nothing scared us like this one.
We heard warnings all day and followed the approaching storms on our weather apps and NOAA radio. They appeared to be coming right at us from the northwest. Storms with high winds and hail. Messages were saying to seek shelter. We had met our camp host earlier. She (and many or the other campers), lived nearby and used the campground as a get away. We sought her out to see where they go or what to do when a tornado threat was imminent. We couldn't find her or another soul outside though we did not go knocking on trailers.
The blue dot on the weather app screenshot shows our location. True to prediction, the worse past us to the southwest.
So I made a command decision. There was a brick shower/bathroom building within site of our trailer. As the storm came closer, the sky got darker, the wind blew heavier, and the weather warnings grew, we packed up flashlights, the radio, snacks and water, and my camera and headed for the bathrooms.
It turns out that the ladies restroom provided the most protection from the wind while affording us a view of the approaching storm. We were both glued to our respective weather apps, while I had my head out the door taking videos.
We still saw PLENTY of lightning!
As the storm was passing by. Photo shot peeking out the ladies room!
We were lucky. The heart of the storm went just a handful of miles to the west of us. We saw and heard an amazing display of lightning and thunder. For length of time and frequency of lightning, it may be the biggest storm we've ever encountered. After I felt foolish coming out of the bathroom with no damage done to the trailer or campground, but better safe than sorry I guess.
Well, back to what I do best...