Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Five Top Camping Destinations In Northern Indiana

Though northern Indiana doesn't have extensive public lands compared to those found in the region south of I-70, there are still plenty of places for campers to find relaxation and recreation in the upper half of the Hoosier state. Here are five favorites:

Prophetstown State Park- Indiana's newest state park is located at the junction of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers, sitting on some of the most history-rich ground in the state.

Prophetstown is slowly being turned from a collection of agricultural fields and woodlots into a mature state park that will encompass a variety of habitats such as restored prairie and forestland. There are several other interesting attractions now open in the park such as the 1920's Living History Museum.

The campground is also Indiana's newest and features 110 electric sites, 55 of which provide full hook-ups. According to Lebanon resident Ken Campbell who recently stayed at Prophetstown, the campground is outstanding.

"While it is certainly not a Turkey Run (due to its young age)," Campbell said, "it's a very nice state park. We found the campground nicely spread out, making the sites roomy and those with trees seem almost private. The bathhouses are very clean and the staff was helpful. We like it."

Mississinewa, Salamonie and Huntington Reservoirs- These three upper Wabash reservoirs, operated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, are located within a few miles of each other between Fort Wayne and Wabash.

Encompassing 3200 acres of water and 14,000 acres of land, Mississinewa State Reservoir includes several other recreation areas in addition to the main park near the dam. The campground is enormous, with over 400 available sites and is very popular with boaters and fisherman. Like other reservoir campgrounds, it is often bustling and more noisy than a similar-sized state-park camping area.

Salamonie Reservoir, a short drive east of Mississinewa, is slightly smaller but offers similar amenities along with a large 250-site campground. The lake is less popular with fishermen though the nearby countryside offers several interesting geological features such as the seven pillars of the Mississinewa and Hanging Rock. The dam spillway area is particularly scenic.

Huntington Lake is the smallest of the group and the farthest from Lafayette. It only offers 30 sites of primitive camping area and is usually much less crowded than its big sisters to the west.

Turkey Run and Shades State Parks- These popular, well-known state parks are both about an hour south of Lafayette in Parke and Montgomery counties. Both parks offer some of the best hiking and scenery in the state.

The campground at Turkey Run offers 213 electric sites and is very popular with both Indiana and Illinois residents. Campers should plan on making reservations for any weekend until winter fully arrives.

The Shades State Park campground is fully modern but does not offer electricity in any of the 105 campsites. This makes Shades less popular with trailer owners, meaning it usually has vacancies even when Turkey Run is booked solid. With less human traffic and a relatively smaller campground, this park is much more suited to tent campers and those seeking a less hectic experience, especially during the weekdays.

Raccoon State Recreation Area- Located on a peninsula in the middle of Cecil M. Hardin Reservoir (Raccoon Lake), this 4000-acre property is geared toward one thing: boaters.

The 279-site campground is usually buzzing with activity, even during the late hours as fishermen come and go. Since most sites offer electricity, it is very common for visitors to spend their entire vacation here, making this campground busier during the week than other areas.

Indiana Dunes State Park- Located among the sand dunes of the southern shore of Lake Michigan, this area is very popular with campers from northern Indiana.

Surrounded by Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the state park completely demolished and renovated the campground in 2004. According to DNR Property Manager Brandt Baughman, a major 2004 renovation turned the old, crowded 292-site campground into a 140-site area that "is very spacious, very nice and comfortable.

The campground is also extremely popular. "During the last week, for example, we were full every single night," he said. "We have the highest occupancy rate of any State Park campground."

The campground is only a short walk over the dunes to the beach and does offer some partially wooded sites. The newly renovated Nature center next to the campground has also reopened. Campers should realize that, unlike most State Parks, alcoholic beverages are forbidden in Dunes.

Camping With Family - Cost Effective Way to Enjoy Your Beach Holidays

While you are on a beach vacation with your family, then you should surely try camping out with them for at least a day or 2. You will also save some money on stay, food, and travel. Well, here are a few things that you will need to consider:

  • Choosing camping site

  • Packing checklist

  • learn about the proper etiquette and safety for beach camping

  • Recipes and seasoning ingredients

Choosing a camping site:

You could search on the internet for information on camping grounds, and about the different kinds of facilities that they offer. Some campgrounds offer facilities and activities that are specifically designed to entertain you and your family. However, there also are a few sites that also allow families to enjoy much simpler joys of life, by offering just the basic conveniences.

If you are not allowed to drive right up to the site, then you will need to pack light, so that you can walk freely. Some camping grounds let the campers use their amenities at no cost, while the others charge a nominal fee.

Packing checklist:

While packing for a beach camping holiday, you will need to prepare a list of things that you will need at the site. Besides the usual stuff like sleeping bag, tent, clothes and food, there a few other camping items that you will need out there, in order to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip.

  1. Warm bedding: Even if you are travelling during the summer season, make sure that you carry some warm bedding. The nights by the sea are much cooler than days. The sand could get cold and moist at nights. Carry extra blankets and socks to keep you warm.

  2. Hiking Gear: If you are camping by the beach close to a big city, then the chances of hiking are very unlikely. If you were to choose a remote site, then you could enjoy hiking as well. It might also come handy while fetching wood for the bonfire.

  3. Rain gear: Tropical climate is unpredictable, and you could encounter unexpected rains at times. Make sure that you carry ponchos, rain coats, etc. Also, don't forget to check your tent for holes before leaving.

  4. Sand toys: Kids love to play on sand, and it will also give you some time to relax and enjoy too. Don't forget to include their sand toys while packing. You could take Frisbee, volleyball, hula hoop, hard ball racquets, etc if your kids are bigger.

  5. First aid kit: Always make sure that you carry one with you, particularly while travelling with kids. The kit should include medicines for all common ailments like cold, fever, bad stomach, cough, etc.

Proper Etiquette

Do not litter on the site. You could either bury the trash or dump them at designated points. You could check with the campsite facilitator about the waste disposal practice that they follow.

Recipes and seasoning ingredients

When you are at the beach, you would love to pamper your taste buds with some yummy seafood. Therefore, it is important that you carry appropriate cooking equipments like a big pan or pot for boiling, skillet, tin foil, disposable paper plates, etc. You could take some butter, lemon, and some spices or herbs, to make your food more delicious.

Tent, Pop-Up, Travel Trailer, or RV - What's the Right Type of Camping for You and Your Kids?

Camping can be a fun and great time for a family, but without the right experience, it may not initially be for everyone. Having experienced and upgraded from tent, to pop-up, to travel trailer camping, we'll take you through the pro's and cons of each experience, and show you how just about anyone, can love being outdoors, even when not completely roughing it.

Having a large family can mean activities such as camping or just about any event can have its challenges. Each person whether it's mom, dad, or kids has a set of needs and comforts that they are accustomed to and expect. Camping, particularly tent camping, doesn't afford much in the way of creature comforts and may be enjoyable for some, but isn't always enjoyable for all.

Tent Camping

My family, as most, started our camping experience with a tent. A tent is easy to pack and allows you to take off to a campground in a moments notice, without too much preparation. Though this is an advantage tents have, tents also have a number of disadvantages that are hard to overcome for a large family.

Though tents are advertised in 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10 man sizes, the reality is that fitting any of these amounts of people in a single tent, is next to impossible. This comes to light very quickly on your first trip out.

Another thing that you learn very quickly is the ground is extremely hard, and a tent gets very cold at night. Kids can be rather forthcoming with these two issues; so what I am really saying is they can turn these issues into a much bigger problem than they really are. But, I am going to say with absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever, cross my heart and hope to die; "A significant other would never, ever, have these same issues and would never, ever complain about sleeping on the ground or being in the cold!"

Pop-Up Camper

Though tent camping was an interesting experience for us suburbanites, we still enjoyed being together, the cookouts, campfire stories and all that went along with camping; that is, outside of the sleeping arrangements. This small dilemma had me on a hunt for a better way, and a better way I found.

A friend mentioned, after discussing camping, that they had an older pop-up camper they were looking at getting rid of cheap. For about $500 I was the proud new owner of a 1985 Palomino Pop-up. The camper wasn't free from small issues, but it was functional and overall OK.

Immediately, our camping experience improved. Everyone was sleeping off the ground and the camper added a sink, a stovetop, an indoor table, electric lighting, and a few other small creature comforts that made the transition from city folk to campers a bit easier.

The downsides to a pop-up are, small interior space, limited storage, and no bathroom. Even some pop-ups that do have bathrooms have little to no privacy for their toilets.

Hybrid Travel Trailer

Though the pop-up camper was a good option and we enjoyed the experience with few downsides, I found myself doing the "guy thing" and eyeing/drooling over all of the really cool rigs other people were rolling up to the campgrounds with. After touring a couple campsite neighbors' trailers, I decided to get back on the lookout for something larger and more suited for our big family.

After some time of Craigslist searching, I found a used Hybrid Travel Trailer for $4500. Hybrid means that it has the interior of a hard travel trailer, with the addition of bunks on both ends that fold out like a pop-up camper. This seemed like a good mix of the outdoors and indoors, with all of the amenities and upgrades of a modern trailer.

The major pro's for the travel trailer are, integrated bathroom (this one is a lifesaver for a family), stovetop with oven, TV and radio, plenty of storage, which means you can load up days before your departure if you would like, refrigerator and freezer, heating and air conditioning, and a long list of additional upgrades.

Now I know what you may be saying, "That's not camping" and to a certain degree I would agree. However, by having the trailer we have been able to go on so many weekend trips to places we would have never gone before, and have been able to spend more time in the outdoors than we ever would have without. The hybrid gives us the ability to enjoy ourselves no matter if it starts raining, or if it gets extremely hot or cold.

Though a hybrid has been a great choice for us, there are some considerations for those deciding between a travel trailer, or a hybrid. Hybrids are known to leak some water when they are closed up and stored in winter months. This means maintenance and replacements down the road. Our hybrid is eleven years old and we just had to replace a bunk end due to rot. This was at a cost of $1000 with parts and labor.

Another thing that few are aware of before their purchase is that the bunk ends are made of canvas, like a pop-up camper. The canvas sweats and can drip water onto you when you sleep. You can reduce or eliminate this by unzipping windows, but that introduces cold air. Canvas sweating is very apparent when you run the heater or have a lot of people in the trailer.

Even with these couple of cons, we have had our hybrid trailer for over five years and really love it. We have slept as many as ten people in our hybrid, of course that was six kids and four adults. For us, the hybrid has been a worthwhile investment and we continue to enjoy it to this day.


As much as I love the hybrid, there are many times I consider stepping up to a full-blown traveling domicile, but not for the reason you might expect. It's not for the features, additional comforts, niceties, or otherwise.

The reason I have considered this upgrade (though I most likely will stick to the hybrid) is purely for travelling with six kids. When we go on long trips with the hybrid today, we take everyone in a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV. Everyone fits in the SUV, but long trips can be cramped, cause arguments, and often requires multiple bathroom breaks, and snack/food stops.

An RV on the other hand, provides the ability for passengers to move about, utilize the bathroom if necessary, make food, play games, watch movies, and sleep. This could be a major advantage for those with kids and could make the whole travelling experience much easier.

The disadvantages for an RV are, higher fuel costs, maintenance, storage costs when not in use, maneuverability due to size, and more campsite restrictions.

Whatever you may choose whether it is tent camping, pop-up, travel trailer, or RV; taking the family on regular camping trips can significantly strengthen bonding and relationships. I would definitely recommend starting in the tent though; this will give you a better understanding of roughing it, and whether you, or better yet your family, are made out for that type of camping.

Having the hybrid has changed the way we travel and saves us money on overnight stays. If we are travelling to amusement parks or any other event, we always check to see if there are nearby RV sites where we can hook up. This usually saves us a significant amount on lodging, and is much more comfortable for everyone.

All of these things should be considerations when you are deciding on your flavor of camping. The biggest thing is to just get out there and have fun. Your family will appreciate every minute you spend with them in the outdoors. So just do it!

Why Are Pop Up Tents So Popular?

Yes, it's true.

Pop up tents and pop up shelters are very popular nowadays.

You can spot them everywhere.

When you arrive at the beach you can see pop up shelters of all colors.

If you take a walk near a campsite most of the tents are pop up tents.

If you attend a festival or a concert what you see is a colorful sea of pop up tents.

But why are they so popular then?

Pop up tents are not for seasoned campers!

Ask a seasoned camper and he will answer you that pop up tents are not for real campers. They are for beginners, for first time campers, for greenhorns.

Some of them complain that the fiberglass structure is too weak to stand in strong winds.

Others say that the fabrics used to build them are too light, not insulated and sealed, and even the lighter drizzle makes them leak.

Yet others say that they are not easy to carry on a backpack because their round bags are bulky.

OK. You know what? They are probably right!

These kind of tents are not built for heavy weather conditions or expeditions under extreme.

So why are they so popular?

Because pop up tents are for real people.

They are for people who want to enjoy a night looking at the stars without having to learn how to pitch a tent.

They are for guys who want to attend the concert of their favorite singer and drink a beer with their friends instead of having to deal with poles, stakes and ropes.

Pop up tents are for busy fathers and mothers who want to enjoy a picnic outdoors with their children, even in the backyard, without having to read instruction manuals and camping guides.

Probably most of these people will never become a professional camper. Probably most of these people will never use a tent another time!

Probably most of these people buy a pop up tent because it is not for the pros!

They are regular people and regular people buy pop up tents because:

They are easy to carry. OK, some of the bags can be bulky, but if you are going car camping, or to a festival, or you are planning a backyard campout, who cares about the size of the bag.
Pop up tents are easy to set up. They set up by themselves! Take them out of the bag, throw them out, and they are done.
They are cheaper than any other kind of tent. You can buy a pop up tent for less than one hundred dollars.
They are stronger than many other tents. Probably they will not withstand heavy rains and winds but if they withstand your children's test...
Pop up tents are funny to fold back. Have you ever tried to fold a pop up tent in front of your friends or children?

These are the reasons because pop up tents are so popular. Probably these are the reasons that will convince you to buy one.

There will always be time to become a pro.

Have fun!

The Best 3 Survival Knives

There has always been a heated debate when it comes to the top survival knives currently out there. Survivalists are fanatical when it comes to their tools. When searching for the perfect survival knife, there is whole range of knives to choose and that is where the debate comes from. In order for one to make the best choice, there are three things one should consider when choosing a survival knife, they are; A fixed blade, top-notch steel and a thick blade with heat treatment. These are the three most important characteristics that define the top survival knives.

When taking the above considerations into account, the following knives are the best three in this survivalist's opinion.

The 7 inch KA-BAR

When searching for the three top survival knives, the KA-BAR tops the list. This knife has been tried, tested and has proven to be true to its high accolades. The knife has so much history and its experience in the field is vast so one should not think twice about its reliability. The knife has a 7-inch, 1095 Cro-Van stainless steel/carbon mix blade. The blade is extremely tough and highly durable. Despite the blade's toughness it is still soft enough to have a razor sharp edge. It can come in a number of handles but its Kraton G handle comes highly recommended. Its sheath is a Kydex sheath. This knife is an all-purpose knife used even by the United States Marine Core, one of the most elite fighting forces on the planet.

The Becker BK2

This survival knife has a blade that is a ¼ inch thick and highly tough. It has a full tang design as its handle comes in two pieces of ivory wrapped around raw steel. It is simply a rugged knife. It has a drop point design and its sheath is one of the best designed in the market. The blade of the Becker BK2 is thinner; also, its sheath is nylon, so it's not quite as tough as the KA-BAR, but it's still a very good knife and has a better price point.

The Gerber LMF II Infantry Knife

The Gerber LMF II is one of the best survival knives ever and this is due to Gerber's long history of makin gquality products. Its blade is made of 12C27, super tough, stainless steel and requires very minimal maintenance, if any at all. Its blade is also razor sharp and super thick and makes light of any survival task. The knife has been tried and tested and armed forces around the world regularly use it. Its buttcap is made of tough steel which can be used as a striking weapon or hammer when the need arises. It also has a well-designed and quality sheath.

The above 3 knives fit the bill as the toughest survival knives out there. Each one has its specific benefits, but none of them will leave you wanting for anything more in a real life survival situation.

Best 10 Places to Camp in Arkansas

If you are planning an outing in Arkansas, here is a list of the best 10 places to go camping. Most of these campgrounds have a variety of activities including hiking, swimming, fishing, boating and more. The sites vary so if you need to use a family cabin tent or want room for a privacy shelter be sure to allow yourself enough space to accommodate for that. Quite a few campsites these days have enough room for the larger family cabin tents or even a couple smaller 2-4 person tents or solo tents.

DeGray Lake Campground:
DeGray Lake campground is located in Ouachita Mountains foothills. The visitors have several fun activities at their disposal this includes fishing, boating, scuba diving, and swimming. The campground offers 113 camping sites which are available for reservation and electric hookups. Other extra amenities include flush toilets, swimming beaches, playgrounds, heated showers and a dump station. The camping fees are $12 to $18 per night.

White Rock Campground:
The White Rock campground located in the Boston Mountain range offers exquisite scenery. The campground has several amenities which include 3 natural stone cabins, a lodge which can accommodate up to 30 people, drinking water, vault toilets and picnicking units. Reservations for the cabins and the lodge can be made by calling the White Mountain concessionaires. The camping ground has several fun activities which include hiking, picnicking among others. The camping fees can be accessed from the self-service pay station.

Lake Ouachita State Park:
Lake Ouachita is located on the Ouachita River. There are several fun activities at this park which include fishing, camping, swimming and horse riding. The park has a total of 1106 campsites, 150 picnic sites, 21 recreational sites, 13 swimming beaches, and 24 boat ramps. The camping fees are not specified.

Petit Jean State Park Campground:
This campground has 127 individual camping sites which offer electrical and water hookups and 4 bathhouses. The activities offered in the camping grounds include fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking. Other facilities available include playgrounds, picnic areas and swimming pools which are ideal for families and groups. The camping fees can be accessed on site.

The Buffalo National River:
The Buffalo National River campground set along the Buffalo national river which is a free flowing river and has 112 camping sites which range from hook ups to primitive sites. The campground has several interesting activities for families and groups. These activities include fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and swimming. The camping fees are not specified.

Charlton Campground:
The Charlton campground is located in Walnut Creek. This campground has primitive and utility hookup sites which add up to 57 sites. The campground has several amenities which include an amphitheater, playground, flush toilets, warm showers, and picnic shelters. There are several fun activities available in the campground, these are: fishing, swimming, biking and hiking. The camping fees range from $10.00 to $23 per night depending on the requirements of the visitors.

Bear Creek Lake Campground:
The campground is a 625 acre lake located on top of Crowley's ridge. The campground has a total of 66 sites which include 1 bunkhouse, 12 cabins, 1 group site, 1 lodge, 1 picnic site, 49 utility hookups and other amenities which include a meeting room, vault toilets, boat ramps, restrooms and drinking water. There are several activities enjoyed in the park this includes hiking, picnicking, boating and fishing. The camping fees are posted on the self-service pay station.

Maumelle Campground:
Maumelle campground is located along the Arkansas River. It has 96 camping sites which include electric hookups and 8 group picnic shelters. The campground has several amenities making camping fun, these include hot showers, a dock, a boat ramp, flush toilets, fishing pier and playgrounds. There are several fun activities offered in the park, and they are fishing, boating, hiking, and birding. The camping fees are not specified.

Albert Pike Campground:
Albert Pike campground is located in the northern side of Langley. It has a total of 46 camping sites and 9 of those are crystal camping grounds. The available activities for families and groups are fishing, hiking, and swimming. The campground offers several amenities that make your stay there more comfortable, they include flush toilets, drinking water, and warm shower. This campground is normally open all year round. The camping fees range from $10 to $16 per night and there are no reservations, service is on the first come first serve basis.

Dam Site Lake Campground:
The Dam Site Lake campground is located in the shores of beaver lake in the Ozark Mountains. It has 48 spacious camping sites offering a number of fun activities which include biking, swimming, picnicking, hunting, wildlife viewing and hiking. The campground has several amenities available to the users; they include playgrounds, showers, and flush toilets, dump stations for RV users, drinking water, and picnic areas for the comfort of the visitors. The camping fees are not specified.

Flathead Valley Montana: The Best Camping Site

Looking out for camping options when in Montana? Nothing can beat a camping trip to Flathead Valley in Montana. It is the best place to be when you are planning a camping trip. Located amidst Rocky Mountains along western Montana, this valley is surrounded by the Swan & Mission mountain ranges thus giving it the feel of an adventure spot. Flathead Lake runs at the centre of this valley and is surrounded by a road on either side. No wonder, this place sports a camping look and, offers great many adventure opportunities to all you adventure savvy people. Some of the popular camping opportunities available in the Flathead Valley are listed below. You can pick out the best option for you and, go camping this season.

Glacier National Park

Marked with the right amenities to spoil you and, make your camping fun Glacier National Park is one of the best camping sites in Flathead Valley. You have a lot many campgrounds located very close to the entrance of this national park. The offerings of this campsite include water and electricity for your RVs and, amazing tent spots for your stay. The tents are absolutely relaxing complete with restrooms, showers, laundry and camp store. You also have a swimming pool and hot tub for rejuvenation. Breakfast and barbeque events make it a remarkable experience. What more the West Glacier is actually about 2.5 miles from the entrance of this park. This is an excellent camping destination if you wish to rejuvenate and camp at Flathead Valley.

State Parks

Along the western side of Flathead Valley lies the West Shore State Park that offers a beautiful camping site that's nestled in the beauty of the fir, pine and larch forest. This is a perfect outdoor camping site that offers you fire pits, grill rings, picnic tables and a line of electrical hookups. Both black and grizzly bears will happen to be your guests while you are camping at this place. A boat ramp and, a splendid parking for your boat trailer is placed for you. You will find vault toilets and drinking water facility here but, there are no showers in this camping site. You will get the real camping atmosphere when you visit this camping site.

National Forests

You also have the national forests in Flathead Valley region where there are plenty of campgrounds including Tally Lake which is very near Whitefish. Located along the Tally Lake, this is an amazing camping site complete with tents and space for RV. You are also offered a variety of amenities like flush toilets, potable water tower, picnic tables and grills. You can enjoy swimming and boating in the lake. You can also camp here while visiting the Glacier National Park via the Camas Creek.