Little Land of Lakes: Pyramid State Park

I think this year in glamping will bring some exciting challenges like, “That looks like a road on Google Maps…let’s try it!” and, “Well, this road is pretty narrow, good thing Honeysuckle Manor isn’t very wide!” and, “Oops, forgot the bug spray, I’m sure the mosquitoes aren’t that bad here.”  I mean, one could let these challenges cause excessive stress sweating, and they do, but we’ve been diving in head first.  And a good place to try all of them is Pyramid State Park.

 

We headed to this park, the largest state park in Illinois, to get away for a night.  TJ and I are stoked to hone our boondocking skills (that’s glamping without water and electrical hookups) and Pyramid is a nearby and low traffic park with three campgrounds, none of which have any hookups.  The park offers dozens of hiking trails, lovely little lakes, and equestrian trails and camping. The park was once a surface coal mining operation, and back in the day one would just leave the unused material in piles and the holes unfilled.  Over the decades, however, the piles and holes were reclaimed by young forest and rainwater.  Roads wind over hills and between lakes transporting you to a foreign landscape.

 

 

Bravely following the Google Maps directions we apparently took the less well-traveled north entrance.  Here’s a good-to-know-tip:  that’s not a great way to get in with an RV.  Anything bigger than our 22′ Sport would have been tough.  The road is gravel and is a winding single lane with very little or no shoulder–troublesome for a one lane road!  This “minimalist road” stretches all the way to the main entrance (which is, apparently…ahem…on the south side of the park), where it eventually transitions to paved road near the headquarters building and main equestrian parking area.  If you are bringing an RV for camping, here’s another lesson-learned:  The Heron Campground is designed for RV camping, but it’s not my favorite view.  While the back of the site is wooded, the other side faces open farm fields, not quite the escape we were looking for.  The North Campground is located along lake shores, but only has one or two pads large enough for even a small RV.  Boulder Campground is located in the heart of the park and is lovely.  Again, there are only a couple of sites large enough for an RV, but the magic spot, Site 11; it’s huge and tucked away from everyone else.  If you are lucky enough to be there in late spring, it smells of honeysuckle (it’s actually a seriously invasive shrub that really chokes out the native understory, but the smell, the smell!).  Get that site!

 

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Now let’s talk about fishing.  We are horrible fisher people.  Horrible.  But it hasn’t deterred us yet.  There are several lakes with little docks and it would be a really fun place to get a canoe into the water, even for this nautically-nervous-nellie, the lakes are so still!  So, we cast and cast again.  There were lots of little fish and we talked to several boaters who had much better luck than we did.  No matter…there was water, and that’s all the kids really cared about.

 

 

I’m dreaming of getting back to Site 11 and the still waters of the lakes.  Any camping plans for any of you this summer?  How about some fishing tips?

 

 

Happy glamping and cheers!

Laura