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Signs of Summer: Sleeping Under the Stars

Parks & the Great Outdoors, Road Trips Add comments
South Haven KOA

South Haven KOA

Summertime for us is all about sleeping under the stars. Here are our top five campgrounds, each less than a gas tank away.

South Haven KOA
Although not exactly in South Haven, or on the beach, this family-run campground has blueberries for the picking along with a very nice pool.  The tent area is set back in a small thicket of trees near a fishing pond far removed from the RVs. Nearby are excellent beaches along with busy South Haven and St. Joseph.  39397 M-140, Covert, Michigan, (269)764-0818, southhavenkoa.com

Kettle Moraine Southern Unit
About two hours north of the city, near Whitewater, is the answer to your neighbor’s summer home in Lake Geneva. Besides fairly private camp sites, the state park offers a decent enough beach, boat rentals, nearby ski trails repurposed for mountain biking in the summer, and the thousand-mile-plus Ice Age National Scenic Trail.  While a summer home in Lake Geneva will set you back at least a couple hundred thousand dollars, camping (with firewood and marshmallows) is about $30 a night. S91 W39091 Highway 59, Eagle, Wisconsin, (262)594-6200, website for campground

Mississippi River viewed from Pikes Peak State Park

Mississippi River viewed from Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park
Located in the mountainous (or at least hilly) northeast quadrant of Iowa, this park offers stunning views of the Mississippi along with the very impressive Effigy Mounds National Monument. The national monument contains dozens upon dozens of prehistoric mounds built up to resemble eagles, bears and other animals. Also nearby is the kitschy Spook Cave with their guided boat cave tours. All of this should lead to interesting ghost stories around the campfire interrupted only by the distant rumbling of a freight train as well as the answering call of a lone coyote. 32264 Pikes Peak Road, McGregor, Iowa, (563)873-2341, website for state park

Starved Rock State Park
Just ninety miles west of the city, the cool canyons of Starved Rock are the perfect getaway from the dog days of summer. And if you get tired of hotdogs over the fire, there is always the lodge for comfort food and live music at the bar. 2668 E 875th Road, Oglesby, Illinois, (815)667-4726, website for state park

Mississippi Palisades State Park
Maybe the best-kept secret in Illinois. Resting on the confluence of the Mississippi and Apple River, this large campground has two trail systems, one a lot less developed than the other. A couple of towering rock formations might tempt the more serious climber, and you are far enough away from the city that on a clear night you can spy the Milky Way. 16327A IL Route 84, Savanna, Illinois, (815)273-2731, website for state park 

—Noel Schecter

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