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Camping Crawford State Park in Kansas

Crawford State Park Kansas Camping

Camp Kansas: We’re talking with David Goble, who’s the park manager at Crawford State Park in Kansas. How are you doing today, David?

Goble: Good, how about yourself?

Camp Kansas: Good. We’ve got a gorgeous day here today.

Goble: Yeah, it’s beautiful in southeast Kansas as well.

Camp Kansas: Tell me how long the park has been there, a little bit of history.

Goble: We’re one of the more mature state parks in Kansas. Construction on this property was actually started in 1934. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and it’s been operated from the state as a state fishing lake until 1965. Then intensive development took over and we’ve been a state park ever since.

Crappie caught from the Lake at Crawford State Park. Image courtest of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Crappie caught from the Lake at Crawford. Image courtest of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Camp Kansas: What are some of the main reasons you think that people choose to camp there?

Goble: It’s a mature park, which means for Kansas, we’ve got a lot of overstory shade. The campsites have all been recently renovated within the last 10 years to where the majority are level, concrete, 50 amp. With any mature park, you just get a beautiful setting. The other thing is we’ve got a real nice group of folks that camp down here. It’s a very friendly park. People are outgoing; just a very pleasant place to be.

Camp Kansas: That’s always nice, too, isn’t it? If you get a chance to run into some other campers and meet a couple people, and if everyone’s welcoming like that, I think it makes a pretty big difference.

Goble:It is. It’s a safe park where kids can play. We don’t have hardly any thefts or anything of that nature. It’s just a really nice place to spend time.

Camp Kansas: What sorts of activities do you guys offer for campers there?

Goble: We have everything from traditional camping to, for the kids, we have playgrounds. During May and June and part of July we do campground programming, which is everything from traditional fireside programs that do natural interpretation to we do a paddle sports to where we take people kayaking on the lake in the summer months.

There’s also a lot of trails around the park. There’s a five-mile mountain bike trail that goes around the lake. We’ve got some historical walking trails. The two that come to mind, the CCC Memorial, which is a self-guided interpretive trail that has pictures and kind of tells the story of the lake and the CCC men who built it. The other one is the Spider Leg Bridge Trail, which is the site of a pre-Civil War and post-Civil War military outpost. There’s some foundations of cabins down there, and also interpret some of the unique history of the area.

Camp Kansas: When people leave the park, let’s say someone’s camping there for the weekend, where do they usually go in the area? Are there other activities or other areas to see around there?

Goble: We’re real fortunate down here. Southeast Kansas was settled from east to west, so we’re in the older portion of the state. There’s a lot of history around here. Just to the north of us is Fort Scott, which is a national historic site. They have the fort restored to its glory. To the south, we have Big Brutus, which is a huge coal mining shovel. This area south and east of here was strip mined at the turn of the century, and that’s a historic memorial to the mining history down here.

If you go west of here to Chanute, there’s the Osa and Martin Johnson Safari Museum. They were naturalists that went to Africa around the turn of the century and took emotional pictures and have documented a lot of the history of Africa. Went on safari with a camera instead of a gun.

Camp Kansas: Cool. We’ll put links to all those places on the website. Some of the more technical stuff for camping there: can people bring their own firewood when they come in?

Goble: Yes. There’s no restrictions right now in Kansas on firewood. We’re in pretty good shape here.

Camp Kansas: And do you guys sell ice or any foodstuffs in the office?

Goble: We have a concession here at the park that sells convenience items, ice, and then there’s a small restaurant here as well.

Camp Kansas: Oh, handy. Do you guys have any group sites?

Goble: Yes, we have one group campground. It has ten 50-amp sites at it, plus the shelter house and the large group fire ring.

Group camping under the toadstool at the Morning Glory Cabin.
Group camping under the toadstool at the Morning Glory Cabin.

Camp Kansas: Are your sites reservation, or are they first-come, first-served?

Goble: Right now we’re at 80% reservation, and that’s all through ReserveAmerica.com.

Camp Kansas: Okay. My last question for you, a little bit of insider info for the visitors: if you could spend one night in the campground, which campsite would you choose?

Goble: Oh, that’s tough. I’ve been here 32 years, and I’ve had the pleasure of building most of the campsites out here. And we didn’t even talk about the rental cabins that we have as well.

Camp Kansas: Let’s talk about them.

Goble: If I was spending a night in the park, I would stay at Campsite 132 in Oak Point Campground. The reason that is is we still have kids at home, and it’s an area where a lot of families go, and there’s a playground that the campsites are semi-circled around. Overstory shade, beautiful.

If I was staying at one of our cabins, if it was just my wife and I wanting a weekend getaway, I’d stay at the Landing. It’s waterfront with carved stone steps down into the lake. And if I was coming out here with the family, I’d stay with Shady Rest. It’s one of our larger cabins and it accommodates big groups. But any of our cabins, they’re all right on the waterfront. If you can’t throw a softball out into the lake, then you can’t throw a softball. I mean, they are positioned right on the waterfront.

Camp Kansas: That is great information. That’s the kind of stuff we’re always looking for at 50 Campfires. One of those insider tips that can help you get a better experience when you head out.

Goble: And there’s all kinds of great seasons to camp. When I camp, I love the fall. It’s a beautiful time in the park. As I said, we have lots of overstory shade, so we’re looking at beautiful fall colors. The campgrounds tend to be a little bit slower at that time, but still you get the early evenings and a little bit of nice chill so you can sit around the fire and just enjoy the outdoors.

Camp Kansas: That’s making me want to get away from my desk in a big way. [laughs] All right, well, that’s about all I have for you today, David. Thanks a ton for chatting with us about Crawford State Park. Much appreciated.

Goble: If you ever get in our part of the woods, come down and we’ll treat you right.

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