We did a 2 week "front range" loop in 2010 and thoroughly enjoyed it - coming from Illinois, so about the same distance as you. 4 nights at RMNP - great scenery & hiking, had an awesome site in the C loop of Moraine overlooking the valley where we would just sit & relax in the morning (unusual for go-go folks like us). 4 nights at Mueller S.P., used as a base for Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods,etc. 3 nights at private CG in Canon City, Royal Gorge & rafting. 2 nights at San Luis Lakes S.P., hit the Great Sand Dunes N.P. (a don't miss!!), train ride out of Alamosa to a cool amphitheater in the mountains with an afternoon bluegrass extravaganza headlined by Michael Martin Murphey (remember "Wildfire"?). Great trip, enough time in each spot to actually be relaxing, even the teenagers ended up having a good time (whether they wanted to admit it or not). Starting at RMNP and going all the way down to the Grand Canyon would probably be too much driving for the time you have, pick one or the other.
The "quiet side" refers to the bay side of the peninsula as opposed to the lake side.
Actually the "quiet side" is the lake side. Most of the "touristy" type towns are on the bay side, probably because the beach areas are calmer since they are on the bay instead of Lake Michigan. The peninsula is only about 10 miles wide so it's easy enough to get from one side to another.
Great area to visit, we go every year over Labor Day. 3 days will probably leave you planning a return trip, lots to do. Try to make it to a local tradition, the Door County fish boil. We like the one at the Square Rigger in Jacksonport, right down the road from where you are staying.
Also agree that you're better off getting through Chicago on the first day if you can. Just over the Wisconsin border is Bong State Recreation area, part of the Wisconsin State Park system. Should have no problem accomodating your rig and should have openings on a Thursday night. The Wisconsin state campgrounds do fill up on weekends during the summer, we always make reservations just to be sure. Check availability on Reserve America.
Four Mile Creek State Park. Beautiful roomy sites, right on Lake Ontario, 10 to 15 min via highway to the Falls, plus your entry pass lets you park free at the State Park parking lot next to the Falls. Not FHU, but electric sites, water available from spigots all around, and dump station.
Custer State Park is great - if you want something a bit more rustic and don't need all of the amenities the Black Hills National Forest will fit the bill. We camped at the Sheridan Lake campground and it was awesome, woods and water just like you asked for. Good central location for all of the activities in the area.
Looks like a winner. One suggestion - in between Durango and Colorado Springs, head north from Alamosa and spend a day at Great Sand Dunes National Park. I guarantee it's like nothing you've seen out west before. The CG there is pretty rustic, but right next to it is San Luis Lakes State Park, very nice with all electric sites. Highly recommended, would be a shame to miss since you're basically going right by it. Take a look at the website and you'll see what I mean.
Looking at the map in the link above, the sites in Shady Lane are nicely wooded so you have better separation from your neighbors but might be tight for your MH. The ones in Twin Oaks are more open and will probably be easier to fit into, probably a bit more level too. I think that almost all of the sites are set up with 1 power pole for 2 sites (more cost effective) - the site detail section on the reservation website will give you the exact distance to the pole, some are a lot closer than others, numbers are pretty accurate. I picked up a 30' 30 amp extension cord to give me flexibility in picking sites. Great park, nice campground and awesome hiking trails. Enjoy your visit.
Also highly recommend Four Mile Creek State Park, nice sites, some right on the lake, close enough to the falls (15-20 min?) and the big bonus of free parking at the State Park lot right at the falls on the US side. Definitely do both sides - better view of Horseshoe on the CA side but the Cave of the Winds tour on the US is way cool - you walk out on a deck and stand right under the Bridal Falls. CA side seemed more commercial right at the falls while the US is a State Park so there are some nice hiking trails and it seemed like you could actually get closer to the falls - the town on the US side may be more commercial but we didn't spend any time there. 1 1/2 to 2 days is good and don't forget your passports to cross the bridge. We actually needed them on the way there since we took the northern route, 94 to 69 through Lansing & Flint instead of 80/90 - I think it was a little shorter and we saved a bunch on tolls. Hershey was OK but 3 days is too much - we didn't do the park , if you're doing Cedar Point there's no need. Some time in the Amish area (Lancaster, Bird-in-Hand) and Gettysburg would be a much better choice, kids should be old enough to start appreciating it.
We've stayed in the area a number of years when our kids were attending camp at Concordia Language Village and really enjoyed it. Lake Bemidi State Park is very nice, wooded sites, nice lake with beach, and close to town. We actually prefer Itasca State Park which is about 35 mi from Bemidji but is a much larger park with a lot more campsites available and a lot more activities in the park. One of the highlights is the headwaters of the Mississippi - it officially starts when it exits Lake Itasca and you can walk across it - very nice visitor center with all kinds of interesting history. The park is about 30,000 acres with lots of hiking, paved bike trails, boat rental, a huge number of smaller lakes scattered about, lodge & dining, just a great place. If you want to do wildlife photography, birding & fishing you can't go wrong there, everything you need in one place. Closest major town to Itasca is probably Park Rapids. Check out the websites for the parks and the towns to get a feel for the area. We love it up there - unfortunately it's way too far for our usual long weekend trips, we'd drop the older kids at camp and then stay in the area for the 2 week session with our youngest, great relaxing vacation.
We were in either 50 or 51 (can't remember, 6 years ago) and it was great. It was in the cul-de-sac/loop at the end of the campground so there wasn't any traffic and we could walk back from our site into some cool hiking and climbing. Pull through site - well, actually parallel park off the road with your door facing the site - shown in profile picture below. As far as your question in the other thread, I got water at the bathroom in my 6 gal jug, just filled up each time we left the site and that worked fine. Bathroom is pretty close to the loop, flush toilets but cold water only. We dumped on the way out at one of the CG's in town for $5. One thing to remember is that it's something like 18 miles from the park entrance to the CG - but a very scenic drive. Just want to make sure that if you're low on gas you take care of that before you head back for the night - I didn't one time and was sweating a bit in the morning hoping I wouldn't have to coast into town! Anyway, enjoy - one of the most awesome parks we've ever stayed at.
We had our annual group outing at Peninsula SP in Door County WI. Perfect weather, lots of bike riding, fun at the Sister Bay Marina Fest, and multiple visits to Not Licked Yet for great frozen custard and Czarnuszka Soup Bar for awesome homemade soups. Our potluck theme this year was Polish so we feasted on noodles with kraut, pierogis, homemade cabbage rolls, grilled kielbasa, and poppyseed kolachkis - ethnic comfort food at it's finest. Of course with all of that cabbage and sausage, the campfire did approach Blazing Saddles status ...
I can't tell you much about Michigan but we go to Door County every year, so...
1. For hiking, biking, and kayaking Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek is nirvana. 3500 acres with trails of all levels, 10+ miles of wooded paved/gravel bike trails plus lots of off-road mountain bike trails, and located right on the bay with a nice swimming beach and kayak rentals readily available. There's even a golf course in the park if you're so inclined. Might be the best park in the state, and as such pretty tough to get in to for camping, but a day visit works too.
2. For food, at the edge of the park (a good reward for that bike ride) is Not Licked Yet frozen custard. Sinfully rich, great sundaes, and excellent sandwiches too.
3. Just up the road in Ephraim is a hidden gem that just opened last year. Czarnuszka Soup Bar - amazing homemade soups with an Eastern European style, tiny cafe but well worth seeking out. Can also get them to go. And you won't have to wait for 2 hours like at Al Johnson's.
4. Just south of Egg Harbor in Carlsville is Door Peninsula Winery. Used to be in a cute little red schoolhouse but it's grown quite a bit over the years. Free tasting, wide selection of fruit and grape wines, big shop with all kinds of wine paraphenalia. They've also added a distillery with craft gin & vodka and an upscale restaurant (Bistro 42) - haven't eaten there but it looks really good.
5. Finally, you can't visit Door County without doing a fish boil. We like the Square Rigger Galley in Jacksonport, on the Lake Michigan side. Lovely setting right on the lake, plenty of good food, not rushed like some of the boils in the bigger places. Nothing like the sight of that fireball when the #2 diesel hits the flames!
Those are some of our favorite regular stops. There's a ton of other things to do and see on the peninsula but we always end up staying pretty close to the park just because it's so nice and there's so much to do there. Been going up there for almost 30 years and still never tire of it.
St. Louis RV Park, right in town. Nothing fancy, pretty much just a parking lot with hookups, but well kept, safe (police station across the street), very nice owners, and couldn't be more convenient to everything you want to see in St. Louis.
We stayed there last August - I believe we got there around 4 pm on a Monday and there were still sites available, although all of the prime ones on the lake were taken. Nice little park, some of the sites are a bit tight and not real level but very wooded and scenic and convenient to town. We took our bikes on the ferry over to Madeline Island and had a nice day riding around - check out Tom's Burned Down Cafe for a real taste of local color.
I was going to suggest Lake Fairfax park in Reston - but I just looked at the website and they are closed this year while they renovate the bathroom facilities. Too bad, very nice wooded park with a water park attached. We stayed there a few years ago really enjoyed it, a little fartehr out but still pretty easy access. we actually found it easier and cheaper to drive into the city and park at the Reagan International Trade building. Maybe for your next trip!
Palace is right in town, not too bad for a private park as far as the site sizes & shading if you go a bit farther back from the front. We usually stay at Mississippi Palisades S.P., about 20 minutes south of town. Pretty nice wooded sites, electric only, some very nice hiking trails with views of the river from high bluffs. Farther down the road but very nice is the Thompson Causeway COE campground, right on/in the river - if you don't mind a longer drive into town it's worth consideration. Apple River Canyon is quite a bit farther and doesn't have enough other stuff in the area to make it worth the ride - Chain of Lakes is practically back in Chicago.
Galena is definitely a good destination, lots of stuff to do in town and a beautiful area with lots of rolling hills. If you're there in the summer check out the Alpine Slide at Chestnut Mountain resort - you ride a sled down a fiberglass track on the ski hill.