Parked RVs

An American flag waves in the wind near parked RVs at the Topeka/Capitol City KOA Journey. Credit: Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal

Bare-bones camping where participants strive to leave no trace, cabins with enough beds to bunk large families and luxury RVs that can cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars are among the sights in and around Topeka, Kan., this summer, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Campgrounds and RV parks often have inviting swimming pools, playgrounds and recreational areas. Bathrooms in many areas are as nice as those found in hotels.

Roughing it has evolved into a myriad of experiences. And it is seeing a rise in popularity.

Emporian Brian Muench, who is camping at Lake Shawnee Campground, is RVing in a Sun Lite travel trailer. In the back of his truck, he carries two mountain bikes (just for show, he said) and canoes for him and his wife to hit the water.

Camping allows him to get away and let go of his worries, he said.

“When I’m home, I always feel like there’s something I need to do,” Muench said. “I get out here, once I get everything set up, I can paint, listen to music or read a book.”

Camping’s popularity grew soon after Kansas became a state

Though it hadn’t been that long since settlers were roughing it for real, recreational camping first became popular in the United States around the late 1800s.

Essays written by Scottish American naturalist John Muir, who lived for a time in Yosemite National Park, and Thomas Hiram Holding, who wrote “The Camper’s Handbook,” helped spur interest.

Shortly after the first automobiles were built, recreational vehicles became a part of the scene. One of the first models was a Model-T Ford Roadster built in 1915.

Places to camp in and near Topeka in 2022

Fast forward to today where dozens of RV parks and campsites in northeast Kansas alone offer places to get away and enjoy the great outdoors.

That doesn’t mean campers can just drop in and find a spot.

“It’s always best to have a reservation,” said Charlie Reaser, co-owner of Topeka/Capital City Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Journey. “In the last few years, the increased number of RVs on the road, and even tents, has made it to where, if you don’t have reservations, quite often you’re not gonna find the spot.”

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