State Parks

I recently went on a scouting trip to find and scout out a fairly large and well praised state park.  The state park was said by many to be 'roughing it'.  After a long drive through a lot of native reserves and run down towns, I finally arrived at the state park.  The entrance road was not well kept,  large pot holes and a rusting guard rail led me up to the gatehouse.  The 16 year old (or there abouts) 'gate keeper' at the gate house gladly took my 15 dollars for a day pass, however could not offer any advice on where to go in the park to see good camp grounds.  She also neglected to give us any map.  Apparently state parks do not have much signage at all.  We drove for 2 hours in circles trying to find a camp site.  We passed many group camp grounds - wide open fields with a 'comfort station' in the center, and some pop machines, and basketball courts.  The 'beach' was quaint too,  sand trucked in and dumped at the side of a man made lake.  With swimming pools, water slides, and more basketball courts scattered around the beach.  But alas, there was no sign of any camp ground.  There were signs for many 'cabin' camp grounds.  These cabins were fully constructed cottages, with plumbing and gas heat / stove.  There were hundreds of cabins that we saw randomly through the park.  most of them numbered 1-50  We would come across various un named cabin camp grounds and they all said 'cabins 1-31'  or 'cabins 1-25'.  With all of these un-named branches of cabins, i am sure people get confused easily.

Eventually after driving for 2 hours, and not seeing any park employees, we came across another park entrance.  We stopped to talk to the 18 year old 'gate keeper' at this entrance.  She was kind enough to hand us a map, and pointed to a camp site which she claimed to be the best, with the most secluded sites.

With that in mind we traveled another 30 minutes to said camp site.  Upon reading the map apparently we only saw a few camp grounds, everything else appeared to be cabins.  Of course camping in a cabin is great, because it brings in more money for the park, and you can camp all year. That is if you call that camping.  Frankly it is more like 'going to the cottage'.  When we got to this camp site we were greatly dissapointed.

In Canada, camp sites in parks are always located beside the water.  I have yet to be at a campsite in Canada where the sites were not within a minute or so walk from the water / beach area.  These camp sites in this state park were supposedly the closest campsite to one of the parks main bodies of water (another man made lake).  But they were 3 miles up a hill far from the lake.

Upon reaching the camp ground in question, I was dissapointed.  The sites were fairly close together, and fairly open.  most sites can accomidate 2 or 3 large RV's side by side.  There was also almost no underbrush to speak of, and you could easily see neighbouring sites through the sides or back of each site.  Now for some people I suppose this might be 'roughing it'  The washrooms were a stunning 250 meters from any camp site, and there were water taps every 3 or 4 camp sites.  This site however was similar to some Canadian sites in the facilities (bathroom, laundry station and water taps), and I did not see a basketball court anywhere.  But privacy wise it was no where close.  The worst Ontario park was likely still better then this.

Ya see,  My idea of camping is either:

A: A camp site which is completely closed in by trees and undergrowth, which has a narrow driveway which you can park your car to block passer bys from seeing into your site.  The site is small, but able to fit 3 tents and 2 cars with some ease.  Also it should be fairly close to a body of water and/or hiking trails or scenic overlooks

B: A camp site which you must use a canoe to paddle into.  You are remote and do not have the luxury of a bathroom or pre filtered water.  So you must filter / boil your water, and go to the bathroom in the undergrowth.

C: A camp site which you can Jeep into through off roading trails.  Also with no facilities, and no other people around.

Sadly it seems the American version of camping has turned into more of a RV fest then anything else.  Large mobile homes which are fully decked out with their own facilities.  In Ontario parks, they have special camp grounds for RV's and they remain seperate from the normal camp sites (of which there are more of).  Which is smart.  Really you can park an RV anywhere to camp.  Why fill up booking spots in a popular camp ground with people who could just as easily park in the local Walmart parking lot, and drive into the park every day for day use?  Also, Algonquin park for example has maybe 60 cabins in total, scattered through out the park.  Usually old ranger cabins, these are fairly remote and you must take back roads to get to them.  In this case a cabin is cool, and worth the money.  You are out in the wilderness alone.  In the case of American park cabins, you are basically in a camp ground which has been turned into a cabin subdivision.  There is no privacy and you are always close to people.  Cabins are not for campers, they are for hunters, and perhaps that is the main attraction for american parks these days?  But none the less, I am saddened to not be able to find any decent parks in the WNY area.  If anyone reading this has any suggestions please let me know :)