Campground Review: Keyhole State Park, WY

Keyhole State Park, WyomingAfter a long day of driving, the last thing you want to hear is that the only campground in a small town is booked. But of course, that’s exactly what we were told when we called the KOA in Devils Tower, WY at 4;30 pm on a Monday. We were only about 50 miles from the KOA, and they are the only game in town. Not wanting to boondock at a rest area on I-90, we pulled out our Woodall’s Directory and found a small listing for Keyhole State Park, about 35 miles away.

Keyhole State Park, Wyoming, countrysideThe Eastern Wyoming countryside approaching Keyhole is dry, scrubby and blazing hot. Keyhole State Park is a reservoir (really, really low right now), in the middle of dry high country. We weren’t expecting much, just a spot for the night that would be better than the dumpy “RV Park” we saw in Moorcroft, the nearest town to Devils Tower.

We pulled up, tired and hungry and expecting a low quality experience. But what we are learning most on this trip is, don’t assume before you get somewhere, and open your eyes before drawing any conclusions on a place. We were relieved when we arrived at Keyhole.

For just $12 a night, you get:

  • huge, shady, level RV spots
  • no hookups, but there’s drinking water (you pump it )
  • clean, new restrooms
  • walking distance to the lakeshore
  • big new picnic tables
  • walking / bike paths
  • a gorgeous prairie and waterfront view

Keyhole is well worth the 9 mile detour off I-90. If all of Wyoming’s state parks are this nice, we are impressed. In comparison to the California State Park System (sorry Ranger Mike and Cindi), Wyoming’s parks rank high above the $20-something a night, no-hookup spots we had in CA, where you have to make reservations six months ahead of time and solitude is impossible because campers are crammed right next to each other.

If you’re in a tight spot on the way to Devils Tower or the Dakotas, be sure to make Keyhole State Park a stop. You won’t regret it.

9 Responses to “Campground Review: Keyhole State Park, WY”

  1. Rene- Bummer on the KOA at Devil’s Tower – you missed Close Encounter of the Third Kind while looking up at the rock…. eeerrrriiiieee

    Sounds like you are having a blast.

  2. Well, hey Mike & Cindi, thanks for the stats on funding. That is REALLY sad. Why don’t more people know about this?

  3. Yes, finding a camping spot in CA is tough! And I hate plaining in advance, I prefer to drive and stay wherever I end up. This is getting very hard to do in CA.

    Rene is a great planer, I already miss her planing our annual camping trip. Of course those were backpacking trips and there are still plenty of great places to camp for free even in CA when you backpack.

    //A

  4. Mike and Cindi July 25, 2007 at 1:39 pm Reply

    on a follow-up on the % of funding for California parks, I received the following:

    The answer is 15/100 of one percent, much less than you recalled. The
    entire California Resources Agency budget is 3.9% of the total General Fund bucket, and State Parks gets 3.8% of that slice, or about 0.15% of the state budget. Out of every $100 in state revenue, parks gets a dime and a nickel.

  5. Mike and Cindi July 25, 2007 at 10:09 am Reply

    No problem about your comments on California’s State Parks.. It’s the crush of visitors that want/need to be in the out of doors and the limited resources..I always thought that Parks had the highest constinuency of any issue’s competing for the general fund $’s.. A number of years ago, a breakdown of the available tax dollar showed that State Parks got less than 1/4 of one cent from that same limited basket for their needs… Prisons, social issues, etc.., get over 75% of that single dollar. Collected fees only represent less than a third of the operating costs..The rest has to be justified from the general fund in competition with every other worthwhile cause…And the political pressure is to, somehow, make parks ‘pay for themselves’. Until we all realize they are just as important as prisons and fund them properly, we will continue to be ‘bulging at the seams’. But everyone takes them for granted, except of course, when their favorite campground turns up full 5 minute’s after they go on sale 6 months in advance..In budget hearings, Parks are like libraries and art programs, always a quick ‘blue pencil’ fix on the Gov’s desk or in the legislature.. People don’t get it until they pull up to the ‘full sign’.

    here’s an recent article on the plight:
    http://origin.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyherald/localnews/ci_6449611

    I hope Wyoming and other states that don’t have the visiting masses (yet) take the hint and put aside important land resources now.

    Have you stayed in any Fed fee areas? And what are your favorite free places to stay..?

    Time to get down from the soap box..

    …and how’s the search for bio-D going..any campground gossip on Methanol? I know its not for your rig, just curious…

    Mike

  6. Bummer…I think we’ll probably miss you. We’ll be passing through Fargo on this Saturday and will be heading to the Brainerd area to stay for 2 weeks or so. We’ll be leaving there around August 5. Then to Sioux Falls for a few days and Des Moines for about 6 weeks. Let me know if you need any help in the Midwest…finding good veggie eats or anything else. 🙂 I’ve spent my entire life around there. I graduated from UND in Grand Forks and was in the military in Fargo. When you get to Minneapolis…I can tell you all kinds of great spots. We love Minneapolis. I think I told you all of this already…but just a reminder. Take care!

  7. You betcha! I love beautiful bargains.

    It would be great to meet you three! How fantastic to see your masterpiece on wheels!

    I’ve been working on a very rough itinerary for the next couple of months, here’s a link to it. It’s incredibly rough, but it should give you an idea. Any feedback on locations to visit greatly appreciated!

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103822376099029194492.0004358ed386c6cf4b1c5&ll=43.519676,-91.012115&spn=15.001302,41.132813&z=5&om=1

    We’ll probably be in Fargo around the 2nd week of August. How about you?

  8. Isn’t it fun to find a beautiful place at the right price? We’re heading back to Minnesota from Montana this Saturday…any chance that our paths might cross? We’re taking I-94 across MT/ND…Billings, Bismarck, Fargo. It would be great to meet you guys!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New three-legged dog movies of Jerry swimming and playing Frisbee - July 22, 2007

    […] we’ve posted some new movies to my three-legged dog videos page. You can see me swim at Keyhole Wyoming State Park and catch frisbees at Devil’s Tower, […]

Leave a Reply