Thursday, July 26, 2007

Top 10 Central US Picnic Spots

Picnic season is upon us and seeking the best picnic location is a sport for many. The following are the 10 best picnic locations in the Central United States. Organized by state, they’re evaluated by scenery, accessibility, and amenities.


Nebraska might not top your list of scenic states but a visit to Scotts Bluff National Park is sure to change your mind. Eight hundred feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff is a natural landmark and has served as the path marker for those on the Oregon, California, Mormon, and Pony Express Trails. Today, Scotts Bluff National Monument preserves 3,000 acres of unusual land formations, which rise over the prairie land below.
Picnic at the well-appointed visitor’s center and enjoy the scenic views. After lunch, you can hike the Saddle Rock Trail, drive to the summit, visit the Oregon Trail Museum, and take a step back in time to relive life on the Oregon Trail during Living History programs on summer weekends.


Pikes Peak Colorado? Nope, visit Pikes Peak State Park near Marquette, Iowa. This park offers fantastic picnicking opportunities where you can enjoy some of the best views in the Midwest from the overlooks and trail viewing platforms.
In addition to being an ideal picnic location, Pikes Peak State Park has been called a hiker's delight. On its trails, you will find sheer walls of Decorah limestone, and fossil remains including brachiopods, gastropods and cephalopods and no hike is complete without a view of the amazing Bridal Veil Falls.


Looking for a place to picnic, run, hike, canoe, fish, camp, bird watch, ride horses, hunt, and scuba dive in the middle of Illinois? Look no further than Kickapoo State Recreation Area near Danville, Illinois.

Named after the Kickapoo, a Native American Tribe, this area has a long and rich cultural history. In fact, many archaeological excavations have provided evidence of a prehistoric village on the Middle Fork River near the park.


Smack in the middle of this flat landers state you’ll find Kanopolis State Park in Marquette. The park features a full-service marina, beaches, picnic areas, and trails for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. There is something for everyone.


Pattison State Park features the highest waterfalls in Wisconsin and the fourth highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. In addition to this fantastic landmark, Pattison has three picnic areas with tables, grills, water, and rest rooms. The largest is near the 300-foot sand beach on Interfalls Lake, which also offers a sunning area, and well appointed bathhouse. The 1,436-acre park also has nature programs and guided hikes, a nature center, camping, 9 miles of hiking trails, and abundant wildlife.

Wyalusing State Park offers 170 picnic tables in open shelters. Wyalusing State Park, 500 feet above the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, is one of Wisconsin's oldest parks. You can visit Indian burial mounds, canoe, and spend hours bird watching. It's a place to go for fishing, boating, bicycling, picnicking, and enjoying nature.


The Katy Trail State Park, which was built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad, allows visitors today to travel through some of the most scenic areas of the state.
Though there aren’t any designated picnic tables or locations, the smooth, level grade is ideal for bikes or wheelchairs, and the trailheads make restful picnic spots.

After your picnic enjoy a hike along the route of the Missouri River. The trail travels through a variety of landscapes and is an ideal location to spend the afternoon.


Twin Bridges State Park, near Fairland Oklahoma, is known for a country atmosphere, excellent fishing, lighted boat ramps, campgrounds, lake huts, playgrounds, volleyball court, horseshoe pits and of course amazing picnic facilities. These picnic facilities provide tables, individual shelters and group picnic shelters.

At the opposite end of the state you’ll find Lake Texoma State Park. This 1,882-acre park is Oklahoma's second largest lake, and one of the premier fishing locations in the Southwest. In addition to fishing, the park offers swimming, camping, picnic areas, horseback riding, trail rides, hiking, playgrounds for the children, hiking trails, riding stables, full service marina and guide fishing services.


When in Arkansas you must visit the Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area. The AHRA is home to the Arkansas River, one of the world's most popular whitewater rivers for kayaking and rafting. In addition to water sports there are abundant opportunities for other recreational activities including hiking, wildlife watching, mountain biking, and of course picnicking.

Collegiate Peaks offers a panoramic view of the Arkansas River Valley. For group picnics there is one covered pavilion with 6 picnic tables and two covered pavilions with one picnic table each.

Some fun things to take while picnicking are cookies, barbecue ribs and don't forget that fresh lettuce on your sandwiches!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Top 10 Southeast Picnic Spots in the United States

Picnic season is upon us and seeking the best picnic location is a sport for many. The following are the 10 best picnic locations in the Southeast United States. Organized by state, they’re evaluated by scenery, accessibility, and amenities.

West Virginia

The Highland Scenic Highway, a designated National Scenic Byway, has four developed scenic overlooks each with picnic tables, rest rooms, and a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Highland Scenic Highway is the region's highest road - at 4,500 feet above sea level. Interested in a little activity after your meal? Many trailheads are located near each overlook.

North Carolina

Falls Lake State Recreation area, near Wake Forest, offers picnic areas at several locations including:

· Beaverdam
· Highway 50
· Rollingview
· Sandling Beach

All four areas offer outdoor grills, drinking water, restrooms, and tables.

South Carolina

South Carolina is one of those amazing states that simply begs to be explored, however many of the state parks require reservations for the picnic shelters. One spectacular location, available without reservation is Chattooga Picnic Area located in Sumter National Forest. A grand stone and timber picnic shelter provides a reprieve from the summer heat and a curving boardwalk meanders beside a cool streamside forest.


Welcome to the rolling green hills of the Chattahoochee Oconee National Forest. Visit the Brasstown Bald Picnic area to take part in all that the forest has to offer. Brasstown Bald offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and access to several trailheads ranging in difficulty from easy to moderately hard. The visitor’s center, a half-mile hike from the picnic area, offers a view from atop the highest mountain in the forest.


Head to the southernmost tip of Florida and you’ll run into a chain of barrier islands extending off the southern tip of Florida in warm, tropical waters otherwise known as the Florida Keys. Look no further than John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo. This park features three picnic and swimming areas, including Cannon Beach where you can find the remnants of an early Spanish shipwreck about 100 feet offshore. Far Beach is the place to relax beneath palm trees and swim in calm waters but the main attraction is an underwater park where you can view the coral reefs and sea grass beds by snorkeling, scuba diving, or taking a glass bottom boat tour.


Monte Sano State Park Picnic Area offers three picnic areas that include playgrounds, hiking and biking trails, restrooms, grills, and wheelchair access. Additionally the park offers fishing, a space and rocket center complete with an IMAX theatre, and if golf is your thing then bring your clubs and play a few holes on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.


Pinson Mounds State Park consists of at least 15 earthen mounds, a geometric enclosure, habitation areas and related earthworks in an area that incorporates almost 1,200 acres. Pinson Mounds is a national historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to the archeological wonders, the park offers 24 individual picnic areas. Each picnic spot has a table that seats six to eight people and a grill. There are also two large picnic shelters that can accommodate up to 50 people each.


Mammoth Caves National Park. Eat underground? No. But the Mammoth Caves National Park offers Picnic sites at several locations in the park. The Headquarters Picnic Area is located north of the main Visitor Center parking area. Picnic tables are also available at Maple Springs Day-Use Area, Houchins Ferry Picnic Shelter, Dennison Ferry Day-Use Area and Sloan's Crossing Pond.
After your picnic you can take advantage of the many activities that Mammoth Caves has to offer. Of course you can take one of the many cave tours; you can hike, bike, ride your horse, canoe and kayak, take a riverboat ride, watch a film, and stay late to enjoy a campfire program.


Chewalla Lake Recreation Area, located inside Holly Springs National Forest is an ideal setting for family fun and fishing. Chewalla Lake is for those want a natural, tranquil experience with those important amenities that make it easy to please the entire family. Picnic, fish, hike, picnic, or simply lie on the lawn and enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds, Chewalla Lake offers it all.
Picnickers will enjoy each of Chewalla Lake's 40 picnic units, which feature a table and grill and a nearby trash receptacle. A covered group picnic pavilion sheltering eight tables can be reserved for $40. The picnic area is handicapped accessible.


Slip out of the big easy and visit Lake D'Arbonne State Park. This 655 acre park comes complete with pine forests, rolling hills, five fishing piers, and a beautiful lake. The visitor’s center offers a swimming pool and a tennis complex. Picnic pavilions are available, or bring your favorite blanket and enjoy this fantastic park the old fashioned way.