Local lakes, parks, provide space for camping, relaxing outdoors

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With warm spring weather just around the corner in Manhattan, local lakes are preparing for a busy season. Tuttle Creek State Park, Pottawatomie State Fishing Lakes and Pillsbury Crossing all draw fishers, campers and anyone looking to unwind and relax in the Manhattan area.

In addition, each of these locations provide areas for day recreation or overnight camping.

At the Pottawatomie lakes, camping space is fairly limited, but there are no fees for any activities, said Nathan Henry, public lands manager for the lakes. Campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Fishing and fires in the designated rings are permitted, but no alcoholic beverages are allowed.

Pottawatomie State Fishing Lake No. 1 is located five miles north of Westmoreland, Kan., approximately a 40-minute drive northeast of Manhattan. Pottawatomie State Fishing Lake No. 2, located in southwest Pottawatomie County, is just a 25-minute drive away.

Tuttle Creek State Park, just a short 15- to 20-minute drive northeast of Manhattan, is another popular destination for Manhattan residents interested in swimming, canoeing or camping. There are 11 fully functional cabins, 159 campsites with water and electricity, eight with electricity, water and sewage, 24 electric-only sites, 20 electric sites with community water and around 500 primitive campsites, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Phil Hill, sophomore in marketing, frequently visits Tuttle Creek Lake to relax and spend time with friends. He said he and his girlfriend enjoy going to the lake to stargaze, but his best memory happened his freshman year.

“One of the best nights of my freshman year was spent at Tuttle Creek,” Hill said. “We had a guys’ night, and it was a great way to start my college experience bonding with new friends.”

Pillsbury Crossing, approximately a 30-minute drive southeast of Manhattan, is another popular park among the locals. Visitors can fish, hike and canoe at Pillsbury Crossing.

Susie Headrick, freshman in speech pathology, said she enjoys going to Pillsbury Crossing for more reasons than the cool water and hiking paths. Headrick’s grandparents went on their first date at Pillsbury Crossing.

“It makes me feel connected to my grandparents’ relationship,” Headrick said. “I can imagine them walking the trails and having picnics just as I do. I love spending time there. It’s also a good place to go get your mind off things, and take a break from reality.”

Pillsbury Crossing is free to visitors but does not include sites for overnight camping.

All of these locations can be great places to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family. Each park has specific rules and regulations to ensure a positive experience for all visitors. For more information on specific park rules or more information, visit kdwpt.state.ks.us/news/State-Parks.

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