My friend and I are taking a roadtrip from Indiana to Utah to visit family. We want to take 3 or 4 days to get there. We are planning on taking I-70 as I have heard there is a lot to see and do. We will both have our children with us so any suggestions of campgrounds with swimming pools, playgrounds, etc would be greatly appreciated. We plan on stopping in St. Louis to see the arch. Is there anything else there that would be fun for kids (they are all under 6)? We found a campground in Kingdom City MO (6 hours first day). Between there and Denver we aren't sure where to stop. Maybe somewhere mid-Kansas. Also what should we go see in Kansas? We have both been to Denver but stayed with friends who no longer live there. Where is a good place to stay near Denver? We would like to camp to save money. Any suggestions would be very helpful.
Time: Never Enough!
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.
Indianapolis to Salt Lake City is about 1540 miles, or a hard 3 day drive without any appreciable "fun" stops along the way. And that's by the shortest, all interstate route possible, which is I-80, rather than I-70 through Missouri. If you're going to limit yourself to 6 hours of driving per day, go through St. Louis, and stop for the first night at Kingdom City, then you are cannot make it to Salt Lake City, even in 4 days. So you'll have to pick up the pace a bit, but not much. Kingdom City to Denver is roughly 750 miles, and halfway would put you in the vicinity of Dorrance, KS. Now, while I'm sure there are motels with swimming pools through that stretch of Kansas I-70, you may want to consider camping instead on the lake at Wilson State Park. The real problem that I see, though, is that the best places between Indiana and Utah, like Rocky Mountain National Park and Dinosaur National Monument are just far enough off the interstates that you really won't have time to get to and enjoy them given your time constraints. Any way you could add a day and make it 5? Would you have extra time on the way back?
Camping is a great way to travel and so much more fun for the kids than a hotel! Good choice.
I would highly recommend picking up a good guidebook to camping sites. It will come in handy for years (although you should buy an updated one once in a blue moon). Here's a link to a page with some good ones that are highly recommended by us here at Roadtrip America. I can personally vouch for the Frommer's and Woodall's guides. If you're tent-camping, make sure you get the Woodall's guide particularly for tent sites toward the bottom of the page.
If you are members of AAA, instead of buying these guides, you can get a free guide from AAA that is very good as well and usually the one I travel the most with because I want to make sure I get my AAA discounts.
While KOA campgrounds tend to be a tad higher-priced than your average campground, they have lots of amenities and usually have playgrounds and pools. You can check out their website by googling KOA and you can get free campground directory from them.
We can take longer if necessary. We are stay-at-home moms and will have our kids with us. We mostly want fun stops to break up the monotony of driving for the kids. Anything that will get out some of their energy (and keep us from going insane!) would be great.
Kids Things on the Way
As regulars on these forums know, I am a big fan of the state park systems in the US. Especially when it comes to entertaining kids. Usually, if you provide some green grass, a few trees, and something moderately interesting, they're as happy as pigs in mud, at least until they get to be teenagers. Anyway, with that in mind, here are a few recommendations for places that yours can blow off some energy along your route. Graham Cave State Park is just off exit 170 of I-70 in Missouri, and features a cave that was first inhabited 10,000 years ago. Another kid accessible cave is located at Rockbridge Memorial State Park just south of Columbia.
In Kansas, besides the previously mentioned Wilson State Park, Clinton State Park offers swimming and playgrounds, while Milford State Park has a fairly extensive system of nature trails in addition to swimming. Finally, you can tour an old cavalry post at Fort Hays.
Once you get into Colorado, the Rockies will begin to loom up before you, and now that you have the extra time, I again recommend that you head northwest from Denver and see Rocky Mountain National Park, and then cross Colorado on US-40 with a stop at Dinosaur National Monument (enter from Jensen, Utah on UT-149). At both locations, be sure to check at the visitor's center for the Junior Ranger Program, the best way I know to make sure that the kids get the most out of their visit.