Our overnight camping trip to Clifty Falls State Park a few weeks ago didn't start out well. That morning, I was frantically combing through our camping supplies, trying to decide what we needed and what we could leave behind. I was nervous the boys wouldn't sleep well in the tent and that we'd give up and go home at midnight. I wondered if all the preparation would be worth it for just a 36-hour adventure.
True to form, two days later my husband and I agreed that it was one of our best camping trips yet. I returned feeling so relaxed and rejuvenated, like I'd been far away from home for several days.
Maybe it was just getting deep in the woods with my family. Listening to the falls drip on the limestone rocks. And snuggling into the tent as the last remains of our campfire crackled and hissed. Whatever it was, it was worth the effort and the nervous anticipation.
Clifty Falls offers some of the best hiking Indiana has to offer. On this trip, we tackled Trail 7. I like this trail because there are several "destinations" you see along the way, like the falls themselves. Granted, given the extreme drought we've had in Indiana this summer, they were more like a trickle instead of a raging cascade of water like I've seen on past trips. But pretty nonetheless.
Another highlight of Trail 7 is a rock formation called "Cake Rock." Naturally, Big Arrow loved that it looked like a giant piece of birthday cake.
Little highlights like these give kids something to look forward to and ahead to, particularly if they aren't enthusiastic hikers. At 3, Big Arrow is a mix of both. Sometimes he loves skipping ahead and seeing what's around the corner, chatting all the way.
And then he gets tired and whiney, like all 3 year olds do, and fortunately my husband can still throw him on his back.
Regardless, hiking is a chance to spend some quality time with our boys in the great outdoors, and makes me feel like I've really escaped the rush of everyday life, even if it's just for an hour or two.
Clifty Falls has a lot of other amenities, even if you're not a big nature buff. I outline some of them in this video for Visit Indiana (which I also shared earlier this week, along with my tips for getting two young kids to sleep in a tent).
Another tip for camping with kids? Pick a park or campground near an interesting town or city to visit... that way, if everyone needs a little break or pick-me-up, you can enjoy what's nearby. So another reason I love Clifty Falls is that it's in Madison, Indiana, a really quaint river town along the Ohio River. More on Madison next week!
If You Visit:
Clifty Falls State Park
2221 Clifty Drive, Madison, IN
Note: As of August 2012, Clifty Falls is one of the Indiana state parks currently (and understandably) under a strict burn ban. So don't plan on a campfire or grilling out.
Insider Tip: It's not really a tip, but in the tent area of the campground you'll find the nicest campground bathroom I've ever experienced! I'm nearly certain the countertops were cleaner than my own bathroom.
This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.