Tag Archives: midwest

lake anita state park

oops, didn’t mean to not blog for 9 months. of course, a lot has happened since then! i ran that marathon i was talking about the last time i blogged (october)! we went to europe for christmas! i ran another marathon this spring! and a million other things big and small in between. lots of these events will warrant their own blog posts, but in the spirit of not getting even more behind, they’re going to be out of order. onward…

this past weekend marked our first camping trip of the year! we really intended to get in more camping this spring, before it got too warm, but marathon training, work travel, and vacations all got in the way (in a mostly good way). we had plans last friday night in des moines, so decided we’d make a little weekend of it and camp on saturday evening somewhere between des moines and omaha. lake anita state park is pretty conveniently located about halfway between des moines and omaha and is only a few miles off the interstate. we weren’t able to make a reservation online as holiday weekends require a 2-night minimum, but we had no trouble getting a walk-up, non-electric tent site upon arrival ($11, cash only, exact change).

after securing our spot, we dropped off a few items at our campsite and then headed to the other side of the lake for the “beach area.” we chose lake anita over a couple of other options because we wanted somewhere that had a beach/swimming area as we wanted to lounge in our ridiculous two-person floatie that we got last summer at lake manawa. there was indeed a beach/swimming area, however, it was much, much smaller than i anticipated and we felt absolutely ridiculous blowing up and using our floatie. (didn’t stop us, but we felt ridiculous). it is super shallow in the swimming area and frankly, the water was kind of gross, but the weather was perfect and we had cold beer, so, we adapted.

the rest of our evening was pretty low-key. since our camping plans were fairly last minute, and we weren’t 100% sure we’d get a spot, we opted not to bring our camp stove or any of our own food with us this time, so we headed into town and picked up a sandwich and a few snacks for dinner/dessert. once back at our campsite, we began our prayers to the camp gods that our neighbors (a family with three toddlers to one side, a group of 10+ twenty-somethings with motorcycles and lots of booze to the other side) would not totally ruin our experience. we went for a leisurely walk around the lakefront trail, (attempted to) set up our new eno couch, did some of the NYT crossword, and had whiskey and oreos (a decent smore’s stand in, tbh) around the campfire.

we slept decently and got up around 7 or so and decided to take a ~2 mile walk into town to check out the local cafe. we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and crappy diner coffee before making the walk back. on the way back, we discovered a nature trail that we thought might be a shortcut to the park — it wasn’t much of a shortcut, but it was much more scenic, and we even stopped for a little swinging session at the playground nearby.
we packed up pretty soon after we got back from breakfast, as some rain and storms were just starting to roll in. overall, we really enjoyed lake anita — it’s a very easy drive from omaha but still felt like a nice getaway. it’s a fairly no-frills park, but perfect if you’re just wanting to relax for a night or two, or if you have your own boat/kayak/canoe that you can haul there. at $11/night and no day-use/park fee, camping is especially affordable here. we’ll definitely be back another time!

camp: lake anita state park
eat: the weather vane cafe
gas/ice/wood/snacks: casey’s general store

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