RV and tent camping at Lake Shawnee in Topeka, Kansas.
Open year round but there are better places to camp...
I've had a love/hate relationship with the Shawnee Lake campgrounds all my life. On the one hand I love it because it's so close. Ten minutes and we're there. On the other hand I hate it because it's always so crowded on weekends during the summer months. I used to take Buddy and Dixie out there to run in the mornings but lately every time we've gone they've picked up fleas so we've stopped going entirely. I also don't like the fact that over the past twenty years the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation department has seen fit to eliminate all but sixteen tent camping spots in favor of RV hook-ups. As an RV owner myself, that fact should be good news, but it's not. The campground is now basically one big RV park and on weekends during the summer it is one very crowded RV park.
This is not primitive camping by any means. All 141 camp spots have at least electrical hook-ups (as far as I know) and there are two laundry/shower/restroom facilities located on opposite ends of the campground. I've used these facilities numerous times and always found them to be antiseptically clean. Squeaky clean even. The campground maintenance people really know their job at Shawnee Lake and they do it well.
125 of the available 141 camping spots at Shawnee Lake have been reserved for motorhomes and RV's. When I was growing up, that ratio was about half and half. Over the years more and more tent spots were converted to RV spots and today there are only sixteen tent sites remaining. I've never found out what the reason for this was, but I'm assuming RV campers going to Shawnee Lake historically have outnumbered tent campers by a wide enough margin to have justified the changes. I mean, why else would they have done it?
Tent camping at Shawnee Lake has been restricted to one small area at the far end of the campgrounds. As already mentioned, there are only 16 sites available for tent camping and they fill up fast. In fact, during the summer months reservations are almost mandatory for tent camping. To reserve a campsite at Shawnee Lake, call the campground office at (785) 267-1859. Reservations will not be accepted before April 1st. They'll need your name, address, birth date, RV license tag, and date of arrival. A two night minimum stay is required when making a reservation and payment must be made by credit card (for the first two nights). Whether tent camping or RV camping, the nightly rate is $15.00 per night from April 15th to October 15th, and $14.00 per night from October 16th to April 14th. No reservations at all will be taken for dates between the weekend before July 4th through the weekend after July 4th.
The swimming beach has been worked on a good deal in recent years. It's a lot bigger than this image indicates, with more beach area that can't be seen to the right. Several picnic tables, fire pits and numerous shade trees make this a fairly attractive swimming area (as opposed to the mud pit it used to be). When I was taking Buddy and Dixie out there to run in the mornings, this is where we would usually go. On more than one occasion my dogs have picked up fleas at this campground and I'm fairly convinced they (the fleas) came from the immediate vicinity of the swimming area.
The image at left shows the waste water and trash dumping area for RVs and motorhomes located just outside the campground enclosure. Dumping is free for all registered campers with a $3.00 fee being charged for everyone else. Senior citizen discounts of $1.00 off are available to persons 62 years of age and older year round.
Campground contact information:
Lake Shawnee Campground
3435 SE Eastedge Road
Topeka, Kansas 66605
Park Police Supervisor