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Review:  Horse Thief Reservoir

Review: Horse Thief Reservoir


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 01/24/2019 17:30:56
Trip Date 10/03/2018  

Camping | Hiking | Kansas | Jetmore | Dodge City | Camping in Kansas | Where to Stay in RV near Dodge City | Budget Campgrounds in Southwest Kansas



As we traveled south from Kansas City to start our journey into the western United States, we planned to stay for several nights near Dodge City. The location was perfect to both break up our trip as well as to see some of the city recognized as part of the "Wild West".

If you will be traveling in southwest Kansas or have plans to visit Dodge City, take a look at this review following our stay at Horse Thief Reservoir. With both land and water sports for the active traveler and campsites with a view for those who prefer to relax, there's something for everyone - and all at a reasonable price!



Campground Amenities at Horse Thief Reservoir

Open for boating and fishing since mid 2010 and for camping two years later, Horse Thief Reservoir is located about 30 miles from Dodge City in Jetmore, Kansas. This was only the second time since purchasing "RV There Yet?" that we arrived at where we wanted to stay without a reservation. There were plenty of signs warning against occupying a spot without paying, however the posted check-in information was nearly a month old. Additionally, there were no envelopes nor registration forms to be found anywhere. Luckily, there was plenty of space available for us, so we didn't have to make a Plan B!


Entrance to Horse Thief Reservoir

Entrance to Horse Thief Reservoir

Since we spent considerable time in the near empty park during our three days, we had the opportunity to check-out most of the amenities available to guests. Overall, the park was clean and well maintained and, on the safety front, even has a tornado warning siren. In addition to vast expanses of land open for primitive camping, the park has 53 sites for RVs plus two yurts and two cabins (one of each was rustic and one more modern).


Yurt at Horse Thief Reservoir

Yurt at Horse Thief Reservoir

Horse Thief Reservoir has both a large covered open air pavilion near the beach as well as an air conditioned clubhouse. The clubhouse comes complete with kitchen equipment and plenty of tables and chairs. Just outside of the clubhouse sit two covered tables and a fire pit with some old farm equipment on display nearby. Both facilities are reservable for group events.


The Clubhouse (aka Lodge) at Horse Thief Reservoir

The Clubhouse (aka Lodge) at Horse Thief Reservoir

Horse Thief Reservoir's Farm Equipment

Horse Thief Reservoir's Farm Equipment

Of the two restroom buildings with showers located in the camping area, one is positioned so that clubhouse guests have easy access as well. Although the individual unisex shower / toilet rooms were reasonably clean, some had lingering odors and needed some maintenance attention. The park has two additional toilets near the beach / boat docks and within walking distance of the open air pavilion. Dumpsters are also located in the vicinity of each of the three restroom facilities.



With a large selection of land and water based activities, it is on the outdoor recreational front where this park beats out many other similar camping areas. Playground equipment sitting on a sandy base is available for the youngsters visiting the park. Pits for four games of horseshoes surround a basketball half-court for additional activities which appeal to both children and adults.


Playground (Top) / Horseshoes and Basketball (Bottom) at Horse Thief Reservoir

Playground (Top) / Horseshoes and Basketball (Bottom) at Horse Thief Reservoir

A relatively recent addition to the park is the Ron Allen Memorial Disc Golf Course. Located on the south end of the lake, 18 well marked holes comprise the frisbee golf course. There is no additional fee charged to those desiring to play other than the standard camping or day-use fee (which, excluding special events, includes all land based park facilities).


Ron Allen Memorial Disc Golf Course at Horse Thief Reservoir

Ron Allen Memorial Disc Golf Course at Horse Thief Reservoir

Also located on the south side and included in your camping or entrance fees, Horse Thief Reservoir has an archery range open daily from dawn to dusk. Since we are not "bowfolk", we did not tour the range which is advertised to always have bales and two hanging targets for guest practice. In addition to scheduled archery shoots, the park is home to a variety of other special events throughout the year including:

  • Running events;
  • Horse Thief Festival, an annual summertime festival featuring red dirt music and much more; and
  • Zombie Paintball scheduled in October of each year where "zombie hunters" ride aboard a "zombie hunting trailer" to shoot "zombie tranquilizers" - all in the midst of a large cornfield!


Our Walk Through the Zombie Paintball Cornfield

Our Walk Through the Zombie Paintball Cornfield

As far as water based activities, the park has it all! Guests can launch boats from one of two boat ramps for water-skiing or to just enjoy a ride. For those who prefer canoeing, jet-skiing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or windsurfing, the water is waiting for you. The park has a fishing pier for all of the anglers to sink a line in search of bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie and walleye. Before heading out to Horse Thief Reservoir, be sure to take a look at the Rules, Regulations and Fees.

If you prefer to enjoy the sun, sand and water without any type of boat, the park has a sandy beach along with a designated area where swimming is permitted. With a small playground for youngsters plus plenty of nearby concrete picnic tables with grills, this area is a great place for day-use guests as well as campers to spend a part of their day.


Beach Area at Horse Thief Reservoir

Beach Area at Horse Thief Reservoir

The total cost for our three nights of off-season camping (January - March and October - December) with our RV was $48.00 including all taxes.



Campsite Amenities at Horse Thief Reservoir

Advance reservations for camping at Horse Thief Reservoir can be requested by:
  • calling the office at (620) 253-8464 during business hours;
  • completing the park's Contact Us form; or
  • sending an e-mail to htr_mihm@yahoo.com

While we had no trouble finding an open campsite without making an advance reservation, our three night stay was during the off-season and our arrival was on a Sunday afternoon. We did notice a number of RVs parked in sites, yet during our entire stay there was no sign of the RV owners. We realized that many RVers have sites reserved on a long term or annual basis for intermittent use only. Because of this, if you have a desire to bring your RV to the park between April and September, reservations are highly recommended.

For campers arriving during regular business hours, check-in is available at the camp office. For after-hour arrivals, instructions for your stay should be posted on the large bulletin board. If there are no envelopes or registration forms in the box at the bulletin board, you can also check the box located outside of the office / gift shop which you'll pass on your way to the campsites. Depending on the season of your visit, there may also be a camp host on site, however we never saw a host during our stay.

Although all campsites were clean during our stay, the amenities varied from site to site. Some sites are level and paved while others are gravel and more sloped. Some sites have a tree (although none had multiple trees spaced for hammock hanging) and others do not. There are reportedly a few new sites with sewer connections, however most sites (excluding primitive sites) have 50-amp electric and water onsite with access to the park's central dump station. All sites have a fire pit and picnic table (some covered and some not).



Of the sites available upon our arrival, we chose Site 19 which backed up to the lake for our three night stay. The wide roads throughout the park made parking relatively easy, even though the gravel parking area at our site was sloped from side to side. While we did have a nice lake view, there were no trees near our site. Our on-site utilities included 50-amp electric and water, and we had an uncovered fiberglass picnic table and a fire ring.


Site 19 at Horse Thief Reservoir

Site 19 at Horse Thief Reservoir

Cooking Dinner at Horse Thief Reservoir's Site 19

Cooking Dinner at Horse Thief Reservoir's Site 19

Scott's service through Verizon (both cell and data) was good, however both my phone and data service through T-Mobile was intermittent. With only 3 stations available, broadcast television was very limited at the park. (All three stations were part of the PBS family - 2 children's stations and Create.)



Favorite Campsites at Horse Thief Reservoir

We took our traditional walk around the park in search of our favorite sites - you never know when you will return to an RV park! Our hands down favorite is Site 25 as it is a level pull-through site with a covered table and taller tree. Once set-up, our RV would sit parallel to the water. The downside to the site is that the utility connections for electric and water are on the opposite side of standard RV hook-ups.


Map of Camping Sites at Horse Thief Reservoir

Map of Camping Sites at Horse Thief Reservoir

Should our number one choice be unavailable, other sites that we would be happy with include:

  • Site 24, next door to one of the yurts, is similar in all other aspects to site 25 (above);
  • Site 28, also a level pull-through site that sits parallel to the water, has a covered table (with similar utility issues as above sites);
  • If Site 26 or Site 27 (designated as long term sites) are available, they would also make our favorites list - even with the utility issues previously mentioned. Of the two sites, our preferred site is 26 as it has both a covered table and taller tree, while site 27 does not have a tall tree.
  • Back-in Site 22 has a concrete parking pad with a covered table and backs up to the lake; and
  • The primary difference between Site 21 and site 22 (above) is the uncovered table.



Hiking at Horse Thief Reservoir

We read that the park has over 13 miles of trails for hiking which include trails around the lake. We enjoyed our hikes along portions of both the Indian Nation Trail and the Jack Rabbit Trail. The hiking path segments that we hiked were cleared with prairie grass alongside the trails.


Hiking at Horse Thief Reservoir

Hiking at Horse Thief Reservoir

Indian Nation Trail

Indian Nation Trail

In addition to seeing some pheasants and jack rabbits along our hikes, we also enjoyed a beautiful sunset.


Sunset Hike on Indian Nation Trail

Sunset Hike on Indian Nation Trail

Sunset at Horse Thief Reservoir

Sunset at Horse Thief Reservoir

Day Trip Recommendations from Horse Thief Reservoir

While a visit to the nearby Dodge City might already be on your radar, did you know that there are other nearby sites which both adults and children may have an interest in visiting? Check out our post titled Looking for Things to Do in Southwest Kansas? for several easy day trip ideas that complement a stay at Horse Thief Reservoir.

For even more sites to see in Kansas, be sure to read See the USA: Visit Kansas, the Sunflower State published by Everyday Wanderer, a fellow travel blogger.

Camping in Kansas

What recreational activities (swimming, boating, disc golf, horseshoes, etc.) do you seek out at campgrounds or RV parks? Are there any "must have" requirements (i.e. if the location doesn't have it, you refuse to stay)?




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Review:  Horse Thief Reservoir






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Created On 01/20/2019 14:04:16  
Updated On 01/27/2019 13:35:30
Scheduled On 01/21/2019 12:30:56
Posted On 01/24/2019 17:30:56
Last Editor Stacy
Location  HorseThief Reservoir, Jetmore, KS, United States
LinkId  HorseThiefReservoir
StoryId  1548011056934





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