This is our base camp. We have a seasonal site here and really enjoy the facilities and events.
Walnut Woods State Park - an Iowa State Park
When we were tent campers, this was our favorite park. Back then it was primitive with some electric sites but no water and no sewer and only pit toilets. Within the last two years it has gone through dramatic changes with the addition of concrete pads and full hookup sites. The last I checked their website (a few minutes ago) they have not updated it with the current information. It is still small (I believe it is now less than the 23 original sites because creating a one way access road) and heavily forested which is great for bird and critter watching. There is fishing (with a licence) in the river. Nice hiking and equestrian trails along the river and through the woods. Note: it is called Walnut Woods for a reason. This park and the adjacent Browns Woods constitute the worlds largest black walnut forest. You are not allowed to harvest the walnuts and in the Fall ... they FALL and it can be noisy and messy on your roof. All in all, still one of our favorite spots to camp and get away from it all.
Acorn Valley - a United States Army Corp of Engineers Park
This is one of the four campgrounds around Saylorville Lake north of Des Moines Iowa. This park is primarily for tent camping. This park is alsoAlcohol Free. Here is the official information from their website:
dump station at entrance station, 1 handicap accessible paved campsite (w/water), flush toilets, showers, playgrounds, hiking trails, and a small pond. We have not camped here since we purchased our first RV. It is great for family camping in a tent. The 'tent only' loop has a lot of 'walk in' sites that are on rolling hills. You can find level spots but you have to look for them.
Prairie Flower - a United States Army Corp of Engineers Park
This is one of the four campgrounds around Saylorville Lake north of Des Moines Iowa. As the name suggests this park has few trees and lots of open grassy space. This park is divided into four sections and is mostly for RV camping but tent camping is allowed. One of the four section is set up in 'loops' for group camping and each loop has a large central shelter house. The other three sections have playgrounds and shower/comfort stations. Only one section, Coneflower, has direct access to the beach and lake. Here is the official information from their website: Prairie Flower is open May-October and features 154 campsites with electric hookup. There are 10 group loops each with electric hookups at the individual sites, as well as an open sided shelter with tables, lights and electric in the center of each loop. Aster and Blazingstar Loops of Prairie Flower close September 30. Amenities include: drinking water, dump station at entrance station, flush toilets, showers, playgrounds, sand volleyball (north end) 69 sites with 50 amp service, 1 handicap accessible paved campsite, access to Neal Smith Bike Trail, access to
Cherry Glen - a United States Army Corp of Engineers Park
This is one of the four campgrounds around Saylorville Lake north of Des Moines Iowa. This is a well treed park. When we've been there, the trees have been well pruned so as to keep them off of the RVs. With recent budget cuts, I don't know how well trimmed it is currently. This park is mostly for RV camping but tent camping is allowed. Here is the official information from their website: Cherry Glen Campground is open April through October, located on the east side of the lake, featuring 127 campsites with electric hookup and an abundance of shade trees. Access to two boat ramps makes this campground an easy pick for those looking to boat during their stay. Amenities include; two boat ramps, courtesy docks, drinking water, dump station at entrance station, flush toilets, showers, playgrounds, telephone (pay), 3 handicap accessible paved campsites, 3 sites with 50 amp service, 8 sites with full time water hookup, access to Neal Smith Bike Trail, picnic shelters nearby available for reservations, family assisted shower and restroom available upon request.
Camping Reservations can be made by phoning 877.444.6777 (TDD 877.833.6777) or at the following link, www.recreation.gov
We have not personally camped here. However since I've included the other camping areas around Saylorville Lake, I added this one to the list. By the way, that is not a misspelling of Shelter or really is Shetler. This is one of the four campgrounds around Saylorville Lake north of Des Moines Iowa. Being located on the Des Moines River and directly below the Saylorville Dam, this park is great for the fisherman. There is even at least one fish cleaning station. Note: the noise from the water rushing from the damn can be very loud at times. This park is mostly for RV camping but tent camping is allowed. Here is the official information from their website: Bob Shetler Campground is open May through September and features 69 campsites with electric hookup. It is located below the
Amenities include: drinking water, dump station at entrance station, electric, 1 handicap accessible paved campsite (w/water), flush toilets, showers, playgrounds, telephone (pay), easy access to Neal Smith Bike Trail.
Yellow Banks - County Park, Polk County Iowa (Des Moines Area)
We have camped here several times as tent campers and several times as RVers. It is a quiet get away with two camping areas. One for RVs and one for tents. Nice hiking trails and there is good fishing in the river below the camping areas. Here is the information from the website: The 140-foot tall bluffs at
rise above the Des Moines River and offer
breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The bluffs are formed from
loess soil deposited by the wind during the time of the glaciers. Hiking
trails at this 517-acre park lead to scenic overlooks, an oak savanna, a Native
American burial mound, and a unique backpacking camping area. This is a prime
area for viewing migrating raptors in spring and fall.
Iowa State Fair Campground – On
eastside. Des Moines
We have camped here several times as both tent campers and as RVers (not during the fair). Unless there is some large event at the fairground, you may be able to park your rig so far from the next person that you can’t see them. Some spots are unbelievably sloped. But in the off season when it isn’t crowded there are literally hundred of good camping areas. The fairgrounds is in a semi-residential area and has a major street on its northside. Despite the location it is relatively quiet unless there is a major event using the fairground facilities.
Off Season Camping: Flexible, Versatile, Affordable. Open mid-April to mid-July and September to mid-October for non-Fair camping. 160 acres of gently rolling woodlands, just minutes from city shopping, dining and entertainment. 1800 sites with water and electrical hookups, hundreds more without. Nearly 600 sites with sewers. Economical rates, 24-hour security, Fairgrounds facilities and planning staff available for larger groups and events, including groups that require a large number of camping space. Severe weather storm shelter is available in the campgrounds
Camping During the
Fair: I was
actually unable to find any information about camping during the fair. I do know that during the fair, the
campground is under totally different management. I also know from experience that if your
family doesn’t already “own” a spot at the fairgrounds during the fair, you
aren’t likely to ever get to camp will the fair is in progress. Iowa State
Spring Lake Park - near Jefferson
This is a very nice park for hikers and fisher(wo)men. We have spent some very nice weekends here. I remember taking a hike and eating wild raspberries
while watching a doe and her fawn munching on the tall grasses. Sites are mostly level and you can get very close to the lake (if you’re quick – because it is first come, first serve). It is VERY popular with the home folks in and around
Jefferson. There are electrical sites but don’t count on
water or sewer. This is a cut and paste
from their website and all the misspelling belong to them, not me. (Smile): Spring Lake Park is
becoming one of cental 's
best known family orinated camping experiences. The park is one of the
finest well groomed parks in Iowa .
There is a 50 acre lake that has bass, crappie and catfish and a very nice
swimming beach with a convience store. The park has many amenities that include
three shelter houses, modern showers, boating (electric motors only) , hiking
trails, playground and sports field. All facilities and areas are handicap
accessible. Tent camping is also available. Iowa