Camping Kick-Off Banner_2019

 

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Join us for Iowa State Park's annual Camping Kick-Off and reserve your camping spot the first weekend in May.

Many state parks will be hosting programs and activities for the entire family! Take part in kayaking clinics, demonstrations, volunteer projects, special hikes and much more to celebrate the start of the camping season. Plus campers will receive a free issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine.

A full schedule of programs is below, so find a park, make a reservation and join us May 3-5. We’ll see you there!


Kickoff Programs

Black Hawk State Park

May 4, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event    Help park staff with a little spring cleaning and litter pick up of the campground area. We will remove honeysuckle if time permits. Meet at campground registration area.


Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

May 4, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event   Help with park and trail spring cleanup. Meet at park office.

May 4, 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM: History of Brushy Creek Program  Celebrate Brushy Creek and learn the history of the park and lake. Meet at the Prairie Resource Center.


Clear Lake State Park

May 4, 9:00 AM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event   Help rake reeds and clean up beach. We will work together to pick up trash throughout the park and campground. Meet at beach.

 

Dolliver State Park

May 4, 10:00 AM: Group Camp Cleanup Volunteer Event   Help clean camp cabins, the mess hall, restrooms and park area. Meet at Group Camp.

 

Fort Defiance State Park

May 4, 10:00 AM:  Fun Run and Obstacle Course   Take part in the Ft. Defiance Extreme 5K Trail Run and 1-mile fun run. All ages and abilities are welcome. Meet near the lodge. Register online at https://www.estherville.org/defiance-trail-run.html

 

Ledges State Park

Date/Time TBD: Trail Signage Volunteer Event  Help with trail signage installation/removal in the park. Meeting location TBD.

 

Lewis & Clark State Park

May 4, 9:00 AM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event   Help park staff clean up trash and tree branches. Please bring gloves. Meet at visitor center.

 

McIntosh Woods State Park

May 4, 9:00 AM: Grounds Maintenance Volunteer Event   Help park staff clean up litter, debris and rake the beach. Please bring your own garden rakes and gloves. Meet at boat ramp.


Pilot Knob State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM  - 12:00 PM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event   Help park staff and Friends Group plant trees, clean campground area, remove leaves from amphitheater, clean state house interior and split firewood. Meet at campground site 42.

May 4, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM:  Ranger Talk Program   Learn about invasive species and prescribed burns. Meet at the campground theater.

May 4, 8:30 PM: Family Movie Night "Up":   Bring a blanket and chair if you want. Popcorn will be available. Free-will donations will benefit Friends of Pilot Knob. Meet at the campground theater.

 

Prairie Rose State Park

May 4, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM : Kayaking Program  All levels of experience are welcome. Fifteen kayaks and life jackets will be available to use. Meet in parking area on the east side of Country Road M47.

May 4, 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM: Grounds Maintenance Volunteer Event    Help park staff with ground maintenance and mulching around young trees. Meet at gravel parking lot below the shower building.


Springbrook State Park
May 4, 2:30 PM: Splash for Trash Volunteer Event  Paddle Springbrook Lake to collect litter that has found its way into lake, or hike the trail around the lake to clean up  trash. Meet at the beach.

May 4, 2:30 - 4:30 PM: Kayak Instruction and Paddling Program   Kayaks and life jackets will be provided, or you can bring your own. Ages 6 and up, but please have an adult participate with children under 10. Meet at the beach.

 

Stone State Park

May 4, 10:00 AM: Volunteer Trail Work Day   Join Friends of Stone Park and park staff for a volunteer work day. Help maintain the trails and create a new equestrian stopping point along the Broken Toe trail. Please wear sturdy walking shoes and bring a pair of work gloves. Meet at the equestrian parking lot near the east entrance of the park. For questions, please call the park office at 712-255-4698. Stone Park address: 5001 Talbot Rd. Sioux City, IA 51106

Backbone State Park

May 4, 9:00 AM: Fun Run   Join park staff and Backbone Lake Friends Group to celebrate the beauty and fun of the park. Approximately four miles long, you will experience a small portion of the Backbone Trail System. Meet at beach lodge.
 

May 4, 10:30 AM & 2:00 PM: Public Meeting  Join us for a public meeting to discuss Backbone State Park at either time listed. Meet at the beach lodge.

 

Beed's Lake State Park
May 4, 9:00 AM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event  Help park staff with trash cleanup. Meet by park lodge.


Bellevue State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM: "Plogging" Volunteer Event  Help park staff with "plogging" throughout the park, which is a fast-paced, fun litter clean up. Meet at the Nature Center in Nelson Unit.

 

Cedar Rock
May 4, 2:00 PM: Cedar Rock Clean Up Volunteer Event  Help park staff prepare for the season by picking up litter, assisting with gardening projects and picnic table assembly, spreading mulch and more. Meet at the visitor center.

 

Lake Macbride State Park
May 4, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event   Help split firewood, pick up sticks, stain/repair tables, handcut invasive species, pull garlic mustard and pick up litter. Meet at the Primitive Campground.

 

Maquoketa Caves State Park
May 4, 2:00 PM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event   Help park staff with litter removal throughout the park. Please bring gloves and water. Cleanup supplies will be provided. Meet at the lower shelter house.

 

Mines of Spain State Recreation Area
May 3, 9:00 AM: Dubuque Hemstead Cleanup Day  Students will complete the following: Julian Dubuque Monument trail work, horseshoe bluff invasive species removal, clean up and gardening around E.B. Lyons Nature Center, fencing around trees on woodland walk and planting trees. Meet at the E.B. Lyons Nature Center. 

 

Palisades-Kepler State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Lodge Open House and Program   Join us at the lodge for an open house and brief presentation from the park ranger and Friends Group. Refreshments will be served. 


Pikes Peak State Park
May 4, 1:00 PM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event    Help with spring cleanup in the campground, picnic areas and help rake new camp pads. Meet in campground.


Pine Lake State Park
May 4, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Tree Planting Volunteer Event    Help park staff with tree planting. Meet at the campground gazebo.

 

Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area
May 11, 10:00 AM: Beach Cleanup Volunteer Event   Please note this volunteer event is one week after camping kickoff. Help park staff with removing small weeds and saplings from the sand to get the beach ready for the season! Meet in beach parking lot.

 

Rock Creek State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM: Tree Planting Volunteer Event    Help park staff with tree planting. Clean up litter around shoreline and campground on the east side of the park. Meet in campground.

Date/Time TBD: Movie and Programs  Join us for a campground movie and interpretive programs.

 

Volga River State Recreation Area
May 4, 8:00 AM: Playground Prep Volunteer Event   Help park staff prepare for their playground installation by sealing picnic tables. Meet at the Volga River State Recreation Area Office. The playground will be installed on May 10 and 11 the following week.

 

Wapsipinicon State Park

May 10, Time TBD: Anamosa School Groups Volunteer Day   Wapsipinicon is hosting a volunteer event the following weekend after Camping Kick-Off! Help paint picnic tables and pull garlic mustard plants. Wear appropriate clothing. Bring gloves, water and bug spray. Meet at park office.

 

Yellow River State Forest
May 4, 8:30 AM: Spring Cleaning and Picnic Table Installation Volunteer Event   Help park staff cleanup litter on all country and state roads around the forest. Vests, gloves and bags will be provided. We will also be assembling 25 new picnic tables. Please bring cordless drills, socket adaptor for drill, wrenches, gloves and socket sets. Meet at 737 State Forest Road, Harpers Ferry, IA, 52146. Please call the park office and RSVP if you plan on coming to either one of these events.

Green Valley State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM: Brews to Branches Tree Planting Volunteer Event   Help park staff replant 30 trees in the campground and around the park. Please bring water, gloves, spades and post hole diggers. Meet at the check-in building in campground.
 

Lake Anita State Park
May 5, 12:30 PM: Boat Ramp Cleanup Volunteer Event    Help park staff clean up the boat ramp area. Meet near the boat ramp. Kayaking will follow cleanup.

May 5, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM: Kayak Instruction and Paddling Program   Kayaks and life jackets will be provided, or you can bring your own. Ages 6 and up, but please have an adult participate with children under 10. Meet at the boat ramp.
 

Viking Lake State Park
May 4, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Spring Cleanup Volunteer Event   Help park staff clean up sticks, branches and litter. Meet at park office.

 

Waubonsie State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Grounds Maintenance Volunteer Event   Help park staff with tree planting, mulching and trash cleanup. Meeting location TBD. Lunch will be served at 12 p.m. by the Friends of Waubonsie.

Elk Rock State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM: Spring Cleaning Volunteer Event   Help park staff pick up litter around boat ramps and trails. Meet at equestrian campground playground.

 

Honey Creek State Park
May 4, 9:00 AM: Picnic Table Painting Volunteer Event   Help park staff paint picnic tables. Meet at the office.
 

Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Campground Cleanup Volunteer Event  Help park staff with campground cleanup and planting 75 trees throughout the park. Meet in campground.

 

Lake Ahquabi State Park
May 4, 9:00 AM: Park Cleanup Volunteer Event  Help park staff pick up litter and sticks on the Ahquabi beach. Meet at the beach.

May 4, 1:00 PM: Summerset Cleanup Volunteer Event   Help park staff pick up litter and sticks around Summerset. Meet in front parking lot.

 

Lake Darling State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Trash Cleanup Volunteer Event   Help park staff with trash clean up around the park. Meet at the campground boat ramp and parking lot.

 

Lake Keomah State Park
May 4, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Tree Cutting Volunteer Event   Help park staff cut locust trees at dam. Meet at back boat ramp.

May 4, 4:00 PM: Childrens Bird House Painting Program   Join us to paint small decorative children's bird houses. Meet at the beach house building.

 

Lake Wapello State Park
Date/Time TBD: Picnic Table Volunteer Event  Help park staff assemble new picnic tables for the season. Meeting location TBD.

 

Walnut Woods State Park
May 4, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM: Geocaching Program   Go on a GPS adventure as you navigate through the park to find small treasures. Meet at the playground area.

May 4, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM  Kayak Instruction and Paddling at Purple Martin Lake Program  Kayaks and life jackets provided, or bring your own. Ages 6 and up, but please have an adult participate with children under 10. Meet at Purple Martin Lake parking area.

 

Wildcat Den State Park
May 4, 10:00 AM: Trash Cleanup Volunteer Event  Help park staff clean up trash and branches throughout the park. Meet at the Upper Picnic Area Shelter.

Reservations

Make your online reservation for state park cabins, campsites, shelters and lodges:

Make a Reservation


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Before you head out...

CHECK EQUIPMENT
Before heading to the campground, spend some time going through equipment to make sure it’s in working order.

Check tents for holes, make sure tent poles are not cracked, the lantern still works and new batteries are packed. RV owners should check breakers, make sure the tires are properly inflated, roof seams are sealed and propane tanks are filled. 

Check the first aid kit, the toolbox and cookware. 

It’s better to find problems at home rather than after arriving at the campsite. After all, last fall was a long time ago.

CAMPGROUND ETIQUETTE

  • Be a good neighbor. Observe quiet hours and pick up after yourself.
  • Don’t burn trash – only firewood. 
  • Get firewood locally to avoid transporting pests (see below) 
  • Keep pets on a leash and don’t leave them unattended.
  • Don’t bring fireworks

CAMPING TIPS

  • Check the state parks’ alerts and closures webpage for updates prior to leaving. Weather often impacts trails and other park facilities.
  • Keep track of the weather and have a plan in case of severe weather
  • Plan to arrive as early in the day to set up the site.
  • Prepare ingredients for meals before leaving home for less time cooking and more time playing.
  • Bug spray, sun screen and a basic first-aid kit are must haves.

FIREWOOD

 Firewood should be obtained only within the county where it will be burned. It is important not move firewood from county to county or state to state to prevent the spread of forest pests. The entire State of Iowa is quarantined for emerald ash borer.

All firewood sold or acquired in Iowa must have a label with the county and state of harvest. The DNR will collect firewood from campers who do not have a label.