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Good campgrounds with trails including equestrian options, and water! Can rent canoes, kayaks, and pontoons! Bait shop, fishing, food options with town just a few miles away. Mississippi River near by for big river options. Lota of wildlife with bald eagles near by. Scout Camp nearby.
Great area. Several campgrounds in the preserve, from hook ups to primitive. Sites spaced nicely, with picnic tables and fire rings. Bathroom/showers are clean.
There is so much to do here. They have several maintained trails. They rent kayaks, canoes, Jon boats, even pontoon boats so you can go out on Lake George. They sell fishing tackle and bait at the office, along with powerade, soda, etc. Walmart, Lowes, food, gas, etc is all 5 miles down the road. I came in on a Monday and more than half of the 28 sites were available in white oak campground. It is very quiet, all you really here is nature.
Overall excellent value as it's $22/night and there is so much to do.
We have visited Loud Thunder many times as hikers and kayakers but this was our first time as campers. For our maiden voyage with our new camper we decided to stay close to home and Loud Thunder was the perfect place.
Because of COVID the trails were closed so while normally there are a lot of places to explore most of them were closed while we were there. The boat rentals and Lake George were open though so we decided to rent a small pontoon. This pontoon was very rickety and we did not end up staying out as long as we had planned.
The boat rentals are all on a first come first serve basis so it's the luck of the draw.
The camp site was very nice. Electricity and water hookups. We were in the back and really liked our spot. The campground its self was very quiet and we enjoyed our stay. I'm sure we will be back.
Registering for any site means stopping at the main ranger office. We waited while a line of people rented pontoon boats, canoes and kayaks. We found site 6 in Silva Campground to be nicely set apart.
Silva is wooded and has more seclusion than the other camps. River campground has campers right in a line with no shade around them. Silva was good for us.
Some sites are close together- perfect for a small group. Others are open and along the road. 6 was carved out of the woods- we felt immersed in the forest. One set of 4 vault toilets serves this campground. Water can be found in a couple locations. Our site had full sun during the day so our screen tent saved the day.
A variety of hiking trails are here. Some are used by bikes and horses too. Rock Island is a short drive away and we hiked on Sylvan Island there. Many people are here for fishing.
We didn’t like the large family gathering at the site across from us. They disappeared as soon as the rain came but there was a lot of activity going on. Some of the picnic areas would be perfect for these moments but they didn't move to them. We still enjoyed our stay.
Our site was at Indian Meadows and it is large enough to fit my big 8-person tent, a picnic table, my truck, and all our other stuff with room to spare. The sites are very close to each other. The sites at Riverview and Silva both seemed smaller. The Riverview sites had great shade and a breeze coming off of the Mississippi river but had very little privacy. Each site at Indian Meadows and Silva are surrounded by a wall of trees. Our site had a picnic table and a fire pit with a swing over grill. There was no trash can, though. My plan was to collect the garbage then walk it to the trash point, a dumpster up the road. Unfortunately, while we were at the shower house raccoons got into it. I was better prepared the second day. Just remember to bring trash bags and dispose of your trash often, the raccoons out there are brave. The Loud Thunder office is top-notch. They sell a few necessities like batteries, firewood, ice, and stuff for s’mores. Service was incredibly helpful and nice.
At the center of Loud Thunder is Lake George. Lake George is a boon for kayakers and anglers. For us, it was the highlight of the trip. Loud Thunder rents kayaks, john boats, pontoons, and mini-pontoons. I had never heard of a mini-pontoon prior to this trip; they are amazing and now I want one. For 30 dollars we navigated the lake for two hours. My son loved steering the boat. Even though we were in the sun there was a nice breeze. We could have easily spent another two hours on that lake.
There are also plenty of trails for horses, bikes, and hiking. The trail we went on started as a wide gravel path then narrowed to a single-track dirt path. It had one hard climb. The trail was very nice and led to some great views.
Read about my adventure at https://www.lost13.com/camping/2019/7/26/loud-thunder
Saulsbury Bridge Recreation Area is 675 acres, nestled between rolling fields of corn, dairy farms, native prairie, and the Cedar River. Located in Muscatine County in southeast Iowa, this rec area offers well-maintained campgrounds, hiking trails, fishing, kayaking/canoeing and seasonal hunting.
There are three separate campgrounds. The main campground has electrical hookups, picnic benches, fire rings, modern restroom facilities including showers, a dump station, playground, and firewood for purchase. There are 24 sites, and they run $20 per night.
The primitive campground area sits along Chicken Creek and offers four, tent-only sites, and is just off the main campground. The sites are well spaced and surrounded by large trees. These are walk in sites with parking in the main campground. It’s a short hike in from the parking area, and within walking distance of the restrooms and firewood. Primitive sites are $10 per night.
Across the road from these two campgrounds is the main boat access and fishing dock for Chicken Creek. Only non-motorized boats are allowed here. If you don’t have your own, you can rent kayaks and canoes through the Muscatine County Conservation office. There is also a large shelter, which is reservable along with day use picnic areas, playgrounds, a sand volleyball court, and vault toilets. There’s large, open expanses of grassy fields and oak shade trees; perfect for relaxing on a hot summer day.
The river campground sits right along the Cedar River and allows easy access to fishing along with a boat ramp. This campground is a short hike to the old Saulsbury Bridge and Lodge. The bridge has a small gazebo-like structure and bench which provides a nice view of the river. There are vault toilets in this campground, but the modern restrooms are within walking distance as well. There are 10 sites in this campground and run $17 per night.
All campsites are self-registration and are on a first come, first served basis. There is a campground host on duty in the main campground and the park officer lives on site. Dogs are allowed, but must be on leash in the campgrounds and on trails. However, they are allowed to run in the designated hunting areas. These areas are marked with signs. If you plan to hike during hunting season, it’s a good idea to wear bright colors/blaze orange so you are visible to hunters and not mistaken for a deer or other wildlife.
This park also has prairie/natural habitat restoration areas that, in spring and summer, attract Monarch butterflies, and an abundance of birds including indigo bunting, red headed woodpecker, and goldfinch. In the colder months you can spot bald eagles flying along the river. There are also deer, wild turkey, and pheasants. While there, we walked around the campground areas that were open and over to the day use area along Chicken Creek to roast marshmallows. We hiked the short distance out to the Saulsbury Bridge to watch the Cedar River flow by and caught a beautiful sunset.
The one downfall to this park is the possibility for flooding. When the Cedar River is high, it pushes Chicken Creek out of its banks which can mean potential closure of campgrounds.
A call ahead to the conservation office to check on closures is a good idea. We had hoped to camp at a primitive site, but learned the trail leading into the campground was under water, which also meant the river campground was closed as well. Though there was some water over the road in the main campground, it was minimal and we were able to choose an electrical site. We opted to car camp as we were only staying one night. Only about a third of the campground was filled and we had no one on either side of us which meant for a more quiet camping experience.
This is one of my favorite local areas to hike and camp that’s close to home. It offers a full picture of Iowa’s varied landscapes and outdoor activity opportunities.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. On this camping trip, I tried out VivoBarefoot Primus Trail SG Womens sneakers. VivoBarefoot’s goal is to provide an environment that allows the feet to remain in their natural state while providing a protective shoe. https://www.vivobarefoot.com/us/womens/off-road/primus-trail-sg-womens?colour=Olive
- Anytime I purchase a new pair of shoes, whether for daily use or outdoor recreation, I make sure to break them in as much as possible as I’m prone to blisters. I did wear the Primus around the house a few times and on my daily walks before taking them camping. Though they have a snug fit, they’re not uncomfortable. They also include a pair of removable inserts and extra laces. The laces are adjustable which allowed me to either loosen or tighten the shoe. Bonus; no socks needed. As someone who would opt to wear sandals year round if possible, I liked the fact I didn’t have to put an extra layer on my feet.
- The timing couldn’t have been better for testing out these sneakers; Saulsbury was experiencing minor flooding while we were there. Not only do they have rugged soles for gripping in wet and rocky terrain, the mesh material allows for quick drying if they do get wet, and provided easy clean up of mud and other debris.
- Honestly, I was really pleased with the fact that many of the women’s shoes came in neutral and earth tone colors (I absolutely checked out other shoe options on their website). While I don’t mind the brighter colors that seem to be the trend for women’s trail runners, I really prefer something a little more low key.
- One of the best things about these shoes was the ease of slipping them on and off, say in the middle of the night when nature called.
- All in all, I feel this shoe is a good match for the outdoor activities I enjoy; camping, hiking, bicycling, and kayaking. I’m looking forward to seeing how they hold up while hiking in the mountains out West this summer.