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Went when it was 110 degrees with humidity. Campsites right next to the pond and good tree cover made the experience fun anyway. Good bass and panfish fishing with quiet campgrounds that aren’t right next to each other. I consider it a little hidden gem
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.
Nice quiet little primitive campground next to the Wapsipinicon River. Unfortunately, when I was there the last weekend of May, the gnats were bad, and the mosquitoes were just starting to gear up. HOWEVER, take bug spray and enjoy the rustic peacefulness of this "best kept secret" for primitive and inexpensive camping sites. Beautiful location, ranger close by, wood for sale just across the bridge, fire pits and picnic tables at every site. Good for RV, trailer or tent camping… level ground and lots of shade. Primitive bathrooms, no showers or running water.
A little pricy for tent camping. Ten dollars per tent per night and you’re restricted to the primitive area. It’s not bad if you’re just wanting to get away for a little bit but stay close to town. Otherwise if you’re looking for a better get away from it all I’d recommend some place else.
The 4th of July weekend it was us, one other camper and the random one nighters. The first day my dog got off his leash and jumped into the river. An hour later he had gotten up the cliff and was in the woods and the DNR picked my up and took me back to camp. The DNR was very nice about everything. The dog came back to camp half an hour later. By the 3rd morning the river had risen to the point of flooding out our campsite. The DNR let us switch sites for our last night. Overall very good experience