Matt S.

Near Des Moines , IA

Joined August 2016

Eagle Scout, Outdoors Junkie, Prosecutor, Husband, Father & Iowa Hawkeyes fan.

Ledges will reopen in January 2019

Ledges State Park is one of the most visited parks in Iowa. I loved coming to this park as a kid and I can't wait for it to re-open. It has been closed since January 2018, but it scheduled to re-open in January of 2019. Here is a link to a local story explaining the closure and flooding and the schedule to re-open the park.

Lava Point or Try the Back Country

Lava Point is a First come First Serve campground. It is small so get there early. You will take Kolob Terrace Road North. This will get you away from most of the crowds near Springdale. My suggestion is get a back country pass and take you pack and tent on one of the many side trails off of Kolob Terrace Road. You will see some beautiful country and you won't have to fight the crowds for a campsite. You are also at a higher elevation so it is a little cooler than down in the main park.

This is one of the most beautiful places on earth!

Can't get a Grand Canyon Permit, try the Kaibab National Forest

Sometimes getting a permit into the Grand Canyon is impossible. I have applied and been turned down. But don't be discouraged. There are some awesome trails and campsites in the Kaibab National Forest. Crazy Jug is probably the most famous but if you have all wheel drive or an off road Bike, you can get almost any where in the forest for a great adventure.

make sure you have a road map. There are hundreds of back roads that act as a maze so don't get lost :)

There is only one South Campground at Zion NP

You can check out my other reviews for Zion National Park. Make sure you don't get confused, there is only one south campground at Zion National Park. If you are looking for long term reservations then you need to camp at Watchman. if you can take the risk of a first come first serve campsite and you have missed your window for getting a site at Watchman, then take your chances, it is worth it. But get there early, before 7:00 a.m. The campground fills up quickly.

Zion is becoming more poular every year. Expect big crowds.

South Camp Ground is amazing, but it doesn't take long term reservations

South Campground is gorgeous. It is great if you are willing to take the risk for the first come first served. I am traveling from too far away to take that risk so I always stay in Watchman. If I lived closer I would take a shot at staying in South Campground. My advice, get there early because it fills up fast!

I used my Sony Camera rather than my Iphone for these pics. I think they turned out much better than my Watchman pics.

There is only one Watchman

Don't be confused when you see two Watchman campgrounds. There is really only one campground and you need to book it six months in advance. It is so beautiful and so much fun. If you want to be around some amenities though, skip Springdale and drive an hour west to St. George and make sure you stop off at In and Out Burger. Especially if you live in the midwest like me.

Book 6 Months in advance

Zion National Park is one of my favorites. This is the second time I have been here in the last four years. This time we spent a whole week here with the kids. It was awesome but it is tough to find a spot if you don't make your reservations six moths in advance. Make sure you book it early. It fills up fast

Buffalo River is a great place to Canoe

The Buffalo River is the only designated National River by the National Park Service, but it is not a National Park. If you are an expert canoer go to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. But if you have young children or are a beginner skill level canoer, the Buffalo River is a great place. I highly suggest calling an outfitter and renting canoes. It just make life that much better.

This is a great place to camp and canoe.

Last Stop before the 3 day Wilderness float on the Buffalo River

This is the last stop before you enter the wilderness area of the Buffalo River. It was amazing. The only complaint is that at times the river can run somewhat low. This is a great place to go if you are a beginner level for canoeing. Very few fast running water.

If you are very skilled or experienced canoer you might be disappointed.

Solid County Park with large sites and great hiking in the woods.

This is an update from my previous post now with pics and a little snow. This campground is a little off of the beaten path but it is quiet and has great hiking trails. It is also known locally for its effigy mounds where native american artifact were buried.

This is a great place if you like peace and quiet and local hiking trails.

5 mile Hike around the lake

This is a great State Park and a great campground. There are a lot of great trees to hang a hammock and if you have a camper or an RV there are great places to pull into. Most people think of the lake and they think of the canoeing and the swimming. Don't forget the great trails for hiking and some practice for backpacking around the lake. It is a good five mile loop and a ton of fun.

I also had a nice meal of Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef, Fresh Strawberries and Yogurt and some hot cocoa to top things off.

First to Review
Indian Mounds and hiking trails at Hickory Hills

This is a great little park just east of New Virginia, Iowa. I went to the park with my son and Boy Scout Troop for a night hike, that is why there are no pictures. This is a great little park. The hiking trails are pretty easy going through the forest and then opening up next to old Native American burial mounds. This is really a great place to pitch a tent. It is clean and well maintained.

First to Review
Great Park, not a great campground

I drive by East Lake on my way to church every Sunday. It is a great park with pavillion's, a lake, basketball, volleyball, horseshoe pits, playground equipment, etc.

There just isn't much for camping. It is very limited. There is not a shower house either. This paek really is to serve the residents of Osceola, Iowa to enjoy daytime activities.

First to Review
Lenon Mill is right next to Lake Panorama

This County Park is located right on the edge of Lake Panorama, a great town North West of Des Moines, Iowa. It is surrounded by amenities, so if you forget something you can drive five minutes into town to replace anything you forgot at home.

This is not a place to rough it, but if you have a family and want an outdoors experience close to amenities, this is the place for you. The campground is very clean and it is right next to a river.

Springbrook SP is Beautiful

Springbrook State Park is beautiful. It is surrounded by mature forests and is very clean with amenities for all types of campers. The lake is pristine and great for some canoeing or kayaking. this is a great place if you have a young family and want to do some weekend camping. I highly recommend it.

First to Review
Nations Bridge is a nice park

Nations Bridge County Park was clean with great trees and hiking trails as well as open spaces for frisbee golf and picnics It is a great campground if you have an RV or camper or just a tent.

Plenty of things to keep your family busy. If you are in a Scout Troop or have a youth group there is a large campsite away from the other campers that allows everyone to have fun without disturbing each other. This is a great campground and is just north of the city of Stuart right off of interstate 80.

The $12 Frozen Pizza is well worth it at Washington Creek

Washington Creek was an awesome place to end our trip. The campsites were right next to a cove and were awesome! The fox trying to steal our shoes in the middle of the night was annoying, but overall, a great experience.

The frozen pizza was awesome. You have the choice of sausage or cheese. We each ordered our own. The General Store has just the amenities that you want at the end of your journey. Especially a shower!!!

Isle Royale National Park is amazing and I can't wait to go back!!!

What's that noise? The sound of a trillion mosquitos!!!

South Lake Desour was my least favorite campsite on Isle Royale National Park. It felt suffocating with the afternoon heat and the bugs were insane. About 8:00 p.m. you had to dive into your tents to survive the mosquitos. The noise sounded like a jet engine out side the tent. Anyone without a bug net would be miserable.

Even at 7:00 a.m. in the morning when we were trying to pack up, we were bitten like crazy. Lesson learned: spray your clothes with permethrin before you go backpacking in Isle Royale. BUT it is Isle Royale national Park so it still gets three stars.

RANGER REVIEW: Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef at Hatchet Lake

This was one of the interior lakes on Isle Royale National Park. It is very pretty, and the water is a perfect temperature for swimming, but the mosquitos are thick in the interior of the island, especially at the interior lakes. All of the campsites at Hatchet Lake are comparable. I don't think there was a bad campsite.

RANGER REVIEW: One of the benefits of being a contributor on theDyrt is you are given the opportunity to test different gear. I had the Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef. It is freeze dried and very light for backpacking. The best part, it tastes great!!! I give the Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef 5/5 stars.

RANGER REVIEW: Mountain House Scrambled Eggs is 4/5 Stars

Todd Harbor was my favorite place we stayed on the island. The breeze from Lake Superior kept the bugs down and the campsite had awesome views of the lake. We stayed at site number 4, I highly recommend it, but get there early or someone will beat you to it.

RANGER REVIEW: For all of the reviews that I have performed on theDyrt, I was able to receive a lot of Mountain House freeze dried food to sample and review. I had the Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Ham and Peppers. Honestly, it is a really good breakfast. The two servings is a little much for me by myself, but it is a great portion to share with your camp buddy. I give it 4/5 stars.