the dyrt
Matt S.
Near Des Moines , IA
Joined August 2016
Eagle Scout, Outdoors Junkie, Prosecutor, Husband, Father & Iowa Hawkeyes fan.
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.

Our First stop on the Island

A small group of family and friends left the luxuries of home to backpack thirty miles in Isle Royale National Park. It was an amazing experience and I look forward to taking the rest of my children here as they grow up.

The first leg of our journey was a boat ride from Grand Portage, Minnesota to McCargoe Cove. We did not do much backpacking the first day. We did hike around the area and set up camp to take it easy our first night. We elected to stay in our own tents, but those who wanted more amenities could take advantage of several small shelters built in each camp.

Other than Windigo and Rock Harbor, there are no amenities other than some shelters and latrines.

McCargoe Cove is set in a cove right off Lake superior, so this spot is especially popular with the fishermen since there is a nice dock and ease of access for their boats. This was a nice place to stay but it wasn't my favorite.

I tried some new food at McCargoe Cove that I highly recommend: NOKA - Mango/Coconut was fantastic.

First to Review
Railroad tracks are biggest problem, otherwise a nice campground

This is a small city park, great for a weekend stop or a traveler passing by on Interstate 80. This camp is just about five minutes off of the interstate. It is clean and well taken care of. The biggest downside is that the camp is right next to the railroad tracks, so if you have small kids or are a light sleeper you may want to keep that in mind before staying here. If you are a traveler, don't worry, Adair City Park and Casey City Campground are very close and a comparable alternative.

Small City Park

This campground is right off the interstate in the small town of Casey Iowa. This is a small town. There is a little diner and a few businesses, but if you camp here make sure you have not forgotten anything important at home.

The campground is clean and perfect for someone with a camper or an RV.

Look for the Yellow Smiley Face Water Tower

This is a small campground in a small town right of interstate 80 in central Iowa. This is a great weekend spot for locals or an overnight spot for a weary traveler on their way through Iowa. This is ideal for a camper of fifth wheel. Not necessarily where I would want to camp with a tent.

You are real close to a Kum & Go and Caseys General Store if you forgot some of your supplies at home. The campground is really clean.

Grand Portage is the last stop in MN to Isle Royale NP

Grand Portage Lodge and Casino is not what I imagine as a place to pitch a tent, but right next to the marina is an RV park and a bunch of spots for tents. I'm not a gambler so this is not normally a destination for me, but it is the best place to camp to make it to the Ferry by 6:30 a.m. the next morning to be transported to a paradise in Isle Royale National Park.

The nice thing about the campground is that you sit on a hill and look out at lake superior. There is a large gas station next to the marina where you can make phone calls at a pay phone (There is no cell service) and get some last minute treats before you head out on the boat.

This is the place to stay if you are going to Isle Royale National Park from Minnesota.

Prairie Flower is huge with a lot of amenities

Prairie Flower is run by the Army Corps of Engineers. It is huge! There are so many campsites that when it is full it can become a maze. It is clean and well maintained with lots to do at Saylorville Lake. There are several Recreation areas nearby that don't allow camping, making Prairie Flower a perfect place to stay. By the way, the campground is full of wild flowers, thus the name Prairie Flower.

Jester Park is clean and quiet

As a kid our boy scout troop always came and camped at Jester Park for our troop campouts. A lot has changed since then. The County has invested a lot of resources into this park making it a great place to stay when enjoying the fun at Saylorville Lake. The facilities are modern and clean and there is some real pride at this park. I highly recommend it.

First to Review
Acorn Valley is well maintained but closed after Labor Day

I tried to stay at Acorn Valley to find out it is closed after Labor Day. Bummer. I was able to get out and look around. It is clean and well maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. It is near the lake and a nice place to use as a home base for spending time at Saylorville Lake.

Great boating and tons of fun a Big Creek, but no camping.

The only reason this is one star is because there is no campgrounds that I could find anywhere. This is a great place for family fun. Boating, biking, shooting, picnics and more. Camp at Jester Park and then play at Big Creek State Park.

UPDATE: Nine Eagles has some upgrades

Update: I returned to nine eagles this year with our Boy Scout Troop. They have spent some money since I was last here building new pavilions and updating some of the equipment. The group site still doesn't have restroom facilities but it is not to far to walk to a bathroom. The grounds are well kept and the camp host is really friendly. This campground remains a solid four stars. I highly recommend it.

Frisbee Golf at Walnut Ridge

I wish there was a campground here but you have to stay at nearby Acorn Valley if you want to camp. It is beautiful area though and it is worth visiting. It is very clean and has a huge frisbee golf course. It is in the middle of a beautiful neighborhood with large homes.

This is a Beautiful REC Area, but no camping

I wish there was a campground here but you have to stay at nearby Prairie Flowers Campground if you want to camp. It is beautiful area though and it is worth visiting. It is connected to the Neil Smith Bike Trail and has huge open spaces with pavilions and grills for picnics or large group events. It also has nice views of Saylorville Lake.

OZARK TRAIL: Peter Cave Hollow Creek

OZARK TRAIL: I backpacked 50 miles during spring break on the Ozark Trail between Council Bluff Lake and Johnson Shutins State park. When I planned the trip the only information for camping that was available were regulations requiring you to camp 100 feet from the trail.

I have to admit that the Ozark Trail Association provides amazing resources about the Ozark Trail but they fail to describe what has become primitive backcountry campsites all along the trail. Many of these sites are marked on the detailed National Geographic maps provided for free by the Association as water holes, but they are also clearly set up as campsites as well.

Make sure you bring a water purifier. It is some of the best tasting water I have ever had.

PETER CAVE HOLLOW CREEK: The weather in the Ozarks can be unpredictable. We were expecting temperatures in the 50's to 60's and ended up getting snowed on several days. It slowed us down tremendously. It was nice having a solid water source next to the campsite and someone hauled in some chairs which made it nice as well. This is a solid campsite. Tip: Dig your cat hole before you go to sleep and make sure it is at least 100 feet from the water.

OZARK TRAIL: Padfield Branch

OZARK TRAIL: I backpacked 50 miles during spring break on the Ozark Trail between Council Bluff Lake and Johnson Shutins State park. When I planned the trip the only information for camping that was available were regulations requiring you to camp 100 feet from the trail.

I have to admit that the Ozark Trail Association provides amazing resources about the Ozark Trail but they fail to describe what has become primitive backcountry campsites all along the trail. Many of these sites are marked on the detailed National Geographic maps provided for free by the Association as water holes, but they are also clearly set up as campsites as well.

Make sure you bring a water purifier. It is some of the best tasting water I have ever had.

PADFIELD BRANCH: This is an interesting campsite. It has a natural spring that feeds one creek with another creek running separately on the other side. There is also some old remnants of what used to be a living quarters for someone who lived in the woods. It has been long abandoned and is falling over but it offers some fun exploring. Tip: Dig your cat hole before you go to sleep and make sure it is at least 100 feet from the water.

OZARK TRAIL: Telleck Branch

OZARK TRAIL: I backpacked 50 miles during spring break on the Ozark Trail between Council Bluff Lake and Johnson Shutins State park. When I planned the trip the only information for camping that was available were regulations requiring you to camp 100 feet from the trail.

I have to admit that the Ozark Trail Association provides amazing resources about the Ozark Trail but they fail to describe what has become primitive backcountry campsites all along the trail. Many of these sites are marked on the detailed National Geographic maps provided for free by the Association as water holes, but they are also clearly set up as campsites as well.

Make sure you bring a water purifier. It is some of the best tasting water I have ever had.

TELLECK BRANCH: Telleck Branch is the closest back country campsite south of Council Bluff Lake. It is three miles north of Big River. If you are hiking south from Council Bluff Lake I highly suggest that you keep going and hit Big River if you are able. If you can't go any further, there is a creek with water and a number of sites to pitch a tent. I can fit 5-10 people. Tip: Dig your cat hole before you go to sleep and make sure it is at least 100 feet from the water.

OZARK TRAIL: Panther Branch

OZARK TRAIL: I backpacked 50 miles during spring break on the Ozark Trail between Council Bluff Lake and Johnson Shutins State park. When I planned the trip the only information for camping that was available were regulations requiring you to camp 100 feet from the trail.

I have to admit that the Ozark Trail Association provides amazing resources about the Ozark Trail but they fail to describe what has become primitive backcountry campsites all along the trail. Many of these sites are marked on the detailed National Geographic maps provided for free by the Association as water holes, but they are also clearly set up as campsites as well.

Make sure you bring a water purifier. It is some of the best tasting water I have ever had.

PANTHER BRANCH: Panther Branch is about three miles south of Big River, so if it is too early in the Day to stop you are not far from another campsite if you want to push forward. I thought Panther Branch was clean. It was close to a nice waterway and had a fire ring for a campfire. It was a pleasant quiet campsite Tip: Dig your cat hole before you go to sleep and make sure it is at least 100 feet from the water.