I am not the "selfie" type. Part of the Crunchy Camping philosophy is that we generally shun technology when we're camping. You won't find iPads or tablets in our tent. We do have a smart phone, but I try to limit its use to photographic opportunities and occasionally finding our way home when the map is failing us. Camping is for guitars, playing cards, hiking and bonding, not Facebook. All this being said, Dolliver State Park has put an interesting spin on the camping experience, and I, of all people, found myself taking selfies in the park.
All summer long Webster County park services are holding a Selfie Scavenger Hunt in their two state parks, Brushy Creek and Dolliver. At each park you will find a list of clues to destinations within the park. You simply figure out the clue, hike or otherwise travel to the destination, and take a selfie. Once you complete the hunt you email your selfies to the park services and at the end of the summer someone will win a $30 gift card! The clues aren't easy, we had to ask the handy DNR guy for help, and they will take you all over the park, but that's the beauty of it. We saw things we'd have never taken the time to see without the hunt guiding us.
Dolliver is an amazing state park, the 3rd dedicated in Iowa. Tucked right where Prairie Creek meets the Des Moines River there are ample opportunities to get wet. The campground is small and it was packed full of people with canoes, kayaks, and inner tubes. we spent hours wading under the bridge in Prairie Creek. It was the perfect spot to cool off with the kiddos. When we got out of the water the hiking also proved to be incredible. Dolliver is full of signs that Native Americans once roamed the woods. You can see carvings and mounds as you hike around the Copperas Beds. Some of the hikes do have significant elevation changes, but you're rewarded with amazing views of the bluff and river valley. A highway winds slowly through the park and it makes it a destination for motorcyclists looking for a scenic day ride. Dolliver truly seems to have something for everybody.
While in Dolliver we made the quick jog up to Fort Dodge to tour the Historical Museum. If you go, you definitely need to take your time in the WWII room. There are pictures and artifacts there we've never seen anywhere else. And of course, the history of the Cardiff Giant makes the stop worth your time all on its own. We wandered through an authentic old streetscape and the kids marveled at the height of the fort walls.
All in all a weekend spent at Dolliver is a weekend well spent. On Friday night, the campground hosted an outdoor family friendly movie. On Saturday morning, we learned about bats. With all the wading and hiking our weekend was suddenly over. My favorite part? In the evening, a family a few campsites away had a guitar and held impromptu sing-alongs. The strains of Margaritaville drifting by as I stared lazily at the campfire made for the perfect end to a perfect day. But Margaritaville has got nothing on Dolliver.
Make you sure check out the pictures from our trip here.
- Finding firewood was once again something of an adventure. With $10 cash if you follow the signs you can find some in Lehigh, but good luck!
- Plan gassing your vehicle carefully, the towns immediately around Dolliver are tiny.
- Bring your swimsuit, your water shoes and your hiking boots.
- The county park people have a lot of events going on all the time. Check the flyers posted as you enter the campground so you don't miss out.
- Not all the hiking trails are completely well marked so make sure you have a map with you. Some spots are also a little slippery so watch your young and inexperienced hikers closely.
- Own a motorcycle? Make this your camping destination and you won't be disappointed.
- Bring your smartphone and practice your best selfie pose!