Dolliver State Park an Iowa State Park Oasis
This summer we discovered Dolliver Memorial State Park while participating in the Travel Iowa Passport Challenge. This park is about an hour northwest of Des Moines, Iowa. It reminds me a lot of Ledges State Park!
Dolliver State Park is located on the Des Moines River and when you enter the park you drop down into a “valley”. It is very shaded with trees and sandstone. One of the things that makes Dolliver State Park unique is the Copperas Beds which is a sandstone formation. There is a 100-foot bluff on the Prairie Creek which shoots off from the Des Moines River and runs through the state park. It is a fun area to stomp in the water, explore and even hike to the top of the bluff, which we did!
Dolliver State Park offers several hiking trails, but our favorite (also the most difficult) was the one that led up on top of the bluff and to Indian Mounds. When you reach the top, you can enjoy some truly gorgeous views. The hiking trails are a little hard to follow. I recommend printing off a map before you go! One trail we did not get a chance to explore was the Bone Yard Hollow trail. Just another reason to make another visit!
One of our favorite things to do while visiting any state or national park is looking for fun finds such as rocks, sticks, fossils, footprints, and more. The kids enjoyed finding all sorts of treasures including fun insects, a fossil print in the sand, rocks, and even mussels. Yes! There are mussels in the Des Moines River. This was new to us. Learn all about it here.
Dolliver also offers a small playground with tons of field space to play.
You can visit this state park for the day or camp for the weekend. We recently just purchased our very own popup camper (more details to come!) and we could not wait to take it on it’s a maiden voyage to Dolliver State Park. Their campground was perfect for our first camping experience. They offered nice shower and bathroom facilities, lots of shade, and rock steps down to the Des Moines River to explore.
Brushy Creek State Park
Brushy Creek State Park is about 20 minutes away from Dolliver State Park and they also have a swimming beach. We decided to take an afternoon trip to cool off in the lake. It was an okay experience. You could tell that the shore of the lake has moved back, so the beach closest to the water was literally on a hill. The water dropped quickly once you entered. We did not spend a ton of time actually “swimming”, but the kids had fun splashing and searching for snails and mussels.