Memorial Day weekend is the symbolic start of summer. Nevermind that the first day of summer (according to the calendar) is nearly a month away on June 20. Americans will fire up the grills in their backyard or flock to campgrounds in an attempt to get away from it all.
Here is Eastern Iowa, there are several destinations that offer a place to hide from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You don’t have to go far. So pack up the tent or camper, throw some food in the cooler and hit the road.
It’s summer. Get out and enjoy it.
Palisades Kepler (near Mount Vernon on Highway 30)
- Camping: The campground at Palisades-Kepler has 44 campsites, 26 with electrical hookups. Modern shower and restroom facilities are available, as well as a trailer dump station. Book online in advance. Half of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are also four family cabins available for weekly rentals. The cabins, which can accommodate up to four persons, feature a shower, restroom, stovetop and refrigerator. Bring your own bedding, towels and other camping items. The cabins can also be reserved online through the park reservation system.
- While you’re there: Wander through the park on six miles of trails. There’s also a modern boat ramp for river access for fishing for a variety of species, including channel catfish, bass and bluegills.
Pleasant Creek (Palo)
- Camping: The Pleasant Creek campground has 69 campsites, 43 electrical hook-ups and 2 modern shower and rest room facilities. From the campground, campers have a pleasing view of much of the recreation area. Book online in advance. Half of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Four cabins, with electricity, microwave ovens, small refrigerators, basic furnishings, and covered porches, are available seasonally. Visitors must provide their own bedding, towels, cooking utensils and other camping items. Cabins are located near the campgrounds so cabin users will have use of the shower and toilet facilities. The cabins can be reserved online through the park reservation system.
- While you’re there: Picnic areas are located on the northeast and southeast shores. Several open shelters and the day-use lodge may reserved online through the park reservation system. There are 10 miles of trails. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and muskellunge and there are boat launches. A swimming area is located on the north shore.
Lake Macbride State Park (Solon)
- Getting there: The park is located in two units. The northern unit lies at the end of County Road F-16, 4 miles west of Solon. Here you will find a modern campground, boat ramps, beach and boat rental, picnic areas and the park office. The southern unit is located off County Road F-28 (Fifth Street in Solon), there miles west of Solon. The southern unit offers a non-modern campground, boat ramps, picnic areas, and a prairie.
- Camping: There are two campgrounds in the 2,180-acre Lake Macbride State Park. The modern campground in the northern unit of the park has 38 sites with electrical hookups with 10 of those having full hook ups, a shower and restroom and a trailer dump station. The non-modern campground in the southern park unit has 60 campsites and a non-flush restroom. Both campgrounds have a playground nearby. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. Half of the campsites are still available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- While you’re there: Lake Macbride State Park offers fishing, picnicking, swimming, hiking, camping, boating and more. Lake Macbride offers a five-mile scenic multi-use trail located along the lake from Solon to near the entrance to the park. Swimming is restricted to the designated beach area only. Catch walleyes, channel catfish, crappies and bluegill in the 812-acre artificial lake. There are seven boat ramps on the lake and one on Coralville Lake. Pontoons, motorboats, canoes and paddle boats are available for rent near the beach.
- Getting there: Coralville Lake has three campgrounds — the Dam, Sandy Beach and Sugar Bottom — with just more than 500 campsites.
Dam: The Dam Complex is comprised of five smaller campgrounds — Cottonwood, Linder Point, Tailwater East, Tailwater West and West Overlook. Campgrounds in the Dam Complex offer a variety of camp sites, from primitive tent sites to full hookup sites.
Sandy Beach: The Sandy Beach Campground is located on the northern part of the Coralville Lake, just 10 minutes south of Cedar Rapids. This campground offers a total of 60 campsites.
Sugar Bottom: The Sugar Bottom Campground is the largest campground at Coralville Lake. It is located in the middle of the Coralville Lake area. There are 224 campsites.
- While you’re there: The Dam Complex area offers lake and river fishing, boating activities, the Devonian Fossil Gorge, Visitor Center, 18-hole disc golf course, water skiing, and swimming. The other campgrounds also offer beach and lake access. At Sugar Bottom, find horseshoe pits, playgrounds, a swimming beach and boat ramp for registered campers, an 18-hole Disc golf course, 10 miles of mountain bike trials, modern shower facilities with hot and cold water and flush rest rooms and an amphitheater.