Tips for roughing it comfortably in Iowa parks as camping season opens

DES MOINES — With the unofficial first weekend of summer behind us, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is reminding Iowans about the multitude of state and county parks that offer camping options.

DNR wildlife biologist Matt Dollison says the more prominent and popular campsites often fill up quickly, so he recommends checking out the local spots, too.

Dollison says tent camping sites are typically more readily available and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, he adds there are a couple of tent-camping-specific tips to keep in mind.

“If you’re tent camping for the first time ever, try to plan for some shade in the morning,” he said. “If it’s shady at night when you’re setting it up, that might not be shady in the morning. If you set that tent up in the sun, it’s going to be unbearably hot in there generally by about 8 a.m.”

Dollison also recommends having supplies readily available, including bug and sun protection.

“There’s plenty of ticks out there at this time of year, and mosquitoes aren’t going to be too bad in most of our area with how dry it’s been, but bug spray is definitely something to consider having, and sunblock if you’re going to be out in the sun,” said Dollison.”

Learn more about Iowa’s state parks at