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Camping Lake Coralville Park in Iowa

Listen to our interview with Kathy Atkinson from Lake Coralville Park here:

Lake Coralville Park Camping

Camp Iowa: I’m chatting with Kathy Atkinson from Lake Coralville Park, and you are in Iowa City, Iowa. Is that right?

Kathy: Yes we are.

Camp Iowa: Looking at the website a little bit, and I haven’t had the good fortune of being able to visit this park, but it looks huge. It looks like you have a lot of activities going on there.

Kathy: Yeah, we do. We have a lot of summer-type activities – swimming, camping, boating, hiking, fishing. All your standard outdoor activities.

Camp Iowa: How about a little bit about the history of the park? How long has it been there?

Kathy: Coralville Dam is a federal Corps of Engineers park, so we were authorized as a flood control project in 1958. So it was built and started operation then, and we have about 500 campsites and three main parks along the lake. We’ve got about 23 miles of lake from the dam all the way to the north of the lake. We have a hiking trail, we have a veteran’s trail, we have camping, fishing, swimming, boating. Lots of activities. We have special events throughout the year – triathlons, running events, mountain bike trails where we have mountain bike races. Just a wide variety of activities.

Lake Coralville Dam. Photo courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers
Lake Coralville Dam. Photo courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers

Camp Iowa: Yeah, the beach looks huge in this picture on your website.

Kathy: Yep. We have a large swimming beach that’s very popular during the summertime.

Camp Iowa: If I was going to stay there for the weekend and was going to venture out with my family and do some other things as well, what are some other attractions in the area?

Kathy: We are very close to the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, so the university hospitals, all the activities that the university has. And then the second largest shopping area in Iowa at Coral Ridge shopping mall. There’s biking trails in Iowa City and Coralville, that type of stuff.

Camp Iowa: Do you guys have facilities right there where you sell ice and foodstuffs for campers, or do they have to grab that somewhere else?

Kathy: They have to get that before they come to our park, which there’s a lot of small towns near a number of our parks, so that’s usually not a problem getting the supplies before they arrive.

Camp Iowa: Do you have large group sites to accommodate reunions and that kind of thing?

Kathy: We do have a group campground area that’s located at Sugar Bottom. There are 29 sites that individuals can reserve in advance, and all of those advanced reservations, and for our single-site reservations, are accepted at Recreation.gov.

Camp Iowa: If you were only going to the park for one hour, how would you spend your time? What would you do?

Kathy: I would go visit the Devonian Fossil Gorge area. It was created first when the 1993 floods overtopped our spillway and washed out one of our campgrounds below the overflow spill area. It has lots of fossils from 375 million years ago. There’s sea life type plants and that kind of stuff. Really cool.

Devonian Fossil Gorge. Photo courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers
Devonian Fossil Gorge. Photo courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers

Camp Iowa:That sounds really cool. And if you could spend just one night in the campground, which particular campsite would you stay at?

Kathy: I would go to Sugar Bottom.

Camp Iowa: And for what reason?

Kathy: It is our largest, and it has the mountain bike trail, which you can also hike on. We have two swimming beaches up there, hiking trails along the road into the campground. Lots of access to the lake up there.

Camp Iowa: Okay. That’s going to be some great information for our listeners. That’s about all I have today. Thanks a lot for your time this morning, Kathy.

Kathy: Thanks a lot for calling.

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