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Many of you may think that there isn’t much to do in little ‘ol Iowa. In fact, you just think we have corn, cows, and pigs; I’ve seen the news and heard the chatter. Iowa is one big corn field, right?! Well, you are greatly mistaken my friend! There is so much to do in my little state, and I’m proud to share with you one of the many adventures we’ve had!
Our [almost] Annual Trip
Every year, when we can, for the past 5 or 6 years, we go to a little town in northern Iowa named Eldora. There you’ll find a little place called Rock ‘N Row Adventures . It’s beautiful country with lush trees, subtle hills and, the lovely Iowa River. The atmosphere is welcoming, and the people are always friendly (in my experience). It’s truly a beautiful part of the state that offers serene views of small town, country living, and timber/river sights alike.
We normally tent camp for 2 nights (usually Friday and Saturday) at RNR’s campgrounds. I would say that the cost is fairly high, but we have so much fun we always pay it. You don’t have to stay, but we like to. That gives us more time to relax and spend time together!
RNR does have a complimentary band that plays every Saturday. Honestly, I’m never impressed in the years we’ve gone, but that’s not why we go. This year was especially NOT GOOD, but it gave us something to laugh about around the fire.
I should also add that they do have showers and a toilet to use at the main office location as well as port-a-potties throughout the campgrounds. If you are camping, you can choose to have a spot with electrical hook-ups or ones without. They also offer firewood for you to purchase making it less of a hassle to haul your own. And because there is civilization not far away, If you forget to bring something you can run up to Steam Boat to purchase your items in town. It’s conveniently less than a 10 minute drive.
Before you consider coming to this place, you’ll need to consider a few things first. Coming to RNR isn’t for the faint of heart; if you don’t like nature this isn’t for you. You’ll need to get out of your tube occasionally. You may get banged up on rocks and trees in the water. You will encounter bugs and sometimes other wildlife. The temperatures vary from hot and muggy to chilly and damp. Needless to say, if you are squeamish with nature or the great outdoors, it will be a good learning experience for you! I would also like to point out that this place tends to attract the early-twenty somethings (or any age rather) stuck in their party phase. You’ll be witness to long nights of drinking, bachelor/ette parties, etc. It’s not a bad thing, and seems pretty fun, but you need to know your surroundings before you get settled in. So it’s perhaps not the greatest place to bring your children.
I know I remember those party days well, but I would say our group has grown out of those late nights and sick mornings. We tolerate the neighbors and their shenanigans and humor the folks that wander into our camp after they’ve had a few too many drinks, it’s kinda fun. All the while we are having a nice time catching up around the fire. We joked this year about how we are the ‘old’ ones of all the groups lately (we are all in our 30’s). We do see older couples there, though, so don’t let that deter you! It’s a fantastic time to meet all kinds of people.
We’ve only missed a couple years coming here just when the river was too high, or the weather was too chilly to manage both tent camping and/or floating the river. For the most part, though, we’ve been pretty lucky to see good weather and ideal river conditions.It’s a good spot to visit if you want to enjoy a nice tube float, while sipping on your favorite drink, and hanging with your tribe.
Depending on where you get in at, the depth of the water, speed of the current, and how often you stop, your trip could be anywhere from 3 to 5 hours. We’ve had floats where we started around 5 miles further north, near a town called Steam Boat Rock, and ended in 3 hours (water was SUPER high and fast), and we’ve had a longer float when started just a couple miles north of camp and enjoyed a 4 hour float.
Our August 2017 float was almost perfect. The temp was around 83 degrees, and we took off in the RNR bus around noonish and dropped off at our starting point. There, they provided us with our own tubes, floating garbage bins for every 4 people in our group, and complimentary tubes for the coolers we brought along for the float.
Once we were on the water, we were in for what would be a little over a 5 hour float. The river was a little low so “butt up” and “rock/tree ahead” were common phrases, but in our experience tubing, we’d rather the water be low than be too high.
We had a nice time meeting other people as we stopped on the sandbars, and had a nice time taking pictures and enjoying one-another’s company. The water felt nice and the sun shone just perfectly for our day.
Our float landed back at the campgrounds. We hauled in our tubes, grabbed our coolers and headed back to camp. Just in time to get dinner ready and relax for the evening.
Oh, and as a side-note if you have time and aren’t completely wore out, not far away is the Follet Mansion, where the last scene of the movie Twister was filmed. See! Iowa isn’t that lame after all! Here is some information on the house that includes a map of how to get there. It’s pretty neat!
Minimal River Floating/Camping Packing List
I wanted to provide just a small list of must-have’s if you decide to go on a short floating/camping trip! If you bring kids this list may need adjusted, so this simplified list is intended for an adult couple for all intents and purposes.
- Water Shoes
- Dry Bag
- Drinking Water
- Container for garbage
- River safe Tube
- Life Jacket (optional but highly suggested for non-swimmers especially)
- Sleeping Pad/blow-up mattress/Bedding
- Iced Cooler of Food
- Camp Stove/propane or grate for cooking over your campfire
- Cookware/Mess Kit
- Flash Light
- Bug Spray
- Pocket Chairs
- Drinking Water
I hope you can use these lists and my experience to help plan your very own camping and/or floating excursion!
Best of luck!