Big Changes for Backcountry Camping at Hitchcock Nature Center

Big Changes for Backcountry Camping at Hitchcock Nature Center

By Kate Simmons, Pottawattamie County Conservation Community Relations Coordinator
Hitchcock Nature Center’s backcountry campsites provide a unique experience for area adventurers & have grown in popularity since their creation. Pottawattamie County Conservation is excited to announce some changes as we gear up for the 2017 season that will help us better manage these areas and help you, our park users, enjoy them even more.  New campsites, new facilities, new pricing & a new reservation policy are all beginning January 1st, 2017 so read on and see what all the changes are about!

New Sites!

We couldn’t be happier to have ever increasing numbers of campers enjoying our backcountry sites and to keep up with the recent demand our staff has added two brand new campsites for 2017. These new sites add to our overall capacity & also provide a brand new amenity for backcountry campers, hammock facilities! Staff is very excited about these new additions & are eagerly awaiting the beginning of the spring camping season so we can evaluate the public response.
Download our 2017 Backcountry Camping Brochure Here
Here are all SEVEN of our campsites!
Site #1, Hohneke Pond
Site #1 Hohneke Pond

Site #1 Hohneke Pond

This existing site features a single tent camping pad & fire ring in a quiet alcove next to our pond. Click here for more details!
Site #2, Fox Run Ridge
Site #2, Fox Run Ridge

Site #2, Fox Run Ridge

This existing site features a single tent camping pad & fire ring adjacent to the main trail with stunning views of the Missouri River nearby. Click here for more details!
Site #3, Cottonwood
Site #3, Cottonwood

Site #3, Cottonwood

One of our most popular existing campsites, Cottonwood features a single tent camping pad & fire ring offset from the main trail with expansive Missouri River Valley views. Click here for more details!
Site #4, High Point
Site #4, High Point

Site #4, High Point

This incredibly popular campsite is located along the western most ridge of the park and features a single tent camping pad & fire ring with terrific views. Click here for more details!
Site #5, Badger Ridge
Site #5, Badge Ridge

Site #5, Badge Ridge

Our 5th existing campsite, Badger Ridge is also the southern most campsite in the park. It is a group site with accommodations for up to two tents & includes a fire ring & views of our remnant prairie habitat. Click here for more details!
Site #6, Shea Way
Site #6, Shea Way

Site #6, Shea Way

Brand new for 2017! The Shea Way campsite is our largest group campsite with 4 camping pads for tents & accommodations for up to 3 hammocks! This campsite also features a fire ring and a covered picnic shelter. Click here for more details!
Site #7, Heritage
Site #7, Heritage

Site #7, Heritage

Our newest addition to our backcountry sites features accommodations for up to three hammocks, we also allow a single tent in this site but there is no camping pad provided. This site is adjacent to the main trail in beautiful Loess Hills woodlands and features a fire ring. Click here for more details!

New Pricing!

With the addition of two new campsites & increased usage of the facilities our costs for maintaining our backcountry campsites have been increasing steadily. We have made the difficult decision to increase our cost for camping in a backcountry site to $7.50 per tent/hammock, per night. Raising prices is never an easy decision but we are sure this increase will help us maintain & improve backcountry facilities as we head towards the future.

Online Reservations!

Hammock Posts at Site #7, Heritage.

Hammock Posts at Site #7, Heritage.

To help us better manage the increased number of sites & the number of campers we are seeing we have made the move to advance, online reservations. Beginning January 1st, 2017 all backcountry sites will require an advance, online reservation on www.mycountyparks.com. This is big change from our previous policy of first come, first served camping & we are hoping this will make using our backcountry sites easier. Reservations must be made in advance & will require advance payment. We recommend reserving your campsite at least 24 to 48 hours in advance.
Only backcountry campsites will be reservable, camping in our main tent & RV campground will remain first come, first served as it has in years past.
The beauty of the online reservation system is that you are able to plan your visits in advance and secure the campsite of your choice before you even arrive! You can also check out our campsites & book them 24 hours a day! To reserve a campsite you will need to visit www.mycountyparks.com & create a log in profile. Once you have your account set up you can head over to the Hitchcock Nature Center page & start shopping!
Once you have selected your campsite & the dates of your stay you will be asked to review our rental & cancellation policies. Don’t forget to provide the make, model & license plate information for all vehicles associated with your group. We also ask that you make sure to check the appropriate additional fees box if your group will be occupying a group site & will have additional tents or hammocks. Camping fees are calculated according to the number of tents & hammocks that are occupying the site so it is important that you check those boxes to ensure the correct fee amount is paid. Don’t forget to print your reservation confirmation page and bring it with you to the park. The reservation confirmation page will need to be placed on your dash to act as your entrance pass into the park.
FAQ’s
When can I reserve a campsite?
Anytime between now your date of arrival for camping in 2017, but your online reservation MUST BE COMPLETE BEFORE YOU OCCUPY YOUR CAMPSITE. Campers without a complete online reservation will be asked to vacate the campsite. Camping for 2018 will open for reservation on September 1st, 2017.
Can I reserve them in person or over the phone?
You may still call the park during regular business hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 712-545-3283.  Available staff will be able to take your reservation down for you. Please review our campsites and have a first and second choice selected, your date of arrival & departure, your total number of tents or hammocks, & vehicle make, model & license information ready & have your credit card ready for payment. Advance payment with a credit card over the phone is required & due to staffing we cannot guarantee any reservations can be made if you call over the weekend or less than 48 hours in advance of your arrival. Leaving a voicemail does not mean you have a confirmed reservation. You must speak to staff & process your payment for your reservation to be considered complete.
Registering in person is no longer available without speaking to a park ranger. Please plan ahead. Walk in campers will be directed to the first come, first served tent campground in our main camping area if the park ranger is not available to process the reservation.
What if I’m meeting someone to camp & will be driving separately?
A paid camping reservation admits one vehicle to the park. If driving together is not an option any additional vehicles will need to  purchase a $2.00 daily entrance pass at the front gate with cash or check or they will need a valid Pottawattamie County Parks annual permit for entrance.  Please note the make, model and color of all vehicles associated with your campsite when you make your online reservation.
For other questions regarding cancellations, refunds, & anything else you can think of please visit our backcountry campsite pages on www.mycountyparks.com or email Kate Simmons at katherine.simmons@pottcounty-ia.gov.
Happy Camping!