Dolliver Memorial State Park is located in Webster County, Iowa. The 457 acre park is roughly midway between Fort Dodge and Lehigh. Prairie Creek stream is one of the most pervasive elements of the park, running over the main road at one point. A series of hiking trails take visitors through the northern section of the park and along the Des Moines River. Bicycles and horses are not allowed along these trails, which are reserved solely for people traveling on foot. Some sections of the trails can be a little rugged.
Day Use Lodges
There are two lodges at Dolliver State Park that can be rented for day use. The lodges were built in the 1930s, and are big enough to comfortably accommodate up to 100 people at a time. Many local residents use these lodges as scenic meeting locations or retreats for business purposes. Parties, weddings, and receptions are also commonly held in the lodges. Due to their popularity, the lodges must be reserved well in advance to make sure they are available on the preferred dates. The Dolliver Memorial State Park day lodges are available year round.
Dolliver State Park contains the Lehigh Campground. More than 30 modern campsites are available for campers. Each site has electrical hookups for recreational vehicles. Modern, clean restrooms are available at the park, as well as showers and a dumping site for trash. Dolliver allows half of the camp sites to be reserved in advance, while the other half are left open for campers to use on a first come, first served basis. The camp sites provide a beautiful view of the Des Moines river as it flows through the state park. Lehigh provides easy access to the trails and popular sites at Dolliver.
One of the more unique attractions at the Dolliver Memorial State Park is a cross section that has been cut from a dried up riverbed, known as Copperas Beds. This cross section provides a glimpse of the ecological system in the area for the last 150 million years. The cross section is located on a 100 foot bluff that has been slowly exposed over generations by the Prairie Creek that runs along its base. The red color of the sandstone is what gives the Copperas Beds its name. Visitors can take one of the many park trails directly to the base of this ancient bluff, where they can see the deposits that have collected over the years. Copperas Beds is an area that is rich in calcite and sulfur deposits because the sandstone is porous and collects the minerals as they pass through in the creek water.
Another popular area of Dolliver Memorial State Park is Boneyard Hollow. The hollow is a narrow ravine that runs between two high rock walls. It earned its name from early Iowan settlers who discovered the ravine was filled with old animal bones. It is speculated that early native people used the ravine as a way to trap large numbers of bison in order to kill and butcher them. They would cause the bison to stampede, and then drive the herd toward the ravine. The bison would fall into the ravine and get trapped so that the natives could slaughter them for food.
Visitors to Boneyard Hollow will also learn about a famous hoax that happened in the area in the early 1900s. A family found what appeared to be an ancient tablet that was dated 1701 and inscribed in Latin. Upon further examination, however, the tablet was discovered to be a fake.
Trails, Boating, and Fishing
Dolliver Memorial State Park is also home to the traditional outdoor activities you would expect to find at a state park. You can walk the hiking trails, take a boat out on the river, or fish along the river banks. There is a modern boat ramp located on the Des Moines River that is equipped to provide a landing dock for most types of small boats. Once on the river, you can cruise along the banks or find a quiet grove and catch fish for your evening meal. Canoes are also commonly found going in and out of the river at the boat ramp.