Date of Stay: September, 2015 - $12.00
Several campgrounds to choose from. We stayed at Tail Water West, just below the dam. This area is the only one with full hookups. We happened in on a Sunday afternoon and was able to get a lot for overnight. I doubt that one could get in on weekends without a reservation. The lots were large, shaded and have huge concrete patios. We did not have wifi or cable but for an overnight stay it was perfect. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Fifth Wheel.
Visitor Center host couple knew absolutely nothing about the campgrounds. Pay station, at the entrance to one campground, didn't open until 12noon and they were no help. Departure times for campers already on site is 5PM and we got there at 12NOON. We visited three campgrounds before finding vacant sites in Tailwater West, none with full hookups available. There are a total of 16 in the entire complex with full hookups. Dump station is in the midst of it all and easy to access. The sites in Tailwater West are paved, wide and lots of room for patio, all with fire rings. COE staff was helpful, rangers assisted finding us an open site. We were told Tailwater West would be very loud due to heavy traffic in and out of the fishing area but we didn't notice in T-10. Since Tailwater West is at the base of the dam, tucked into the canyon along the river, there is IFFY Wi-Fi, no cell phone and poor TV reception. A good place to relax and just kick back. In spite of all the confusion we would return when in the area. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Fifth Wheel.
Tips for other Campers:
Visit the nearby AMANA Colonies. Get the brochure for Devonian Fossil Gorge at the CG and do the walking tour of "A Window into Iowas's Geologic Past," near the entrance to Tailwest Campground.
Very nice COE park located just outside of Iowa City. We stayed in the Tailwater West area, which is at the foot of the dam. Park was very clean. Electric was steady, water was 80PSI. There are several full hook up sites, some with water and electric only. In other camping loops, there are some with electric only. Plenty of shade, good for fishing. There is a beach and boat launch in the complex, but not directly off of Tailwater West. There is a mix of day use and camping here which we didn't care for, its a bit disconcerting to come out of your camper and find someone fishing or picnicking just a few yards off the back of your site, but we still enjoyed the loop. There is a wonderful fossil gorge that the public is free to explore, the visitors center was very nice and volunteers were friendly and helpful. Plenty of restaurants and shopping nearby. There was a good staff presence here as well. We would stay here again. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Motorhome.
Tips for other Campers:
Eat at the Hamburg Inn and visit the Natural History Museum at the University of Iowa. Old style museum displays, geological, mammal and bird exhibits were very interesting.
Our site was river front below the dam. Park and campground were very clean. The sites are well spaced with grass between them. Sites have concrete pads that are wide, deep and easy to back into. Also had a picnic table and fire pit at each site. Each campground had a fish cleaning station and clean restrooms and showers. Staff was friendly at check in and at the visitors center. There is a gorge that was washed out after two floods that is full of fossils. We enjoyed roaming through the gorge. We would definitely stay here again. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Travel Trailer.
Bring your bug spray! No staff or station was available upon check-in. Campground was clean and included many trees for campsite shade. Our campsite was level and included a view of the river. Pull-through sites are also available. Verizon phone was able to get 4G signal. Make sure you pick an open site, as we were not able to get a satellite signal (space E13). Campground within 8 miles of the freeway (I-80) and 15 minutes away from the Coralville Mall, which includes; dining, shopping, theaters, indoor ice skating rink, grocery, hardware store (Lowes) and gas stations. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Fifth Wheel.
This is a beautiful camping spot, however it is rather confusing to make reservations online. There are 5 campgrounds, very few with full hookups. We couldn't get a full hookup online, only electric, so not sure if that can only be done once you arrive at the campground. It seems that the 'electric only' sites are available when searching sites online. When you get your site number, it is in a shorthand code, so be sure to print the map off their website so you know where to go. There is no legend for the code on their site but it's pretty straight forward. The directions on their site tell you that West Overlook Rd. goes to the park entrance. This is only true if your site is at this particular campground. There was nobody to help at this entrance's office. There was a sign that tells you to 'find your site' then come back to register or fill out paperwork there if nobody is in the office. Many campers don't understand that, especially if they made online reservations and paid online for their spot. We were lucky to find someone from the area that was camping in West Overlook and they led us to our site, which was clear across the other side of the dam. Later in the evening the park ranger came by and told us we had to go to the office to register so that we could get a tag to hang off the rear-view mirror in our car. Needless to say the check-in process was frustrating. That being said, it was a beautiful site (we were in Tailwater East) and campers here were there to enjoy nature. There were no motorized vehicles, other than cars. We would camp here again now that we know how it works. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Motorhome.
Despite multiple thundershowers, had a wonderful stay in this great COE park. Had one of the few full hookup and 50A sites; nice paved site and patio with surrounding grassy area. Poor Verizon cell service, which restricted use of hot spot also. Would definitely return to this park. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Fifth Wheel.
The RV space had a lot of grass around it and for the next few days, we almost had the entire campground to ourselves. Behind our RV was the massive Coralville Dam only a few hundred feet away. 300 ft. away was the massive spillway, which a large amount of white noise and was amazing to see gushes of water pour through it. There are lots of kid activities and areas for little people to roam here, the beach is huge and leads right up to the reservoir. Near it is a gigantic, clean, playground. We only had electric/water as they campground was booked up for the weekend. I wish we had sewer, but we rationed showers during our stay. Would I recommend this park? Yes. Would we come back? Yes. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Motorhome.
I would suggest entering off of I-80 and follow signs to park. Very easy and well marked. We had a pull through site. It was rather small. We got in late at night and thought it would be easier, not much room on either side of us. We walked around and the back ins were very spacious. We only stayed here for just a stop over,and it was just fine for it. It is a very beautiful park and a lot to see and do. I would like to stop back when we could stay longer. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Fifth Wheel.
Excellent COE park. Paved sites with full hookups, very well maintained complex. The restroom are spotless. Only drawback was "non-working" check-in staff. Wanted us to go to campsites and see which one's were reserved rather than look at her computer screen. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Motorhome.
Date of Stay: October, 2012 - $11.00
COE park. Rate is for FHU and senior discount. Sites are paved, level, with some pull throughs. Excellent park with fishing available. There are several separate parks in the Complex. We camped at Dam Complex COE in a Motorhome.