Best known for its rich farming history, Iowa is also rich and diverse in nature, with a multitude of destinations to camp and hike. If you’re planning on camping in Iowa, you’re in luck.
Effigy Mounds National Monument is situated on the bank of the Mississippi River at the eastern border of Iowa. Part of the “driftless” region of Iowa that was left untouched by the passing glaciers thousands of years ago, the area’s bluffs, forests, and other habitats host diverse ecosystems to explore and admire.
More than that, Effigy Mounds is notable for its historic settlement by the Native American Effigy Moundbuilders, who build massive sets of mounds that, from a bird’s eye view, form the shape of animals such as bears, cats, and birds. These nature-inspired monuments blend well with the natural scenery, making it an ideal site for camping.
Another excellent site for camping in Iowa is Maquoketa Caves State Park. Located next to the eastern Iowa town of Maquoketa, the 370-acre park contains amazing caves weaving throughout the limestone bedrock of the bluffs. Spelunkers and nature-enthusiasts alike will enjoy exploring the caverns, such as the 800-foot long Dancehall Cave.
Even if you’re not up for venturing into the caverns, there are plenty of other things to do at Maquoketa Caves. Hikers can walk along six miles of trails throughout the park, passing by habitats ranging from bluffs to woodlands to prairies. Unfortunately, the campgrounds are closed until October 2018 for renovations to the camping facilities, but when it is open again you should definitely consider a visit.
Camping in Iowa is diverse and plentiful, there are countless campsites and trails that you may wish to consider. Once you start exploring Iowa’s natural ecosystems, you’ll begin to see the true beauty of the vibrant state.
I think if we were here when it is less buggy, we would have enjoyed it much more but at the end of May, we saw a guy wearing a head net he said he wouldn’t sell to us for a$100 (and we probably would have paid it!)
Be aware if you approach from the north, you will see signs for the park that say no camping! But then there is a sign that says camping is two miles down the road, however, the sign is very easy to miss, and we passed it.
Sites are nice and spaced a decent bit apart. Site 15 has a nice shade tree. Bathrooms and showers are clean but there are no hooks in the bathrooms to hang towels or toiletries and the bathrooms are separate from the showers. The building has a cement walkway around it but you have to walk through the grass to get there.
There are beautiful overlooks of the Mississippi River from paved walking trails. The camp hosts were very friendly.
Took my son here last Spring. Cabins are very clean the bunks allowed for for four to sleep. Beautiful sunsets overlooking the lake. Fish cleaning station was also well taken care of. We had a great time catching small walleyes and sunnys. This location also made it easy to head over to twelvel mile lake and fish also. Everyone was very friendly.
This campground has a beautiful little lake (glad to see it back) The museum is fun afternoon trip to hike to and visit. There are a few times when the Boy Scouts take this park over for council events. A great time for the family to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
We stayed here for the easy access to the water for the Scouts to get out in canoes and fishing. I have been camping here off and on for the last 25 years. I have not had any issues at all. I have stayed in a regular tent campgounds and the youth group campsites. I often head here for a few days in the Spring and Summer for a day of fishing as well. My son and I like to get the canoes and Kayaks out and paddle around the lake. The fish cleaning stations are well maintained and the location is not too far away from town.
We stayed on the primative group side of the lake. There is a small pond that we were able to let some of our scouts get started in kayaks and canoes before getting into the main lake. Great fishing and walking paths. Iowa has done a great job fixing up this area. The cabins are small but clean.
Little Bear Campground is located right off I-80 at the West Liberty exit. It is right next to a trailer park. There are a few tent sites ($22/ night)and Rv sites($33/night). We pulled in late to stay the night. It had full hook ups with a fire ring and picnic table. The spot was good sized and clean. There is an office/ gift shop and a convent store within walking distance. There is 2 cute little cabins which run $49 a night. There is a pool(closed for season), and a playground for kids. I was surprised that the interstate noise was much quieter than I thought it would be. All and all it was a pleasant place to stop over.
This was a great spot for our overnight stay while traveling I-80. Its about 6 easy miles off the interstate, and well marked. The lower camp zone looks like it floods easily and was pretty muddy, so we opted for a nice level spot in the upper section. 50 amp plug in, fire rings, picnic tables, great park for our 3 year old. Our review would be 5 stars, but all the restrooms were locked for the season, and the only signage was on the doors of the facilities. No signage about the closures at the self registration. We probably should have checked the restrooms prior to setting up. Still, a very nice place and we would definitely visit again.
This is my favorite place to go hiking, kayaking, camping and fishing.
There is a half mile portage with a campsite on the river which you must call to reserve. The other campsites are $10.00 registration. They have porta potties around. Two places to launch kayaks. Most campsites have fire rings, picnic tables and trash bins. Some have grills. They also have firewood for sale or you can find enough wood around still. I didn’t see any water hookups so bring a filter or water. There is a Kum & Go up the road to get missing supplies.
The only downside of camping is you hear the interstate traffic but it’s minimal. The quiet hours are at 10:30pm and they have a gate which is closed at sunset when the park closes for non campers.
Lots of hiking trails and wildlife. The fishing is the best place for largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish. No swimming is allowed and only electric motors, no gas.
Check out their Facebook page for more updates and if you see me out there say hi!
Stayed at modern campground. Very quiet midweek in October which was great because there would be no privacy between the small sites. Nice walking access to nice beach to dam trail. We appreciated the small playground near the north campground. Showers are meh, but overall value is great at $11 per night. It would be an annoyingly long drive to primitive campground.
Our kids had more fun at this campground than any other so far. They have the most amazing playgrounds (yes, two of them!) That we've ever seen. There were activities for kids of all ages, and they used a rubber composite on the ground at the playground so when kiddos fall, they aren't injured. There is also a beautiful walking/biking trail and canoe rentals.
The sites were extremely level and clean, electric and water hookups. The camp host was very friendly and had plenty of firewood and ice in stock.
This is a great location right in the Amana Colonies to explore the area. There are sites for tents up to big rigs. They have showers and laundry and the folks are very nice. There are some trees scattered throughout the campground but mostly wide open. Services work well and wifi is strong. Only minus is that most roads are gravel and if it rains alot, there are puddles everywhere and it is pretty soft coming in and out of sites.