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.
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.
We made a reservation for a nice summer weekend but when we arrived someone was in our site. Luckily there was one more site available where the ranger asked us to stay instead since the other group was set up already. People were listening to loud music and chopping down green trees to burn. Overall sites are nice and park is pretty. Just not sure if we will go back - at least not on a busy weekend.
Hitchcock Nature Center is north of Crescent, IA and just let outside Omaha, NE. A short drive from the city and you are in the Loess Hills that were explored by Lewis and Clark on their trek west. The is a $3 day use pass or a $20 yearly pass available.
This place has a lot to offer anyone. They have Nature education events, archery range, a handicapped accessible boardwalk trail, hiking trails, camping, etc. There are miles of trail available with backcountry camping available for $10 per night. RV camping is also available for $15 per night with electric, showers/bathrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, etc. They also offer a couple cabins for rent.
The hiking is fantastic and offers something for every skill level. There are absolutely gorgeous views of the Missouri River valley below. All trails are marked and the a multiple different trailheads, many which start around the visitors center/tower Overlook. During the winter they even over snowshoeing events. It is really a nice place to get outdoors anytime of the year.
Caveat: you cannot see the lake from the camping spots
Camped site 26
Wooded county campground. Many of the spots at the West campground are paved. They all have electric. A few have other amenities. Water and dump site in the park (dump at east campground), but not at most spots. Spots vary in length and width. Decent playground. They had some bags and horseshoe courts near the entrance.
Very friendly help at the office. Clean sites. Pretty tight quarters. When making reservations we were told it had a pool. They did not tell us it closed for the year the day we started or weeks stay. Might have made a difference if we knew. Plenty to do here. Right next to the casino and horse race track and also next to adventure land amusement park.
I would suggest getting reservations. We stopped on a Friday with out one, they were booked. We only wanted one night in a tent. They don’t have designated tent sites but they have one overflow sight and they let us use it for the night. Price is great, $20 per night. Easy to get rvs into the spots and a lot to do for the kids.
This place has a lot to offer and the hosts are great. Our favorite time is in the Fall.
No hook ups. Gorgeous setting, several spots are not level, small size. Good distance from others, yet close enough for group. Near everything in the beautiful black hills. Several areas. Clean, comfortable restrooms. Store at entrance to park. Boat rentals available, slip rental available.
Very friendly people working there! A group of us had a loop and had a great weekend! The only down side of this was the grass was really long so it was bad when taking the dog out in the evenings or mornings. You would come back in with a soaked dog and wet feet. It really needed to be mowed.
The facilities were clean. A huge playground area for the kids! It’s huge and well maintained.
We have used this camp many times and the long grass is my only complaint!
Very RV friendly, I was the only tent camper I saw the weekend I went. Stayed with friends. The pond isn’t a far walk and had plenty of small fish for the kids to catch. Dock is pretty sketchy, if even usable. Campsite was clean and quite. Pool was nice, kids loved that.