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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.

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Recent Reviews in Iowa
Small and close together

This would be a good stopover campground if you were on your way somewhere else. It’s clean and well cared for, but the sites are very close together and there’s very little privacy. There are a lot of RVs. It’s right next to the runoff from the dam, so the water is very rough. Lots of people fishing.

Backpacking the paint creek loop

Been coming to yellow river for years but have always wanted to go backpacking. Finally, convinced one of my friends to come with, we ended up getting scared around midnight from the noises. Took our hammocks down and ran all the way back 😂 still a fun time beautiful hike and nice area to set up camp, also had service!

Nice stopover campground

This was a very handy spot for an overnight while driving cross-country on I-80. We didn’t have a reservation but found that there were several. We highly recommend W-38, where we set up our tent. It was a gravel pull-in that could have handled a small trailer. It was the most secluded site in the campground, facing right out onto a leafy forest and an easy walk down to the water where there are fairly clean restrooms with free showers, and a playground. The place seems to be very popular with the RV crowd. It was pretty quiet, especially after the person blaring their radio got the message that it was after 10 pm quiet time. Check in was very easy on We got our site for $10, thanks to our Golden Eagle Pass, or whatever they’re calling it these days. Well worth the price.

Quiet, secluded

Gravel parking spots, fairly level, most without shade unless you get on the "back loop" where you can find 4 with good shade. All manner of amenities (electric only, water & electric, and a few with full hookups). Bathrooms are clean and well stocked. 4 private showers available…clean. Weekends are typically busier than weekdays.

Quiet and Clean

We lucked out and got a last min campsite for 4th of July weekend. Because we didn't plan ahead well we had to take site # 31 which was actually only available because it was canceled that morning. Even though we didn't have a choice it was still a great spot. It was pretty quiet while we were there, a few kids riding bikes but for the most part it was an older population. We could see multiple fire works shows if we walked around the campground with the neighbors across the street putting on a pretty great "amateur" show. 

Our cell phone provider is Sprint and we had zero service. The campground is close to Muscatine if you need to make a run but far enough out to feel like you're really camping. 

The bath houses were very hot and muggy but they were also very clean. We had a water hook up by us but did not realize that we couldn't use it. Got scolded by the Park Ranger and told it was a no no. 

Over all a great stay and I'm positive we will be back.

First to Review
Small town camping

It a boat launch with a couple campsites. They do have power. Open space. Great to get a nights rest. Shower and restrooms worked well.

Very clean

Nice friendly people. Clean sites. On the edge of Mississippi. We called for last minute reservations on 4th of July weekend, and they were able to accommodate us. Very much appreciated!

Came across bychance

A little off the beaten path, but a nice place. Pulled in after a fiasco at another campground, was able to get 2 sites over the Fourth of July weekend. Very kid friendly. The camp host was a really nice guy and helped us find a great spot. Walking distance to fishing and a boat launch, great views and a friendly bunch of people.

Cute county park

Nice little county park just east of Des Moines with fairly easy access to I-80. Several other campers in the tent area, but very courteous and quiet. And no music! We arrived late and found a spot. LOTS of bugs and very loud peepers at dusk in the frog pond near the entrance, but they quieted down, and our bug screens worked like a charm (we sleep in our Outback on quick turnaround nights). In the morning light we did notice that we were right next to the “sewage lagoon” by the RV dump spot. We were upwind , so it wasn’t too bad. Would recommend avoiding sites 18 and 19. Overall a nice place for a quick overnight. Clean and well groomed.

Clean and peaceful .

I enjoyed the campground host.very helpful. The campsites were clean and well maintained. Will be coming back soon