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I’m a bit biased on this one as Arnold Wulf is my great-grandfather, but I do have a lot of fond memories from this park.
Near Lost Nation, Oxford Junction, and Wyoming, IA this park is an unexpected find in rural, eastern Iowa. The camping areas have expanded. Plenty of hook-ups for RVs and such, but there are also some backcountry, hike-in sites off of the main trail. Most of the available camping is right off the road that goes through Eden Valley County Refuge, so that’s not the most ideal.
The swinging bridge and observation tower are the main structural attractions, but there are also several caves scattered about. Overall, very enjoyable and there aren’t a lot of places like this nearby. Worth a stop if you’re in the area.
It's a little hike in for the dispersed sites, but worth it to be in a secluded woodsy site. Was peaceful and relaxing. There is water and and an outdoor shower at the regular campsite across from where you park. There are pit toilets near the dispersed sites. Fire pit and picnic table at each site. Site 1 has more sun during the day and site 2 is right on a trail head connected to site 1. Easy enough trail to pull a wagon if needed.
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.
We love doing some backpacking and finding the most secluded sites we can. Well we found a pretty good one that is relatively close to our home and is rarely reserved. Its only 1 hour North of the Quad Cities where I live & open year round!
These sites must be reserved online and are $13 a night. Firewood is available for purchase at the main campground from the campground host.
To get to both the pack in sites you have to hike a 1/2 mile. You need to bring all of your supplies including water. (Showers & modern facilities are 1/2 mile back at the main campground)
The first approx 1/4 mile is up a slight continuous incline, when you get to the Y intersection you take a right & follow approx another 1/4 mile with a slight continuous downward slope.
You will then come to another Y intersection , to the left is a medow leading to Bear Creek & The Swinging bridge. To the right is a small open groomed grass area with an outhouse. Continue on the path about another 100 ft and you will see the two sites.
We like to stay at the Pack in site #1 due to the differece in the levelness of the sites. Site #1 is pretty level all around & is decently sized.
Site #2 has a short level area with an incline through the rest of the site, but this site is big. Due to this incline I believe you would not want to stay on this site during a storm. You're either going to be at a constant incline on the hill or have the water rushing down the hill at your tent.
There are plenty of surrounding trees to creat awnings or hang a hammock.
If you bring a base camp filtration system the creek is not s very far walk to retrieve water.
There are about 5 trails to explore nearby. On the main trail to get to the pack in sites there are a few very small caverns you can visit that are accessible by stairs right off the trail.
At night you can hike about a 1/2 mile to the Watchtower and watch the beautiful sun set over the horizon of treetops and if you stay long enough you can stargaze.
It is always a beautiful and peaceful time we have at Eden Valley.
At night the Nature drowns out any noise from the highway. You can heat coyotes & other animals rustling through the woods.
It is absolutely pictch black. PERFECT for stargazing on a clear night.
One of my favorite places to escape to for a weekend and forget about all the stress of daily life.
Wildcat Den State Park is somewhat of an unknown gem. Surrounded by cornfields, rolling hills and the Mississippi River, this park is tucked neatly away in Southeast Iowa. We've been here in all four seasons and each one provides a different landscape.
The park offers non-electrical campsites with pit toilets located in the campground area. A portion of the sites are available on a first come first serve basis. The remaining sites have to be reserved. Each campsite has a fire pit and picnic table. There is well water available. There is also a large shelter across the road from the campground area. The bottom portion of the park, where the Pine Creek Grist Mill is located has modern restroom facilities as well as another shelter.
Hiking the Wildcat Den Trail Loop is a must. Looming sandstone cliffs, tall pines, and rock formations are all part of the park's landscape. This is also a great place to view spring wildflowers. There's several spots of interest you'll want to be sure to take in while there, including the Devil's Punch Bowl, Steamboat Rock, The Pine Creek Grist Mill built in the 1800's, the Melpine School, and most recently, a renovated log cabin. The Mill offers tours during the warmer months and it's worth the time to take the tour.
While the trails at the Den are very scenic, they're not well-marked. This is perhaps the only downside of the park. The park is dog-friendly, but they must be on leash at all times.
This is one of my favorite "hidden" parks in Iowa.