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I stayed here on a long road trip across the country. Had no idea such a scenic place could be found in Iowa! I chose the closest walk-in spot, less than a mile in. It was great! Near a little creek if you need water, and really nicely secluded. Picnic table and fire ring included. Also, there’s a trail up a hill right near by that had great views of the area and a lovely sunset! I would definitely recommend. Just a head’s up: I saw some pics of people car camping here on this site. Not sure how that would work since it’s supposed to be walk-in only and pretty clearly roped off from access with a car.
Ponca State Park is beautiful. The drive from Omaha was so quick and easy. The park is beautiful with tons of trails and things to explore. The overlooks are great, you can see so much of the river. Bathroom areas are well kept and so are the grounds. The campsites are well spread out and we found the perfect spot away from other sites and with great shade. Dog friendly was a huge perk. We definitely will return!
We have stayed here multiple times, always accommodating, always clean. The sites closer to the river tend to be quieter. This is a city-run park and offers plenty to do. Sites are not crammed together and the staff is always helpful. Would highly recommend.
This park is definitely a must see for all types of campers. They have everything for all types of campers. There is a visitors center that has a little bit of the history of the area as well as education of the Missouri river. There is different types of cabins, (or look more like houses). There is a little fishing pond by the visitors center, as well as a swimming pool. There are paved roads through out the park with a few designated rv campsites. As well as tent camping scattered throughout the park, and camping off the Missouri river. There are several hiking trails, horseback riding, archery, 2 lookout points, and even a golf course. This is a place that anybody can find a outdoor activity to do.
Sept 10-15, 2019 Site 2 had electric and water (shared spicket). We enjoyed this park. We could have saved money if we had purchased the State Park Pass. We paid $40.88, Park had dump station, pay showers ($1 for 6 minutes), and flush toilets. Restrooms were very clean. Elevation 1,320 ft. Verizon 4G 2 bars. See RV Camping Journal for details.
No real complaints. Clean campground, friendly hosts. Prefer more nature, but not a bad stop on a long drive. Right on river, but huge park with lots of campers, and tucked in between soccer fields. Safe and convenient though, and had a camp fire. Wifi not very good, but electric and water hookups were fine.
Continuing our tour of the best Backpacking parks in our great state of Iowa, my comrade and I spent 2 nights at Preparation Canyon State Park. Located directly adjacent to the Preparation Canyon Unit of Loess Hills State Forest; the flora, fauna, and geology of this park are amazing and unique to North America. If you have not visited this area, put it high on your to-do list. The weekend was blistering hot at 95° F and a 9/10 UV index, but we were conditioning for a larger trip this summer, so we welcomed the challenge.
The park boasts 10 backpacking, hike-in campsites. However, you will find maps and literature that reference only 8, for seemingly good reason. Sites 9 and 10 (apparently more recent additions) are the most remote in the park and might tempt those seeking that added level of solitude. We examined both of them and they were both found to be overgrown and the nearby creek tributary was mostly dry. Instead, we spent both of our nights at Site 3, which seems to be the crown jewel. It is a small trek up a hillside and looks out across the general area, with a phenomenal star gazing opportunity. The creek just to the North was still flowing and provided our water source. You will not regret staying here. The other sites are mostly in the woods and line said creek. I'm certain they would be great as well.
A quick drive from the park lands you at the State Forest Lookout, which is partnered with a short 0.91 mile loop trail that is picturesque. Around the "back," (Northwest side) of the park there are shelters, picnic areas, and overlooks. You cannot park at these locations while camping in the park.
The immediate surrounding towns provide very little in the way of amenities, so plan ahead. The cultural history of the park is intriguing, as it was the site of a 19th century Mormon town (from which the park gets its name). The town however is completely gone, there are no abandoned historical structures to explore.
You won't miss them. Hike through the hilled prairie trail which is the first right as you enter from the Eastside Boundary, and you'll know why you came.
In summary, this park is the quintessential example of the diversity that Iowa has to offer, and rivals Yellow River for it's backpacking. It's proximity to the larger State Forest means you could spend weeks exploring if so inclined.