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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.
Love this place. Band on the weekends, playground, full level hookups on gravel, free wifi and on the river
Been coming to this place on and off for years. They have several hiking trails of different skills inside the preserve. There is a couple look out points of the Loess Hills as well as a educational visitors center. There is a rv camping site, as well as cabins that can be rented. There also 2 types of tenting as well. There is the walk up sites near the cabins, and also a few hike in camp sites.
but it is right off the highway, with exit sprawl left and right. when i called the gal said $34 a night for an rv site. that’s high for a place this charmless and road-noisy. so i bought a yogurt smoothie across the street and kept driving.
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.
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.
This is a County run Park, that has a limited number of sites. The location is very nice, most sites are full sun. And the grounds are located on top,of a hill. Easy drive in, all paved. A lot of hiking trails, for day hikes. Really nice location but site availability is always the question. Would recommend.
This is one of our favorite places to camp. It's beautiful and there's plenty of hiking. The campgrounds are a little way away from the road and more secluded so they're very quiet. You do have to pack your stuff down a bit of a steep hill. with the nature Center there is plenty for the kids to do. There's even a 1 mile hike on a boardwalk that's very easy. There's all levels of hikes. They have a hawkwatch tower. Lots of information about Hawks and nature conservation. We love doing their extra classes.