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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Once there was a time where almost every weekend from spring to fall I would camp here with my family. Scott County Park has been the standard from which I judge all other campgrounds.
When you come into the park you check in at the entry station. The people there always friendly and knowledgeable. This is also where you can purchase firewood if you want to.
For tent camping, I preferred Wilderness over Incahaias mainly because Wilderness feels much more private, as some of the individual sights towards the back are surrounded by bushes/trees. Wilderness is primitive and Incahaias has electric hookups.
By far though I spent most of my youth at the Pine Grove campsite. Electric service is 30 Amp and there is a dump station and potable water up front. My father had a 28' travel trailer and he never had a problem backing it into whatever spot we had. We played a lot on the playground there and rode our bikes wherever.
There is a trail head on the west of the campsite that we would always take to hike to Walnut Grove Pioneer Village.
Pioneer village if you've never been was the absolute bees knees as a kid to go to, especially since you can hike to get there! I loved climbing around in the train cars, eating icecream/candy canes, and watching the blacksmith work. Sometimes they'll have shootouts in the street which was always a blast pun intended! :) I would say kids older than maybe 10 might think the experience is kind of lame though.
Scott County Park also has a public pool as well. The last time i swam here i do not believe the pool was heated but now it is! They also did not have the big water slides.
The picnic shelters at Scott County Park are also great. I've been to them many times over the years for graduations, family reunions, birthday's etc.
I cannot speak about the golf course or the Bald Eagle site (For dedicated RV and travel trailer users) as I have never been to either, but both places seem fairly busy and Bald Eagle is open year round!
I haven't been here in a few years but I'll be back soon enough!
Our family has been camping at Lake Darling for the past couple of years. We very much like the campground and the lake area. Opportunities for improvement would be that the full hookup sites have the neighbors waste tube close the campers picnic table. Sometimes getting a whiff of black water waste while trying eat dinner leaves a little to be desired. Eh? If a person camps in the regular electric only sites this is not a problem. However, this requires ( for most campers) the use of the shower house. The bathroom facilities are clean and well kept but the showers could use some updating and better cleaning maintenance. The lake area offers great fishing and there are boat rentals available. Paddle boats, canoes, and other options. There is a long concrete multi use path along the lake and into the cabin area. The cabins seem nice, though we have never been in them or stayed in them. Book early they are usually booked up I am told. All in all a great weekend get away place. And generally limited cell signal might be better that way eh?
Recent upgrades to campground include some full hookup sites and new shower house. Once blacktop roads inside campground are now "Hardpack" with small loose gravel covering the roadways. The trail system around the lake is in pretty good shape and makes for some great mountain biking. The lake itself has been drained for about 3 years now and shows no signs of being filled again. Though they say it will be. 2020 will be the first year for camping in the newly remodeled campground. So we shall see eh?
I grew up miles away. This is where we spent time on the beach, fishing, rentals and camping! It's definitely changed in 20 years. Last summer visit (10 yrs ago) it was ran over with loud radios and flashing lights. I haven't been back since for camping. But will never forget the good times had there!
Definitely a great camping place. Historical site. And a great place to rent out!