For nearly 70 years, Body Glove has produced innovative apparel and gear for water lovers — and it all started in the Midwest with two brothers from Missouri. While their focus is now on the sandy shores of the Pacific and Atlantic, they’re pretty stoked about Midwest campgrounds near water. Their new portable iSUP deflates, so you can enjoy a tour on the lake, no matter how you get there.
Are you a water enthusiast in a landlocked state? Have no fear, plenty of water is near. Throughout the U.S., lakes, rivers, and reservoirs abound. There’s even a sandy beach in Nebraska. These 7 Midwest campgrounds will have you packing up the floaties and a few six-packs to enjoy a weekend on the water.
Midwest Campgrounds for Water Lovers
Just because you’re not on the ocean doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some waterside activities in the Midwest. These 7 midwest campgrounds offer all kinds of water activities.
1. Cedar Pass – Badlands National Park, SD
Badlands National Park, primarily known for its rugged rock spires and formations, is also home to rivers and lakes for water enthusiasts. There are 18 lakes in the Black Hills for SUP, water skiing, boating, sailing, canoeing, and more.
Small rapids flow through Rapid Creek for beginner and intermediate kayakers and canoeists to test out their skills. The nearby Cedar Pass Campground receives 4.5 out of 5 stars from 28 reviewers. Many see the lack of privacy as the major downside of this campground: there are few trees and 96 sites.
According to The Dyrt Ranger Lynn G., “This campground is almost surreal. It is completely open so you can see the amazing classic Badlands formations from your tent.”Camp here
2. Lake Sakakawea State Park, ND
Boaters, anglers, SUPers, kayakers, hikers, and campers come from the four corners of North Dakota to enjoy this reservoir on the Missouri River known as Lake Sakakawea. 180 miles in length, roughly 17 other campgrounds (most of which aren’t reviewed, so if you’re vying for your Pioneer Badge, head to North Dakota!) are established along the 1,530 miles of shoreline.
Online reservations are available, and for those wanting a more rustic experience, two camping cabins are available for rent. There are plenty of trails in the area for a break from water sports, and a full service marina can also be found onsite.
“[Lake Sakakawea] has something for everyone,” says The Dyrt user Jessica S., “A boat marina, a swimming beach, tent-only sites, primitive grounds, water and electrical sites, hiking trails, playgrounds, clean show facilities and flushing toilets!”Camp here
3. Martin Bay – Lake McConaughy, NE
Camping on the beach in Nebraska? You bet! Situated along the shores of Lake McConaughy, campers can take full advantage of the waterfront (as long as they have a 4WD vehicle) at Martin Bay. Access the shoreline from different points along the road. This site in particular sits near Little Thunder Campground. If you plan to camp on the beach, bring a sleeping pad, as sand isn’t as soft as you’d believe it to be.
Lake McConaughy is Nebraska’s largest reservoir and home to an Interpretive Center, Aquarium, and the Kingsley Dam. Because of this, the area draws water enthusiasts from across the state to enjoy the nearly 35,700 acres. During peak season site prices range from $13.00-$35.00 and reservations can be made online ahead of time.
“Visibility here for star gazing is supreme,” says The Dyrt Ranger Daniel B., “Great place for regular beach stuff. I also saw a lot of water sports being enjoyed, from paddle boarding to water skiing…Well done Nebraska.”Camp here
4. Pomona State Park, KS
Looking to float all day with your friends? Or maybe you want to see how far you can make it on your iSUP? Pomona State Park offers enough wide open water space to take out a kayak, or sit along the lakeshore. Pomona’s convenient location just 30 miles south of Topeka, make it popular during the summer and late into the fall.
Wildlife abounds at this Kansas State Park, and if you’re lucky you might be able to wrangle a white bass in between inner tube runs. The sites along the water are the best home base for a weekend on the water with friends.
“Every time you come,” says reviewer Joshua M., “you’re greeted at the gate by exceptionally friendly staff. Once in, all sites are clean and well taken care of.”Camp here
5. Tettegouche State Park, MN
Minnesotan’s love to camp (ask our founders). You won’t be hard pressed to find a campground near water in the land of 10,000 lakes. Despite plummeting winter temperatures, Tettegouche State Park stays open year-round for the true sufferers among us. Not only does Tettegouche offer an abundance of water sports, there are also hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, rocks for climbing, and birds for watching.
Tettegouche State Park offers sites for every type of camping: 28 drive-in, 22 electric, 5 primitive, 6 walk-in, 2 group, 2 cabins, and 5 kayak sites along Lake Superior. Reservations can be made online, and they’re recommended. Weekends during the summer are Tettegouche’s most popular.
“Beautiful scenery, Lake Superior on one side and the Tettegouch River runs between the two campgrounds. So much to do there! Swimming, fishing, hiking, photography, the list goes on!” — The Dyrt user Mindy S.Camp here
6. Honey Creek State Park, IA
Located in Southeastern Iowa, campers can enjoy the large swath of land that makes up the Rathburn Lake Recreation Complex. The complex, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, welcomes all types of recreation from angling to motor boating to mountain biking. When the wind is quiet across the plains, SUPers and Kayakers take to the lakes glossy waters.
There are full hook-up, electric-only, and tent sites available to reserve, and roughly a quarter are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Like most campgrounds near water, Honey Creek Campground fills up early, so take a half day on Friday to claim your site.
The Dyrt Ranger Matt S. says, “Honey Creek State Park is on Rathbun Lake, a very popular place to boat, fish, and camp in Southern Iowa…the weather was great, and the bugs weren’t that bad. I would recommend Honey Creek State Park.”Camp here
7. Lake of the Ozarks State Park, MO
One of Missouri’s premier camping destinations, a week spent at Lake of the Ozarks State Park means time for fishing along the shore or from the back of a motorized boat. It means a walk through a canopy of forest to a bluff overlooking the lake and surrounding area. It means teaching your kids to swim in one of the two established areas, or catching the sunrise over the lake from your iSUP.
There are plenty of sites in the four loops, but reservations are recommended. Throughout the summer you must stay two nights for a reservable site. If you’re looking to pitch the tent for a single night and move on, cross your fingers for a first-come, first serve site.
“We stayed down near the lake, where the views are amazing” says The Dyrt reviewer Ryan A., “Potable water was close by as well. Lots of hiking trails and MTB trails.”Camp here
Save this list of midwest campgrounds and embark on an epic road trip this summer
- Cedar Ridge Campground, Bona, MO
- Lake Rathbun Camping, Walnut City, IA
- Muskegon Campgrounds, Muskegon, MI