10 Best Campsites in Iowa

Located in between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, Iowa is famous for its farmlands and rolling hills. There are several lakes and forests to explore here, making it a great destination to enjoy the outdoor experience.

Iowa is blessed with so many unique landscapes and opportunities for adventures, and it is not surprising that the state attracts lots of nature enthusiasts. The camping locations cater to every type of camper and offer a broad range of amenities to suit your budget perfectly.

Iowa has over 80 recreation areas and state parks scattered around the state. You will find RV parks, tents, primitive-style camps, and everything in between. It can be overwhelming when trying to select which you should visit. Here, we analyze the best camping locations in the state.

1. Pikes Peak State Park

© WeAreIowa

Located just outside the beautiful town of MacGregor, Iowa, the Pikes Peak State Park is perhaps the most frequented in the state. A major attraction to this location is a 500 feet cliff with a fantastic viewpoint over the Mississippi River. The cliff gives you a perfect view of the point where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers meet. This park isn’t all about scenery and viewpoints—the camping experience here is superb and holds something for every camper category.

Campers can find all kinds of facilities at Pikes Peak. Modern and primitive campsites are part of the appeal that the campground brings. The campsites are equipped with full hookups and can be reserved ahead of your arrival. Some amenities at the park include a recently built toilet and shower block, a sanitary dump station, picnic shelter, and a playground where the kids can run around.

© Upper Iowa River

The scenery is abundant at the campsite, making up for the lack of activities. However, if your fort is hiking, the trails passing through shades and forested areas combine for a total of 11 miles. Ideal for campers looking to get in touch with nature, the campground is quiet and provides an excellent opportunity to take in the surrounding nature and abundant wildlife.

2. Cherry Glen Campground

© Hitched Up Dream

Built and managed by the Corps of Engineers, the Saylorville Lake area is an excellent example of a natural paradise. Occupying a large chunk of the Des Moines River Valley, the park provides several avenues for campers to get a slice of the outdoors. All types of water sports are available on the clear lake. Some of the activities include swimming, boating, and fishing.

© Buffy Graham

Saylorville Lake

 There are a few campgrounds around Saylorville Lake, but the best spot is Cherry Glen Campground. Adequate for family camping, the campground has over a hundred sites designed for families. Some of the amenities you can enjoy at this campground include a full electric hookup, a visitor center, showers, and flush toilets. The sites are well managed and always clean. The camp’s location in a wooded area offers visitors access to lots of the best things nature has to offer.

A multi-use trail can be found around the area. Hikers, mountain bikers, and inline skaters can take advantage of this 24mile long trail to get some air into their lungs. Also, fishes like catfish, wiper, and largemouth bass are in abundance in the waters surrounding the campground.

3. Howell Station Campground

 

© Green Goddess Glamping

Iowa’s largest lake is the impressive Lake Red Rock, which commands over 15,000 acres of water. A 35,000-acre area of land surrounding the lake, including the area is known as the Lake Red Rock Area, is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers.  Nature enthusiasts frequently visit the area to take insight and the sounds of Iowa.

Nestled underneath the Red Rock dam is Howell Station Campground. The campground’s proximity to the riverbank, and hardwood forests, makes it an ideal spot to savor the beauty of nature. Wildlife in its various forms can be spotted around the area. White-tailed deer, eagles, and other smaller creatures are not challenging to find.

© Green Goddess Glamping

The campground provides potable water, pit, and flush toilets, along with showers. Campsites at this location are larger than normal and have full electrical hookups. Many visitors come to the Howell Station campground for the opportunity to fish. Kayaking and canoe riding are also favorite activities at the campground, as there are water trails that give you the best view of the shoreline. Hikers can use the trails that encompass the campground as well.

4. Maquoketa Caves State Park

© Trail Mob

Iowa’s largest lake is the impressive Lake Red Rock, which commands over 15,000 acres of water. A 35,000-acre area of land surrounding the lake, including the area is known as the Lake Red Rock Area, is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers.  Nature enthusiasts frequently visit the area to take insight and the sounds of Iowa.

© Iowa Outdoors / Youtube

Nestled underneath the Red Rock dam is Howell Station Campground. The campground’s proximity to the riverbank, and hardwood forests, makes it an ideal spot to savor the beauty of nature. Wildlife in its various forms can be spotted around the area. White-tailed deer, eagles, and other smaller creatures are not challenging to find.

The campground provides potable water, pit, and flush toilets, along with showers. Campsites at this location are larger than normal and have full electrical hookups. Many visitors come to the Howell Station campground for the opportunity to fish. Kayaking and canoe riding are also favorite activities at the campground, as there are water trails that give you the best view of the shoreline. Hikers can use the trails that encompass the campground as well.

5. Lake MacBride State Park

© Zak Neumann / Little Village

Over 2000 acres of wetlands, prairies, woodlands, and water, combine to make Lake MacBride State Park the largest state park in Iowa. 

There are two campgrounds at the state-owned park. One of the campgrounds occupies the northern section of the park, while the other sits on the southern section. The southern campground is more suited to primitive campers and has very few amenities—there are pit and flush toilets on the tent sites. The northern campground is the stark opposite of the primitive-style campground. Restrooms, showers, and picnic areas are available here. Electric hookup is also available at the campsites.

© Tony Webster / Flickr

Activities that you can enjoy at the Lake Macbride State Park include hiking, biking, and water sports. Boats are available for rentals, and many visitors come for the fishing experience. Trails for biking and hiking are in no short supply at the campground.

6. Lacey Keosauqua State Park

© Lacy Lake / Flickr

Considered among the oldest parks in Iowa, the Lacey Keosauqua State Park features lots of history and scenery. The 1600 acre large park is well-known among campers and hikers. Valleys and oak trees form a minor part of the park’s theme. Apart from the rich scenery and plentiful outdoor activities, the park reverberates with historical significance.

A section of the park holds some burial mounds that can be traced back to Native Americans. While you are here, it’s important to treat these hill-like structures with the utmost respect. The campground itself is elegant, and the sites have shades over them. You could go to sites with or without electric hookups. There are decent bathrooms on the campground.

RoverPass

The 13 miles of trails available at the park meander through valleys and forms a loop around the river. Some historic structures constructed during the era of the great depression are present on the trail’s route. Red foxes, raccoons, and deer reside here in their numbers, making it a perfect spot for wildlife lovers.

7. Ledges State Park

© McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0

If you are visiting Iowa for the first time, you will probably hear about Ledges State Park. Commissioned in 1924, the state-owned park has continuously drawn visitors from within and outside the state, looking for a unique outdoor experience.

Whether you love the primitive style of camping or the more modern way, Ledges State Park offers the best of both worlds. The primitive campsites provide the experience of the state. Some amenities at the campground include stylish showers and restrooms. With all the campsites recently renovated, you are sure to have a swell time. The main campground hosts the majority of the campsites. There is the option of camping in a private and quiet spot. 

Some sites have full hookup features, while others do not. Every campsite at the location has a grill, picnic table, and fire ring. Potable water and a sanitary dump station are also available on the campground. 

© Traveliowa

Des Moines River is just a stone throw away from the state park, and visitors troop in yearly to see the canyons and bluffs in the area. Hiking and fishing are the activities that can be enjoyed the most at this park. There is a 4-mile trail available for hikers, which takes them through some of the most beautiful scenery around the campground and gives great views of the canyons. Canoes and kayaks are also available around the Des Moines River if you are seeking to find some fish.

8. On-Ur-Wa RV Park

© Good Sam

Located in Owa, Iowa, the On-Ur-Wa Recreational Vehicle Park is the state’s foremost RV park. The park is affiliated with Good Sam Club and has some of the best modern facilities around.

While the park rates are pocket-friendly, you get full value for every dime spent and even more. All campsites at the park are provided with full electric hookups, free Wi-Fi, and have access to the laundry and shower amenities. Other perks include a recreational area, where you could play soccer or bocce ball.

© Cosbyite / TripAdvisor

The On-Ur-Way RV Park is the perfect getaway for families seeking adventures and the ultimate RV experience. There are many opportunities to explore the area surrounding the park, as you will find golf courses, theatres, and museums littered all over the town. Many visitors compliment the friendly owners for their show of hospitality and the campground’s general clean nature.

9. MacNider Campgrounds

© Jake Kruckenberg / YouTube

Situated in the small town of Mason City, Iowa, the MacNider Campgrounds is a fascinating destination for campers. With so many interesting places to visit in the town, the campground is a perfect place to lodge while exploring the wonders of Iowa. The campground is located right in the heart of the town and shares the same street as the Mason Family Aquatic Area. It is also just a stone’s throw away from downtown.

MacNider Campgrounds offer quality camping services without requiring you to break the bank. The location is ideal for those on a budget. But if you have some cash to throw around, who doesn’t like a good deal?

© The Roadrunner Chronicles

Basic sites with electricity and water come for as low as $17 per night. Alternatively, you can get full hookup services for $26. At that price, you get entry to the camp store, restrooms, and showers. Picnic tables and fire rings are provided at the campground. The friendly nature of the park and the hospitality in the town attract lots of visitors throughout the year.

10. Amana Colonies Park

© Passport America

Amana Colonies Park is situated in an ideal spot for individuals looking to enjoy some history. You’ll find the park in the middle of Iowa’s Amana Colonies- a historic landmark in the country! This campground is ideal for events like family reunions.

Free access to Wi-Fi services, along with hot showers, a Laundromat, and decent restrooms, are some of the amenities you can expect to get at the Recreational Vehicle Park. The park’s location is central to its appeal, as you can easily visit the best restaurants, shops, and museums in the state without driving too far away from the park.  The campground is quite affordable and even offers great discounts.

© Amana Colonies

Although the campground has very few shaded areas, the serene environment and friendly staff make up for that. What’s more? The campground’s cleanliness and peaceful ambiance give you the feeling that you are at home.

Conclusion

The rolling hills of Iowa and its many valleys can take a lifetime to fully explore. The friendliness of the state and hospitality you would receive at the several campgrounds is unrivaled. 

Fishing is a favorite pastime of visitors camping in Iowa’s great parks, and whenever you visit, you’ll find out why it is such a big hit. The state’s many historical landmarks will also interest you. Now you are armed with the best camping destinations in the state; whenever you are ready to visit, you know where to go.

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