Camping in Iowa: Preparation and Must-Know About Campgrounds and State Parks

If you plan to take a break from a busy, tiring week, we have an excellent suggestion for you, and that is camping. Camping is a great way to alleviate all the stress that piles up on your shoulder. Aside from that, enjoying the beauty of nature even for a day is exceptionally a game changer to anyone suffering from stress, depression, or just work environment burnout. 

But, you can just set up your tent or park your Recreational Vehicle anywhere you want. It has to have a great itinerary to enjoy the moment to the fullest. In that case, we suggest the excellent state of Iowa. Also known as the Hawkeye state of the United States of America, this place offers a fantastic selection of camp areas and parks that you will surely enjoy staying with. You might want to come back, and we assure you that camping here is terrific.

Why go camping in the best Iowa state parks and Rv parks?

We know that every place always says that they are the best. We will let you realize that Iowa is the place to be. After [reading this article, we assure you that you will plan your next adventure at this place. 

Discover the fantastic State Park in Iowa

Iowa has over 4,500 state parks up to date, making it friendly to camping in Iowa. As busy individuals, we know it is pretty tiring to check every state park for camping to know which has excellent experience with them all. In that case, we are here to help. We will give you a list of the fantastic Iowa state parks. 

Pikes Peak State Park

Credits to: Beyond the Tent

This state park has lovely picnic places for you to enjoy. You can enjoy your favorite outdoor meal while looking at its majestic views in the northern midwest area overlooking the trail viewing platforms. 

Besides camping in Iowa, hiking and biking in this park have a great terrain suitable for this venture. There are many lakes and amenities in this state park to ensure that you won’t just have a dull camping moment.

Maquoketa Caves State Park

Credits to: Beyond the Tent

If you want a more majestic campout adventure, try out Maquoketa Caves State Park. This State Park has more caves than other state parks. Aside from that, it is a six-mile trail system that connects caves, and different scenic views in this park are something you have to be amazed by. 

It is also a child-friendly state park making it suitable for those families who want a memorable family campout. A friendly reminder during the winter season gives the park a call first if the caves are available because they give way to the bat hibernation. IN that sense, we suggest you go here before or after the hibernation season to make sure that you enjoy it to the fullest.

Cedar Rock State Park

Credits to: I. DNR

On the other hand, if you want to enjoy a more laid-back adventure, you can choose to stay at Cedar Rock State Park. It has a residence with wonderful architectural and interior designs. During your stay here, you will indeed find peace, mainly when mediated by the river and the view of the wooded valley. 

Each residence’s insides in this state park are well-lighted to ensure an excellent overall stay. The former owner of this place, Lowell Walter, makes sure that he addresses every detail of this residence to make sure that it will give maximum comfort.

Bellevue State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

If you are after archaeology, history, and the natural beauty of a place, well, Bellevue can give you all of that. On top of that, it overlooks the Mississippi river making it more wonderful. Also, for those who are very much attached to nature, it has an enclosed nature center, open butterfly sanctuary, and it also showcases the diversity of wildlife in the vicinity. 

Before marching into this beautiful place, make sure to give them a heads up first to ensure that someone will accommodate you in your stay. Also, you will never be bored with the three-mile trail system of the Nelson Unit that overlooks the Mississippi river and restored prairie. The Dyas Unit has a four-mile trail system leading to a beautiful scenic view and a stream.

Stone State Park

Credits to: Beyond the Tent

If you want a serene rustic ambiance on your next getaway, you might want to add to your travel destination this wonderful state park. Most of this state park’s structures were built during the 1930s, assuring you a walk to one of America’s most good histories. As you walk on the park’s 15-mile trail system, you will see the natural wildlife residing in the state park.

Mountain bikers are also welcome in this state park because they offer a six-mile mountain bike trail. NOt just regular tracks, but they have dirt trails suitable for those looking for an extreme adventure level. If a day is not enough for you to enjoy this park, you can always opt to stay for the night. They have three camping cabins available in the vicinity. 

The park has electric sites, youth camp areas, and modern bathrooms. Just give the park a heads up about your stay because the cabins are on a first-come, first-serve basis. They also have an excellent waste management system inside the park to ensure cleanliness for guests. 

Clear Lake State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

Are you planning out your following summer itinerary? We highly suggest going into Clear Lake State Park because many ventures scream summer! Include this in your options, and you are good to go. Furthermore, you will love the water ventures they offer, like boating, fishing, and windsurfing. Aside from that, the vast 3,000-acre lake is also good for relaxation, meditation and suitable for those who want a more laid-back summer adventure. 

Their campground is suitable for staying as they offer modern bathrooms, shower facilities, and waste and dump stations. You will also get to see the wildlife residing near the lake.

Backbone State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

If you are looking for a place that caters to it all, well, Backbone State Park can satisfy you. We include this in your options because of the variety of activities you can do here. Thi state park is the first skatepark in the state of Iowa. It is also one of the most geographically unique locations. The park’s geographic location is why it got its name, The Devil’s Backbone. Hence, shortening it to just the Backbone. 

They have a 21-mile multi-use rugged trail system where you can hike or bike. Or simply walk and enjoy the view. Whether you want an extreme adventure or just a refreshing laid back getaway, Backbone State Park can give it to you. 

They also offer Recreational Vehicle rentals. Their rentals vary from the different types of recreational vehicles. You can choose a motorhome Recreational Vehicle rental if you want to depend on your need. They also have an excellent waste management system inside the park to ensure cleanliness for guests.

Lewis and Clark State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

The trail of this state park dates back to the 1800s. Also, this state park is popular with its water ventures and other outdoor recreational ventures. For you to enjoy the wonders of Lewis and Clark State Park, we suggest visiting the place in June where they hold their annual Lewis and Clark Festival. 

Palisades-Kepler State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

Are you dreaming of getting lost in the woods? Well, it is not a dream anymore. You can enjoy the tranquility of getting lost in the woods by camping out here at Palisades-Kepler State Park. As you step into this state park, the towering trees will amaze you. The shade of its branches and leaves covers you from the bright rays of the sun, creating a majestic silhouette. Just standing there and letting the winds blow to you removes the stress piled up in you. 

Just imagining the majestic wonders of this state park is relaxing, what’s more, knowing that there are lots of ventures that you can do aside from being laid back. You can enjoy hiking in their five-mile trail, which you can see along the way wildlife inhabitants. As you journey on this trail during spring, you will get to see wildflowers blooming in the area. 

The campground is also a savvy, friendly one as it gives various basic amenities and necessities. Make sure to provide the state park a call for reservations for most of their camp areas, and cabins are on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Lake Macbride State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

This state park highlights the sounds of the native birds residing in its trees. In that sense, you will indeed find tranquility in the vicinity of the area. Imagine yourself kayaking in its majestic body of water while the wind blows that summer wind, and the birds chirp a melody especially for you.  

It has lots of amenities that the whole family can enjoy. It varies from fishing, kayaking, hiking, and many more. To know more, visit them now and enjoy it yourself. You can also check out the reviews on their website to see if it will satisfy your demands. They also have an excellent waste management system inside the park to ensure cleanliness for guests.

Pilot Knob State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

Pilot knob State Park has sweeping vistas and unique ecological areas suitable for a family getaway. Do you want to know a secret? This state park has a hidden bog known as the Deadman’s Lake. Unravel that hidden treasure and enjoy the wonders it possesses. TO ensure that you will have a great spot on their campground, make sure to call first and secure a slot. You can also check out the reviews on their website to see if they will satisfy your demands.

Lacey Keosauqua State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

As the second state park of Iowa, this state park has ample opportunities for fantastic ventures like swimming, fishing, hiking, and camping. Aside from that, the overall ambiance of the palace will give that historical vibe. It will indeed feel like you have just got out of a time machine and walked along with the 1930s. You can also check out the reviews on their website to see if they will satisfy your demands.

As you hike in their thirteen-mile trail that winds through valleys and cliffs along the Des Moines river, you will also get to hear birds chirping. These birds will accompany you on your journey on these trails. They will also tour you to the wonders of nature evident in this state park that they have preserved since the 1920s. You can also check out the reviews on their website to see if they will satisfy your demands.

Give a heads up about your stay. You can choose among the six family cabins or on the campsite. Their family cabins have some of the necessary equipment. It is for you to feel at home in your stay. They have a microwave oven, refrigerator, stove, and cookware.

Wapsipinicon State Park

Credits to: I. DNR

If you are wandering in the town of Anamosa, visiting the Wapsipinicon State Park is a must. This place is part of the National Register of Historic Places. In that sense, if you are looking for that historic ambiance, you can go ahead and call this place for a reservation. 

What is great about this place is it is open during the winter season. Furthermore, they have some winter ventures waiting for you, like snowmobiling and skiing. The wildlife present in this park will surely amaze you. 

You might also want to check out their trails, like the bowl-shaped Horse Thief Cave and Ice Cave, hiding in the rocky bluffs along the route. Did you ever wonder about the names of these beautiful sceneries? Horse Thief Cave got its name to give you a quick view of their names because a particular horse thief used this Cave to escape. Meanwhile, it is called Ice Cave because of its chilling condition inside. You can also check out the reviews on their website to see if they will satisfy your demands.

Walnut Woods State Park

Credits to: I DNR 

If you want to go for a quick break from your stressful week, you can take refuge in this state park. It is not so far from the state itself, so it is excellent for a quick little break for yourself. Just enough to recharge yourself with the tranquil powers of nature. 

The woods of the Raccoon River will surely give that tranquility you wish for. The breeze passing along in its branches will blow up the stress burdening you. Aside from that, you can also fish, camp out, hike, or birdwatch in this state park. 

The best thing about this state park is it is available all year long for all occasions. They have indoor and outdoor fireplaces shaded outdoors for a better experience.

Prairie Rose State Park

Credits to: Beyond the tent

Would you like to go fishing on your next campout? If yes, then Prairie Rose State Park is suitable for you. You can go ice fishing; you can fish until you want it no more for the rest of the seasons. You can fish for bass, bluegill, crappie, and channel catfish. 

Since this park is available all year round, their cabins are equipped with heating and air conditioning systems to support any season. Give them a call about your stay for you to secure a cabin or a campground. They follow a first-come, first-serve basis policy in accommodating guests. 

These are just some of the beautiful state parks in Iowa. There are still many more to explore, but we suggest checking out these fifteen state parks on our lists. 

Enjoy the Beauty and Endless Activities in the Campgrounds of Iowa

Every campground in all of the states is fantastic in its way. Here, we will fill you up with all of the ventures that you can do in the Campgrounds of Iowa.


Credits to: I. DNR

Camping in Iowa is available all year long. Whether you are visiting in the afternoon or will stay to camp out, Iowa has lots of amenities for you to use, depending on your stay. You’ve got nothing to worry about because Iowa camp areas have modern conveniences such as water, flush toilets, and shower buildings that are available. Also, it may be a problem during winter because of the chilly weather. Mainly, water is a problem as it tends to freeze during this time. We suggest you give the campground a heads up about your camping plans during winter to ensure you won’t have any problems in your getaway. 

Canoeing and Kayaking

Credits to: I. DNR

Since Iowa has beautiful lakes and streams, paddling is perfect in its majestic waters. Also, the water trail in Iowa connects waterways history, heritage, geology fisheries, and wildlife. It gives beautiful access to riverside camping, wild spaces, picnic areas, and water adventures. 

For those who are not professional in these water ventures, don’t worry because Iowa has courses for you to master these water ventures. Of course, you will start as a beginner or what they call “Intro,” then will upgrade to “Moving Water.” Once you are a professional already, you can now join the Iowa Water Trail Association.

Dog Training and Trailing

Credits to: I. DNR

If you are a dog person and bring your pet with you, this place is suitable for you. People who love dogs always have a problem traveling because not every site is pet-friendly. They have this in their camp areas because they want to preserve the hunting culture in their state. Rest assured that Iowa’s camp areas follow the rules and regulations for dog games, hunting, and training. They ensure that they follow the policy to ensure that the guests, dog owners, and the dogs themselves will be safe inside the campground during the training. By the way, this is for free. 


Credits to: I. DNR

Iowa holds a rustic and historic ambiance. In that sense, it is suitable to lay away from any modernity and take everything just like what old folks do. Having strolls with a mule or a horse on their majestic trails is an excellent experience in their camp areas. There are some camp areas designed for this type of camper. These camp areas are:

  • Brushy Creek State Recreation Area- Webster County
  • Elk Rock State Park – Marion County 
  • Lake of Three Fires State Park – Taylor County 
  • Nine Eagles State Park – Decatur County 
  • Shimek State Forest – Van Buren County 
  • Stephens State Forest – Lucas County 
  • Volga River State Recreation Area – Fayette County 
  • Waubonsie State Park – Fremont County 
  • Yellow River State Forest – Allamakee County

These campsites are also available for non-equestrian campers, but they need to pay an equestrian fee of $3.


Credits to: I. DNR

In this activity, you hide a container from public view then locate it via GPS and internet published coordinates. Once you find the geocache, you will take an item inside it and replace it with the one you contribute. There is a logbook inside to track who managed to find it and when they saw it. More people love this activity because it enables them to perform a mystery activity. By the way, this is for free. For more information, you can always check out the park offices.

Hiking and Biking

Credits to: I. DNR

The beautiful trails of Iowa are suitable for hiking and biking. Whether you want it as a form of exercise or just a relaxation time for yourself, each campground has its trail systems for you to enjoy this venture. People who usually hike and bike have more vital cardiac and respiratory systems. By the way, this is for free. For more information, you can always check out the park offices.

Off-Highway Vehicles

Want to go extreme? Campgrounds have their share of ATVs for you to ride on in exploring the campsites and some trails. Of course, each campsite wants to keep their riders safe, so they must register the ATV they will lend to campers. Campers who own must present a valid Iowa DNR user permit before use. More people engage in this activity because of the extreme factor it gives. Also, they offer ATV education for first-time users. The ATV education starts from beginner level up to extreme level. For more information, you can always check out the park offices.

Shooting Sports

Credits to: I. DNR

Since Iowa DNR wants to maintain the hunting culture, they offer hunting sessions using bows in some campsites. They also have some Archery lessons, shooting programs, and clay target programs to provide to campers. More people engage in this program/ activity because of the extreme factor. Rest assured that all campgrounds have safety policies in executing the education programs. This education setup is also checked and validated to ensure safety. 


Credits to: I. DNR

Like the ATVs, snowmobiles should be registered before use in any campgrounds. If not yet registered, you will need these documents to pursue registration:

  • Bill of sale/proof of registration.
  • Vehicle title (if applicable).
  • Vehicle registration and filled out application forms.

You should pass it to the County Recorder’s Office. Register your vehicle to the county of residence of the owner. 

Both resident and non-resident certifications are available at the County Recorder’s Office. The County Recorder’s Office has online registration for ease of transaction in each county. If so, you will not be able to register or renew via the County Recorder’s Office. You can go to Iowa DNR Online License and Registration.

Iowa RV Parks

The charm of this Midwestern state is truly undeniable. Iowa is home to expansive lakes, majestic rivers, and beautiful rivers. It is why it is trendy with most and new Recreational Vehicle campers. In that sense, we have compiled some of the beautiful Recreational Vehicle parks in Iowa to hint at which to put on your following itinerary. 

On-Ur-Wa RV Park

Credits to: Trip Advisor

This park offers all modern amenities for you to use in your stay. Also, these amenities will make you comfortable in your visit here to the park. These amenities include wireless internet, clean and hot showers, full hookups, laundry facilities, and more. For recreational use, they offer bocce ball, soccer, and horseshoes.

 The area is home to museums, theatres, golf courses, and more. We can guarantee that your stay here will not be a disappointment. The rate starts from $32 per night to $192, varying if your visit is for a day, week, or month. Your every buck spent is all worth it.

Griff’s Valley View RV Park and Campground

Credits to: Trip Advisor

Do you want to exercise amid a scenic view? This campsite is suitable for you. Griff’s Valley View is a gym lover. Also, they have a great fishing pond for you to fish on after a tiring exercise. Don’t worry about getting caught in a storm in this place because they have two storm shelters in case of emergency. 

Furthermore, the leading site can accommodate even the largest motorhome, and most of them are paved. Also, each site can provide full hookups and 30/50 amp capabilities. The rates range from $30 per night, $132.50 weekly rate; and $435 monthly. It is a certain quality of what you are paying.

MacNider Campgrounds

This campsite is in Mason City, Iowa, with many attractions available in the vicinity. The great news is the MAcNider campsite is in the middle of all the attractions. You don’t have to worry about getting bored at this campsite because you can have it all. 

If you want to take your family for an aquatic adventure tour, this is a suitable campsite for you because the Mason City Family Aquatic Center is right next door and only a short walk away. 

Furthermore, this campsite is budget-friendly as well. The primary site starts from $17 per night, with water and electric site included. If you need a hookup, it will be $26/night. Some amenities are also at these rates, like access to showers, restrooms, fire rings, picnic tables, and a camp store. Downtown Mason City is up for exploration as well. It is a certain quality of what you are paying.

Amana Colonies RV Park and Event Center

Credits to: Trip Advisor

If you are after history, this place is a suitable spot for you. If you plan for a family reunion, this place can give the best accommodation for events like that. Furthermore, the Recreational Vehicle Park has home clean restrooms, laundry facilities, wireless internet, and hot showers. It has many restaurants, historic landmarks, shops, and museums suitable for a day of exploring. We assure you that you will never get bored at this campsite. 

The campsite fee is also one of the most affordable in Iowa. Its daily rate starts from $33; $181.50 for weekly rates; and $400 for monthly stays. It is an excellent spend on your hard-earned money. It is a certain quality of what you are paying.

Adventureland Resort Campground

Do you want to scream your lungs out on a roller coaster? Well, we suggest camping out in Adventureland Resort Campground because it is right next door to Adventure Land Theme Park. 

Even though it is next to popular attractions in the vicinity, you will still love to go back right after a fun day from the park in this campsite because of its home-like ambiance. They have amenities that make guests comfortable. You can lounge by the pool, relax in the recreational facilities or take your kid to the playground. If you also have a pet dog along with your vacation, they also have a place at this campsite. This park is friendly for those who have kids and pets with them.


Credits to: Trip Advisor

Iowa is home to majestic lakes, and the best water adventures happen here. If you happen to miss out on some of its best bodies of water, you are losing a significant part of your life!

Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County

Credits to: Only in your state

You can go camping, shore fishing, nature trailing, and even boating in this lake. On top of that, they impose a zero motor restriction suitable for those looking for a peaceful getaway. 

Aside from that, this lake is the home of several marinas, state parks, and tourism-related businesses. You will never get bored with all the restaurants and shops present in the vicinity of the lake.

Big Spirit Lake, Dickinson County

Credits to: Only in your state

This lake is more significant than Clear Lake. It has many amenities like fish cleaning stations, accessible shoreline, clean restrooms, accessible facilities, shore fishing, camping, and more. Also, there are some beautiful parks next door for you to stay in.

Lake Okoboji, Okoboji

Credits to: Only in your state

There are two lakes in Lake Okoboji – East Okoboji and West Okoboji. Among the two, East Okoboji is more significant than West Okoboji. East Okoboji is 3,847 acres to highlight its area, while West Okoboji is only 1835 acres. Even though they are of different vastness, they both offer state-of-the-art amenities that will make you go back. 

Storm Lake, Storm Lake

Credits to: Only in your state

The wealthiest city of Iowa is the home of this beautiful lake in the southern borders. Urban businesses are also present in this vicinity. If you want to relax from a tiring week at work, you can enjoy all the modern amenities in the lake to relax and recharge. 

Rathbun Lake, Appanoose County

Credits to: Only in your state

It is the second-largest lake in Iowa, making it very popular for some midwest tourists. There are lots to do in this lake, like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing. There are some resorts and parks that have this lake in their vicinity. Check out for them and enjoy the magic of this lake. 

Lake Sugema, Van Buren County

Credits to: Only in your state

Now, this is a hidden treasure. This lake is almost unnoticeable, and once you find it, it will feel like you found a gem. In that sense, we can assure you that you will enjoy tranquility and relaxation in this place as it is hidden in the first place. 

Preparation before going to State Parks or RV Sites

A fantastic adventure is the fruit of rigorous preparation. If you don’t prepare well for an experience, it will surely fail. Although some say it is better to travel unplanned, believe us when preparing beforehand for your travel will keep you from any mishaps along the/ way.

Permits, Reservation, and Regulations

After deciding where to go and what to bring on your next tour, your next step is to check whether you need secure camp reservations and permits. Also, you will need to know their costs to include them in your budget. 

Site reservation in any of the campsites costs $4/transaction when done online. If the reservation is via the call center, it will cost you $6/transaction. This fee applies to any camp area regardless of how long the stay is.

Also, you must secure an annual permit that costs $40 with a $4 transaction fee. This certification gives you unlimited access to any park or campsite for one year. A second vehicle certificate is needed and costs $15, and is only available for purchase in the park office. The annual permit is available online, while the second vehicle permit is paid on the park in cash or check only. You can secure daily permits in the park offices for only $5.These permits are for non-residents. 

Most of the parks in Iowa are on a first-come, first, save basis. We encourage you to give the park or campground a call first to ensure that you will have a spot. You can always check with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for all camp areas and parks. Reserving it beforehand will avoid any mishaps in your adventure. You can always check Iowa DNR for details.

RV Essentials

Credits to: Out door sy

Traveling with your Recreational Vehicle is always a fun adventure to take. But it will be troublesome if it is not enough to cater to your needs. In that case, we suggest some of the best essentials that your Recreational Vehicle needs. 

RV Covers: Like us humans, when facing harsh weather conditions, we need a cover to protect ourselves. Your Recreational Vehicle deserves to have this to maintain its good condition. 

RV Bike Rack: As you can see, we have highlighted that Iowa has many bike trails in all of its camp areas and parks. Bringing your bike along with you is a great choice to enjoy your stay. In that sense, carrying it more securely in your Recreational Vehicle is essential. 

RV Macerator Pump: In traveling with your Recreational Vehicle, you should maintain your sewers to avoid any mishaps along the way. This Recreational Vehicle macerator pump is necessary to ensure that you will be in good condition on your journey. 

Other Essentials

Food and Water

Of course, a snack to munch on is a must on every travel. You pack up some light groceries to bring with you. You can include some crackers and chips. Also, you can try to bring some easy-to-cook and microwavable foods. It is always essential to bring drinking water to ensure that you won’t get any gastric problems along the way. 

You might want to consider some cold cuts and canned goods in your grocery list because they are safe to travel with. Just make sure to check for the canned goods’ expiration dates to ensure they are still up to date. 

Hygiene Kit 

The hygiene kit varies depending on the person. You must always include:

  • Some wet wipes.
  • Sanitary napkins.
  • Tampons or menstrual cups.
  • Other essentials for a woman.

It is easier for a man to bring some towels and a pair of clothes. 

The basic hygiene kit should include a towel, soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. If you have your skincare routine, you must include it in the equipment. Also, some have hair care, so add that up if you have any. For ease, always make a list of what you need the most to ensure you won’t be leaving anything.

Establishments around Iowa You Can Visit

Each campsite and park are all near some establishment you can visit. We will give you a list of what you visit aside from the campground and the park. 

NameAddressSocial Media Link
Dan’s Pizza808 Iowa Ave, Onawa, IA 51040-1630
Click Here
Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse550 Bass Pro Dr, Altoona, IA 50009-7601Click Here
The Green Lantern Steakhouse and Lounge653 N Broadway St, Decatur, NEClick Here
Starboard Market310 Main Ave, Clear Lake, IA 50428-1825Click Here
Newton’s Paradise Cafe128 E 4th St, Waterloo, IA 50703-4714Click Here


Iowa is a beautiful state to visit, especially if you seek a peaceful place. The lakes and forests present in this state will indeed remove all your worries, problems, and stress that held your shoulder down. Now that you have read all the best about Iowa. Plan out your next adventure and make sure it will be in Iowa. 

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