The 10 Best Camping Spots in Iowa!

If you enjoy the smell of campfire, or sleep best in a tent, then the state of Iowa won’t let you down in its wide selection of great camping spots. Stretching from the wavy prairie remnants in the west to the sandstone bluffs of the east, Iowa has all sorts of scenery and landscapes to admire amongst, and to help you find the next great spot to pitch a tent. Here are the 10 best camping spots in the state. 

1. Mill Creek Park Campgrounds and Cabins

Mill Creek State Park is a gem of natural wonder found just a short distance from the town of Paullina in O’Brien County, and while this water-accessible state park offers recreational opportunities year-round, the campground itself is only open May through September. During those prime activity months, visitors to Mill Creek State Park can pitch a tent in one of 48 campsites available in the scenic park, or can reserve one of the four camping cabins that make your stay a little more weather-insured.  

2. Maquoketa Caves Campground, Maquoketa, IA

With over a dozen cave structures to explore, including the walk-in and lighted Dance Hall Cave, Maquoketa Caves State Park offers some of the most unique landscapes found in any of Iowa’s State Parks. The campgrounds at Maquoketa offers access to it all with just a short hike from where you pitch your tent. Family-friendly and very accommodating, there are 29 different campsites to choose from, all of which can fill up quickly over summer holiday weekends.  

3. Stone State Park Campground, Sioux City, IA

Right smack dab in middle of the Loess Hills of Western Iowa, the scenic Stone State Park not only has miles and miles of prairie-grass lined trails to explore, but also excellent campsites to spend the night, not to mention their collection of heated/air-conditioned cabins for rent as well. Whether you zip up the tent or stay indoors, there’s plenty to explore away from the sleeping arrangements at Stone State Park Campground and Cabins.  

4. Dolliver Memorial State Park Campground and Cabins, Lehigh, IA

The Dolliver Memorial State Park Campground has some of the best overlooking views of the Des Moines River found in any other part of the park, and can serve as a breathtaking place to catch a sunset before climbing into your tent. Outside of the campgrounds, Dolliver Memorial State Park also has two basic family cabins to rent, and an array of unique views including sandstone cliffs covered in mineral deposits and petrified wood. 

5. Nine Eagles State Park Campground #2, Davis City, IA

While all three campgrounds and total 68 campsites at Nine Eagles State Park won’t disappoint your camping needs, it’s the loosely titled Campground #2 that has the most camping appeal. It’s not a “modern campsite” but does include access to water and restrooms, plus it has the closest access to the 64-acre lake that defines many of the experiences at Nine Eagle State Park. A single family-cabin is also available to rent through the entire year if you’re looking for an indoor camping experience to go along with your fun. 

6. Wilson Island State Recreation Area Campground, Missouri Valley, IA

Located near the town of Missouri Valley, Iowa, Wilson Island State Recreation Area is popular spot to pitch a tent and thrive in the solidarity of nature. The campsites at Wilson Island State Recreation Area, which there are 125 of, all include room to spread out your things and plenty of shade to beat the summer sun. This unique State Recreation Area was once host to the Lewis and Clark expedition, and still stands today as a great place to camp the night away in Iowa.   

7. Lake Macbride Non-Modern State Park, Solon, IA

With all that Lake Macbride has to offer, including boating, fishing, biking and frisbee golf, it’s worth the while to stay a few nights in the non-modern campground located nearby all the fun. Lake Macbride also has modern campsites to choose from, but for the real spacious and solitude camping experience, the southern non-modernized campground is the quietest and has the closest access to the lake. 

8. Hike-In Campsites, Ledges State Park, Madrid, IA

Ledges State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Iowa, and to avoid some of the crowds this park can draw, going for the hike-in campsites can be your best bet. Besides beating the crowds, the hike-in campsites are a perfect place to begin exploring all the natural features and trails that makes Ledges State Park such a popular place to visit. 

9. Hike-In Campsites, Preparation Canyon State Park, Pisgah, IA

Founded as a Mormon Settlement, the once-town of Preparation is now a state park with many fine ridged trails for you to explore. To see all of Preparation Canyon and the rolling hills that make up its boundaries, it’s best to utilize one of the ten hike-in campsites all complete with a picnic table and fire ring. A great way to explore Western Iowa and the Loess Hills, Preparation Canyon State Park is the perfect getaway for overnight travelers.  

10. Little Paint & Big Paint Campgrounds, Harpers Ferry, IA

The 140 different campsites available within the Yellow River State Forest are split up into four sections—two reserved for equestrian users and the other two, Little Paint and Big Paint, reserved for non-equestrian use. No matter the site you choose, all campsites in the Yellow River State Forest offers great access to the unlimited natural resources the forest provides, and views to match. 

Iowa Search
Best Campgrounds and Camping Sites Near You
Best Campgrounds and Camping Sites Near You
13299 Spook Cave Road, Mc Gregor, IA
Mission Statement: Spook Cave and Campground will exceed the expectations of our guests by providing a fun, rewarding, and memorable outdoor recre... Read More
2303 Lake Road, Bedford, IA
The Pottawattomi tribe, a large group of Native Americans known as the "Fire Nation," once roamed the prairies of southwest Iowa and northwest Miss... Read More
6490 South Shore Drive, Clear Lake, IA
A 900-foot sandy beach is located in close proximity to the picnic area and campground. The beach, which offers unsupervised swimming, is a great p... Read More
1480 130th Street, Creston, IA
Green Valley Lake is used for all types of boating; water skiing is allowed in a designated area. For safety reasons, there are special regulations... Read More
3333 Racine Avenue, Danville, IA
Facilities and ActivitiesPicnicking/SheltersGeode State Park is one of the most scenic and popular picnicking spots in southeast Iowa. Several open... Read More
23678 Dale Miller Road, Davis City, IA
Fishing on the 64-acre lake for bass, northern pike, tiger muskie, channel catfish, bluegill and crappie is a popular sport. The lake's timbered wa... Read More
22620 County Highway S56, Eldora, IA
Facilities and ActivitiesPicnicking/Shelters/LodgePine Lake offers 4 beautiful picnic areas. One is a quiet river setting near Pine Creek on the ea... Read More
10225 Ivy Road, Fayette, IA
The Volga River Recreation Area is located in one of the most scenic parts of the state. Northeast Iowa is often referred to as "Little Switzerland... Read More
1215 220th Street, Gladbrook, IA
Union Grove State Park, located in northwest Tama County, is a very popular outdoor recreation area. The park was established in 1938. Its focal po... Read More
1422 165th Street, Hampton, IA
Beed's Lake is a popular boating spot due to its scenic beauty. Motors of any size may be used at "no wake" speeds on the lake. A modern boat ramp ... Read More
16510 118th Avenue, Indianola, IA
A 115-acre man-made lake has a large sandy beach and offers unsupervised swimming. Boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats are available for rent th... Read More
5627 Rock Creek East, Kellogg, IA
Kellogg is three miles west and two miles south of the park. Newton is four miles south and ten miles west on Highway 6 and is the county seat. Gri... Read More
22895 Lacey Trail, Keosauqua, IA
Lacey-Keosauqua State Park is one of the largest and most picturesque of Iowa state parks and recreation areas. The park's 1,653 acres of hills, bl... Read More
811 146th Avenue, Knoxville, IA
Elk Rock State Park is located on Lake Red Rock, one of Iowa's large impoundments. The area had been inhabited by Native Americans dating back more... Read More
228 South Blossom, Lake View, IA
Black Hawk Lake lies off the southeast tip of the town of Lake View in Sac County, Iowa. Black Hawk Lake was formed many thousands of years ago by ... Read More
1619 260th Ave, Spirit Lake, IA
Elinor Bedell State Park is one of Iowa's newer (1998) state parks. It is located on the shores of East Lake Okoboji and represents one of the last... Read More
21914 Park Loop, Onawa, IA
Lewis and Clark State Park lies on the shores of Blue Lake, an "oxbow" formed by the meanderings of the picturesque Missouri River many years ago. ... Read More
2720 Keomah Lane, Oskaloosa, IA
Lake Keomah State Park is 366 acres of beautiful woods and water. Lovely shaded picnic areas are nestled between the arms of the 83 acre man-made l... Read More
4530 McClintock Road, Palo, IA
Pleasant Creek Lake is one of the most popular boating spots in eastern Iowa. Four launching sites are conveniently located around the lake. These ... Read More
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