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. 

Select a Iowa town to find the Best Things-To-Do and Places To Go around you
Best Campgrounds and Camping Sites Near You
Enter City / State or Zip code below
Select your town to find the Best Things-To-Do and Places To Go around you:

Adair County

Adams County

Allamakee County

Appanoose County

Audubon County

Benton County

Black Hawk County

Boone County

Bremer County

Buchanan County

Buena Vista County

Butler County

Calhoun County

Carroll County

Cass County

Cedar County

Cerro Gordo County

Cherokee County

Chickasaw County

Clarke County

Clay County

Clayton County

Clinton County

Crawford County

Dallas County

Davis County

Decatur County

Delaware County

Des Moines County

Dickinson County

Dubuque County

Emmet County

Fayette County

Floyd County

Franklin County

Fremont County

Greene County

Grundy County

Guthrie County

Hamilton County

Hancock County

Hardin County

Harrison County

Henry County

Howard County

Humboldt County

Ida County

Iowa County

Jackson County

Jasper County

Jefferson County

Johnson County

Jones County

Keokuk County

Kossuth County

Lee County

Linn County

Louisa County

Lucas County

Lyon County

Madison County

Mahaska County

Marion County

Marshall County

Mills County

Mitchell County

Monona County

Monroe County

Montgomery County

Muscatine County

Obrien County

Osceola County

Page County

Palo Alto County

Plymouth County

Pocahontas County

Polk County

Pottawattamie County

Poweshiek County

Ringgold County

Sac County

Scott County

Shelby County

Sioux County

Story County

Tama County

Taylor County

Union County

Van Buren County

Wapello County

Warren County

Washington County

Wayne County

Webster County

Winnebago County

Winneshiek County

Woodbury County

Worth County

Wright County