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Although air travel is relatively affordable nowadays, camping trips are still incredibly popular. There are so many reasons why families and groups of friends might choose a camping trip staycation over a trip overseas or on the other side of the country, such as affordability and convenience.

Once you have decided on which state you want to explore during your camping trip, you will need to choose the campsites that you want to stay at. In this article, we will look at some of the best campsites in Iowa to make your camping trip as memorable as possible.

1. Pikes Peak State Park

Like most states in the US, Iowa is home to some of the most beautiful state parks in the world. One of the most famous parks in Iowa is the Pikes Peak State Park.

The thing that brings people back to this park time and time again is the breathtaking panoramic views of the Mississippi River. There is an RV park that is often referred to as one of the best in the country.

There are a number of other campsites sprinkled around the sprawling park. Some of the campsites are electric while others are not.

It is important to check which site you are visiting to ensure that it is suitable for your needs. Every campsite in the park has washrooms and showers to allow you to freshen up.

It is highly recommended that you make a reservation at the campsite in advance to avoid disappointment. There are small shops around the park where drinks, ice, and food can be purchased.


  • Stunning views of the Mississippi River
  • Multiple campsites with different amenities to suit your needs
  • Plenty of hiking trails to keep you occupied during the day


  • Can get booked up far in advance

2. Backbone State Park

If you are looking for a camping trip that offers plenty of opportunities for hiking at all different skill levels, Backbone State Park is the place for you.

The site is named after a high and narrow ridge in the park known as The Devil’s Backbone. The campground at South Lake has separate non-electric and traditional sites. Guests also have access to standard campsite amenities.

There is an additional campground within the state park known as Six Pine Campground, which is located to the West of the park.

This campsite offers campers a primitive camping experience with no hookups at all. If that sounds a little bit extreme for your tastes, there are also four cottages that can be rented on the premises.


  • A vast array of hiking trails open to the public
  • Multiple options of campsites with various surroundings within the park
  • The ability for primitive camping for a bigger adventure


  • The views are very limited in certain parts of the park

3. Maquoketa Caves State Park

Known as the second-best campground in Iowa, Maquoketa Caves State Park is a must-visit spot for avid camping enthusiasts.

This is one of the most visited state parks in Iowa. It is known for being a little more adventurous and out there than other parks in the state.

When you are camping, there are modern conveniences that make your trip as comfortable as possible, while the stunning pine trees make for a memorable backdrop.

One thing that campers love about staying at Maquoketa Caves State Park is that it is conveniently located close to Cedar Falls.

This means that there are some incredible dining options and nightlife nearby that you can indulge in during your trip. Of course, there are also the amazing Maquoketa Caves that can be explored while you are there.


  • Close to Cedar Falls for dining options and nightlife
  • Incredible caves that can be explored
  • A stunning backdrop of pine trees helps to create incredible memories


  • Because it is one of the most popular parks in the state, it can be quite busy

4. West Overlook Campground

The stunning West Overlook Campground is located in the Iowa River Valley, North of Iowa City. This is a great location for a family camping trip with young children.

In addition to all of the standard amenities and features that you would expect of a campsite, West Overlook also has playgrounds that are suitable for kids of all ages.

The campsite also has access to a stunning beach, a volleyball field, and a picnic area with shelter for wet days. The campground is set within dense woodlands that are full of wildlife.

You can indulge in fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking during your trip. If you are looking for a campsite that has everything you need to keep busy for the whole trip, West Overlook is perfect.


  • Standard campsite amenities to keep your family comfortable
  • Access to a local beach and dense woodland
  • Plenty of activities including swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking


  • The electric campsite spaces can be booked far in advance

5. Bellevue State Park

If you are looking for a state park that offers unrivaled views of the Mississippi River, you can’t go wrong with Bellevue State Park. This park is divided into two distinct sections.

The campsites can be found in the Nelson Unit and the Dyas Unit. Within the Nelson Unit, there are approximately 2 km of pathways and a butterfly garden. There are also incredible Indian mounds that were built between 500 BC and 1200 AD.

If you are into historical artifacts and archaeological sites, there are plenty to choose from within the park, providing you with entertainment throughout your trip.

There are also some beautiful trails that you can hike with your family to spot some of the local butterflies. The campsites in Bellevue State Park offer all the amenities that you could need.


  • Stunning views of the Mississippi River from the campsite
  • Interesting archaeological sites and historical artifacts
  • Plenty of local wildlife to find on hikes


  • The campsite and amenities are separated into two separate areas which can be inconvenient

6. Des Moines KOA

Another wonderful campsite for people who are traveling with young children who need more entertainment than different hiking trails is Des Moines KOA.

This campsite is located close to the town of Winterset, where John Wayne was born, and to the location where the Bridges of Madison Country was set.

The KOA is renowned for being the best RV park and campsite in Des Moines. This is thanks, in large part, to the plethora of activities for families.

There are jumping pillows, trampoline basketball, and paddle boats to keep children of all ages entertained throughout your trip. Although the property is located in tranquil Iowa farmland, this is the perfect campsite for adventure seekers.


  • Located near sites of cultural interest
  • Plenty of activities for children of all ages to do
  • Highly rated and recommended campsite in stunning Iowa farmland


  • The park can often get loud during busy periods which isn’t ideal for campers who want to relax

How To Pick The Best Campsite For Your Trip

Focus On The Amenities

When you are trying to plan your camping trip, you are likely to find multiple different campsites that all offer different amenities.

The types of amenities that you want from your campsite will depend on who is attending the trip with you and the type of camping that you enjoy.

If you want to participate in primitive or wild camping, you will want to find a campsite that offers as few amenities as possible.

However, if you are looking for something more comfortable, you might want to search for a campsite that has showers and washrooms available to campers.

If you are traveling with small children, you might want to make sure that you choose campsites that have more activities beyond simply hiking every day.

Campsites with access to beaches and playgrounds would be perfect to keep everyone entertained.

Think About The Location Of The Campsite

Alongside the amenities of the campsite, it is important to consider the location of the campsite.

If you are looking for a campsite that has access to plenty of attractions and amenities outside of the site, you might want to make sure that the site is located close to towns and cities outside of state parks.

If you are into primitive camping or like the feeling of being switched off from the modern world when you camp, finding a campsite in the heart of a state park could be the perfect location for you.

Final Thoughts

There are so many beautiful campsites throughout the state of Iowa. above are just a handful of amazing places to camp and get back in touch with nature.

You can also experience all the amazing, natural views that the state has to offer by visiting some of these campsites.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Iowa Known For?

One of the main things that Iowa is known for as a state is the stunning state parks that are filled with the natural beauty of the area.

There are a total of 83 state parks scattered throughout the state of Iowa. All of the parks offer different views, landscapes, and recreation areas.

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