Top 8 Best Campgrounds in Iowa: Explore the Great Outdoors in Style!

Campgrounds Iowa

Welcome to the heartland! If you’re looking for a camping adventure that’s as diverse as it is delightful, then Iowa is your destination. This article will take you on a journey through the 8 best camping spots in Iowa. So, pack your bags, grab your tent, and let’s hit the road!

1. Backbone State Park

Backbone State Park, the oldest state park in Iowa, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. This park is named after the narrow and steep ridge of bedrock cut by a loop of the Maquoketa River, and referred to as the “Devil’s Backbone”. It’s not just the stunning natural beauty that makes it a must-visit, but also the rich history.

The park’s unique masonry work from the Civilian Conservation Corps is a testament to the park’s long-standing history. Don’t miss the chance to visit the local CCC museum to learn more about the park’s past.

2. Coralville Lake Campgrounds

Coralville Lake Campgrounds is a treasure trove for nature lovers and history buffs alike. The Devonian Fossil Gorge, uncovered after a historic flood in 1993, offers a peek into the past with thousands of ancient fossils. The lake itself is perfect for swimming and boating, and the surrounding trails offer ample opportunities for hiking and exploring.

3. Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park is a place where natural beauty and cultural history intersect. The park offers breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and features Native American burial mounds. The Effigy Mounds National Monument, located nearby, is a must-visit for anyone interested in the rich cultural history of the area.

4. Maquoketa Caves State Park

Maquoketa Caves State Park is an underground wonderland. The park boasts more caves than any other state park, each one offering a unique adventure. Above ground, the park’s bluffs offer stunning views of the surrounding area. The Raccoon Creek, which meanders through the park, is perfect for a refreshing dip after a day of exploring.

5. Des Moines KOA

Des Moines KOA is a family-friendly campground that offers a wealth of activities. The campground features a paddle ball court, a jumping pillow, and dog parks, ensuring that everyone in the family, including your furry friends, has a great time. The campground’s proximity to the city of Des Moines also means that you’re never too far from urban amenities.

6. Harvest Farm Iowa Campground Resort

Harvest Farm Iowa Campground Resort offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure and cultural exploration. The campground organizes winery visits and Amish tours, giving you a taste of Iowa’s rich cultural heritage. The hiking trails and river relaxation opportunities ensure that you can reconnect with nature during your stay.

7. Stone State Park Campground

Stone State Park Campground is an urban wildlife sanctuary that offers a variety of outdoor activities. The park’s trails are perfect for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, located within the park, offers educational exhibits about the natural history of the Loess Hills.

8. Ledges State Park

Ledges State Park is a natural wonder that’s sure to leave you in awe. The park’s sandstone ledges and 100-foot bluffs offer stunning views of the surrounding area. The Des Moines River, which flows through the park, is perfect for fishing and canoeing.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the activities and amenities these campgrounds offer:

Camping Spot Activities Amenities
Backbone State Park
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Full-hookup RV spots
  • Tent camping
  • Hot showers
  • Restrooms
  • Playground
Coralville Lake Campgrounds
  • Fossil Hunting
  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Basic amenities
  • 500+ campsites
Pikes Peak State Park Viewing the Mississippi River

Exploring Effigy Mounds

  • Full electric hookups
  • Restrooms
  • Hot showers
  • Fire rings
  • Picnic tables
Maquoketa Caves State Park
  • Exploring Bluffs
  • Caves
  • Trails
  • RV and Tent camping sites
  • Hot showers
  • Modern restrooms
  • Picnic areas
Des Moines KOA
  • Paddle Ball
  • Jumping Pillow
  • Swimming
  • RV and Tent sites
  • Cabin rentals
Harvest Farm Iowa Campground Resort
  • Winery Visit
  • Amish Tour
  • Hiking
  • Tent camping sites
  • Loft cabins
Stone State Park Campground
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Mountain Biking
  • RV and Tent sites
  • Modern cabins
Ledges State Park
  • Exploring Bluffs
  • Ledges
  • Fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Non-electric and electric campsites
  • Restrooms
  • Modern showers
  • Picnic areas

Camping 101: Useful Tips for Iowa Camping

Take a look at the list below to find some useful tips for your next camping trip:

  1. Always check the weather forecast before you head out. The weather can be unpredictable, and being prepared can make your camping trip much more enjoyable.
  2. Pack plenty of water and snacks. Camping activities can be physically demanding, and staying hydrated and well-fed is crucial.
  3. Don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen. Protecting yourself from insects and the sun will make your camping experience much more comfortable.
  4. Always respect the wildlife and leave no trace. Remember, you’re a guest in their home.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the campground’s rules and regulations. Each campground may have different rules about fires, noise, and pets.
  6. Plan your activities ahead of time. Knowing what activities are available can help you make the most of your camping trip.
  7. Always have a first-aid kit on hand. Accidents can happen, and being prepared can prevent minor injuries from ruining your trip.


Iowa’s camping spots are as diverse as they are delightful. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, these sites offer something for everyone. So why wait? Start planning your camping adventure today!

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