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Iowa is home to some stunningly beautiful protected lands, from dense forests, dramatic cliffs, caves, and clear lakes to the mighty Mississippi River, and it has plenty of camping and outdoor recreation opportunities for the whole family to enjoy. Fishing, hiking, mountain and road biking, kayaking, and rock climbing are all popular activities here.
Iowa state parks offer a great value to RVers. Well-maintained campgrounds, standard amenities, and big rig friendly sites with electric hookups are available for $20 during peak season. With a few exceptions, there are no entrance fees at Iowa state parks. RV camping is available at 50 sites and dozens more dedicated historical, recreational, and protected areas in the state park system, making Iowa an ideal stop on a cross-country route.
To make a reservation, visit iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com or call 877-427-2757.
Reservations are required and can be made from 3 months up to 2 days in advance of arrival. Due to unpredictable weather, all campsites are first come, first served between November 1 and March 31.
Two nights are required over weekends, 3 nights over holidays during peak season.
All campgrounds have sites that accommodate RVs up to 35 feet, and most fit rigs over 40 feet. Search by RV length on the reservations website.
ADA-accessible campsites are available for reservations on the website or over the phone.
Partial and full hookups are available. Most campgrounds have electric hookups and many have water and/or sewer, although the number of sites with all three is limited. Campsites with hookups are searchable through the reservation system.
WiFi is generally not available in Iowa state parks. If connectivity is a priority, contact the park for more information about WiFi coverage and cell service.
The maximum stay is 14 days. Campers must vacate for at least 3 days before returning to the same park.
Park facilities range from restrooms and a dump station to playgrounds, visitor centers, concessions, and outdoor activities such as marked hiking trails and swimming beaches. Facilities are listed under each campground website and in the reservation system.
“Modern” campgrounds include heated shower buildings and flush toilets. “Nonmodern” campgrounds have vault toilets, and may not have potable water available.
Campsite fees range from $6 per night for a site with no hookups in a nonmodern campground during the offseason to $16 per night for a site with electricity in a modern campground in peak season.
Water and sewer hookups are an additional $3. Peak season dates are May 1 through September 30.
Nonrefundable reservation fee: $4 if booked online, $6 if booked through the call center.
Nonrefundable change fee: $5. Changes can be made only through the call center.
Cancellation fee: $5 if canceled online, $7 if canceled through the call center.
Cancellations one day prior to arrival also forfeit the first night’s fee. Cancellations on the day of arrival incur two nights’ fee.
Pets are allowed as long as they’re kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Of course, campers should always pick up after their pet.
- Maximum occupancy per site: 6 people and 1 or 2 vehicles.
- Check-in time: 4 p.m. Check-out time: 3 p.m.
- Quiet hours: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- Alcoholic beverages: Beer and wine permitted, hard liquor and kegs are prohibited.
- Generator use: Permitted except during quiet hours.
- Campfires: Allowed in designated rings or pits, following local advisories.
- Drone use: Regulations vary; check with the specific park.
Pikes Peak State Park
32264 Pikes Peak Road, McGregor, IA 52157
Located on a national scenic byway, Pikes Peak State Park is one of Iowa’s top outdoor destinations. Miles of forested hiking trails, a waterfall, and scenic bluffs and valleys all enhance the park’s highlight: the magnificent views over the Mississippi River at the confluence of the Wisconsin River. The campground has almost 70 sites, most with electric hookups. Restrooms, a dump station, a playground, and a visitor center are available. Pikes Peak was established as a state park in 1936, and its campsites are a mix of sizes and spacing from one another. Check the reservation system map for maximum RV length and accessibility. With good cell service and convenient access to stores, Pikes Peak is a great base to explore this scenic area, including charming river towns and Effigy Mounds National Monument.
Backbone State Park
1347 129th Street, Dundee, IA 52038
Iowa’s oldest state park is an ideal summer camping experience with more than 20 miles of scenic hiking trails, streams for fishing, and a lake for swimming and boating. Established in 1920, Backbone State Park is named after a strikingly steep, narrow ridge of bedrock carved by the Maquoketa River. Hiking and water activities, rock climbing, rappelling, and cave exploring opportunities are available for the adventurous visitor. The park includes a beach, lodge, playground, market, dump station, restrooms, and a Civilian Conservation Corps museum. More than 100 campsites, half with electricity, can accommodate big rigs. Note that the campground is operated seasonally and open only from May through September.
Maquoketa State Park
9688 Caves Road, Maquoketa, IA 52060
There are a variety of landscapes to see in Iowa, and one of the most surprising is Maquoketa State Park. The drive up to the entrance passes flat cornfields, but once inside, park visitors are transported to another world of dense forest, bright green moss and ferns, and rocky streams. Rock formations and dramatic bluffs reveal the park’s highlight: a series of caves connected by trails, walkways, and stairways. For an overnight stay, 30 campsites are nestled in the forest. Most can fit RVs up to 40 feet, and a few sites accommodate bigger rigs. All have electric hookups. Park facilities include a restroom, dump station, playground, museum, visitor center, and showers. Check the park website for notifications on cave closures. Even if the caves are closed, the park is still well worth a visit to explore the family-friendly trails through this unique landscape.
Iowa state park campgrounds that accommodate RV camping
Backbone State Park
Beeds Lake State Park
Bellevue State Park
Black Hawk State Park
Brushy Creek State Recreation Area
Clear Lake State Park
Dolliver Memorial State Park
Elinor Bedell State Park
Elk Rock State Park
Emerson Bay State Recreation Area
Fairport State Recreation Area
George Wyth State Park
Green Valley State Park
Gull Point State Park
Honey Creek State Park
Lacey Keosauqua State Park
Lake Ahquabi State Park
Lake Anita State Park
Lake Darling State Park
Lake Keomah State Park
Lake Macbride State Park
Lake of Three Fires State Park
Lake Wapello State Park
Ledges State Park
Lewis and Clark State Park
Maquoketa Caves State Park
Marble Beach State Recreation Area
McIntosh Woods State Park
Nine Eagles State Park
Palisades-Kepler State Park
Pikes Peak State Park
Pilot Knob State Park
Pine Lake State Park
Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area
Prairie Rose State Park
Red Haw State Park
Rock Creek State Park
Shimek Forest Campground
Springbrook State Park
Stephens Forest Campground
Stone State Park
Union Grove State Park
Viking Lake State Park
Volga River State Recreation Area
Walnut Woods State Park
Wapsipinicon State Park
Waubonsie State Park
Wildcat Den State Park
Wilson Island State Recreation Area
Yellow River State ForestFor more information on Iowa state park campgrounds, visit iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Camping.