Iowa is such a beautiful place in the summer. The rolling hills, beautiful fields of green, and the sparkling creeks and rivers that flow through it make it a great state to travel and see. Here are 10 State Parks to visit this summer in Iowa.
1347 129th St
Backbone State Park is located in Delaware County. It is the oldest state park in Iowa history opening in 1920. Located along the Maquoketa river, it is known for the Devil’s Backbone, a steep rocky ridge, which was created by the Maquoketa River running through the park. Backbone State Park has several hiking trails and rocky ridges for climbing as well as boating, swimming, camping, fishing, biking, cabins, and picnicking available. There is also a museum located The Northeast State Park Bike route, which is 130 miles long, connects Backbone State Park with Pikes Peak State Park and the Wapsipinicon State Park.
Contact Information: If you have questions about camping or lodging you can contact the concessionaire at 563-933-2273 or at [email protected].
10970 98th St
Maquoketa Caves State Park is located in Jackson County. It was named Maquoketa Caves State Park because of all the beautiful caves located inside it. There are several hiking trails to explore. It’s caves, limestone formations, and rugged bluffs make it one of the most unique state parks in Iowa. The trails lead to different caves such as the “Dancehall Cave”, or lead to the Balanced Rock, or to the natural bridge that stands nearly 50 feet about the Raccoon River. Any season is perfect to go explore this park. Camping is also located in the park. There is also a museum available to explore.
Reservations: If you want to make reservations or find out more information about this park you can contact their concessionaire at 563-652-5833 or email at [email protected].
21301 County Rd E34
Wapsipinicon State Park is located in Jones County. It is know for the river that runs through it, the Wapsipinicon River. There are many things that you can do at this park. Some possibilities include camping, hiking, cave exploring, biking the Northeast State Park Bike Route, fishing, boating, swimming, and picnicking. There is also a golf course located in the park, so don’t forget your golf clubs! There are two caves located in the park. One is a bowl shaped cave called Horse Thief Cave where two local horse thieves had their camp back in the day and Ice Cave where you can cool off from the summer’s hot temps. The Wapsipinicon State Park is only 36 miles northeast of Iowa City.
Contact Information: For questions about camping or other events happening at the park you can contact them at 319-462-2761 or [email protected].
1515 P Ave
Ledges State Park is located in Boone County. Ledges State Park has many beautiful attractions. It has 4 miles of hiking trails.One trail leads to the southern part of the park were Lost Lake is located. The Northeast State Park Bike Route connects this park to two others, Big Creek State Park and Springbrook State Park.. Take a ride by Pea Creek “Canyon” and see the breathtaking scenery and the Des Moines River Valley. The limestone ledges, bluffs, and mixtures of vegetation of prairies and woodlands make it a pretty place to visit in the fall. There are also Native American mounds that are located in the park as well as a stone bridge that was built in the 1930s. A great place to see some of Iowa’s culture. Canoeing, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and camping are some of the fun things this park has to offer.
Contact Information: You can find out more about this park by contacting 515-432-1852 or [email protected].
2148 340th St
Forest City, IA
Pilot Knob State Park is located in Winnebago County. Pilot Knob houses a stone built tower which is located on the 2nd highest point in Iowa. Climb the tower, built in the 1930s, and see the beautiful scenery it has to offer. Deadman lake is also located in Pilot Knob. A lake that actually is a sphagnum bog where all kinds of things grow. It is the only one in Iowa like it. There is also another man made lake located in Pilot Knob that is great for ice fishing. There are many trails to explore whether it be on horseback, biking, jogging, or just going for a walk. Camping, horseback riding, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and exploring the bog are some of the fun activities to offers.
Reservations: To reserve a camping site you can call 641-581-4835 or email at [email protected].
700 Kepler Dr
Mt Vernon, IA
Palisades-Kepler State Park is located in Linn County. This state park is located along the Cedar River. A molar tooth from a wooly mammoth was once found along the river. The bluffs along the river are full of fossils to discover. There are also Native American mounds located here. Palisades-Kepler park has 6 miles of hiking trails where you are most likely to see wildlife hanging around. Camping, fishing, boating, and picnicking are some of the great activities to do at this state park. They also have cabins available to rent and a stone lodge that was made in 1930 to hold family reunions or wedding receptions in.
Reservations: To reserve a cabin or a camping spot, call 319-895-6039 or email at [email protected].
13084 Elk Horn St
Carlisle, IA 50047
Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park is located in Warren County. It is the newest state park in Iowa opening in 2004. It was originally known as the Banner Pits where coal was mined. Coal was mined from 1930s to around 1954 when the DNR bought the land. Since being opened in 2004 it is a great place for boating, fishing, biking, hiking, and has a public shooting range. There are no campsites or cabins available at this time in Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park. There are places to picnic at with grills located within the park.
Contact Information: For more information about this park you can call 515-961-7101 or email at [email protected].
12194 Honey Creek Pl
Honey Creek State Park is located in Appanoose County. It is on the edges of Rathbun Lake which is one of the largest lakes in Iowa. It is a beautiful place to camp, go fishing, and go boating. There is a marina also located on the lake with a great restaurant. They have many hiking trails available for you to discover. One trail is an interpretive trail depicting the lives of the Native Americans who lived there. Honey Creek Resort is a hotel located on Lake Rathbun that offers class on canoeing, storytelling by the campfire, swimming, and other fun events. There is also a golf course located on the resort as well as a water park located inside the hotel.
Reservations: To make reservations for a campsite or a cabin you can contact them at 641-724-3739 or [email protected]. For inquires about the resort, you can contact them at 641-724-9600 or look them up on their website.
32264 Pikes Peak Rd
Pikes Peak State Park is located in Clayton County. Pikes Peak overlooks the Mississippi River. It has several trails for hiking and several stops with outlooks to look out over the Mississippi River. It is also home the Native American effigy mound bear. Camping and picnicking are also available at this beautiful state park. A souvenir shop is located in the park where you can buy souvenirs, ice, and snacks. The Northeast State Bike Route is located in the park and connects it to two other state parks, the Wapsipinicon State Park and the Backbone State Park. There are also some very fun touristy towns nearby. McGregor and Marquette also offer a lot of fun and history.
Reservations: To make camping reservations you can contact them at 563-873-2341 or at [email protected].
There are so many amazing state parks in Iowa! I hope to hit the road after the county 4-H Fair this summer and take my kids camping and sightseeing in the great state of Iowa. For more information, check out this full list of Iowa’s great state parks.
Happy Trails to you!