16 Best Iowa State Parks Everyone Should Visit

Are you looking for state parks in Iowa? Are you unable to decide out of so many options, which ones are the best and worth visiting? Well, then you’re at the right place as this article contains answers to all your questions. In this article, we put together all the best state parks in the Oklahoma area that are worth all the time, effort, and money. You can visit these parks to spend amazing quality and fun-filled time with your family, friends, or loved ones. In the list of the parks, we’ve covered everything you need to know about them.

Best State Parks in Iowa:

Palisades – Kepler State Park

Palisades – Kepler State Park - Iowa state parks

Let’s start the list with one of the best state parks out there, Palisades – Kepler State Park. The wark was established in the year 1934, which also makes it one of the oldest state parks in Iowa. The park is nestled along the beautiful Cedar River in Linn County and is spread over 840 acres of land. Palisades Kepler State Park is home to many river bluffs, deep ravines, magnanimous hardwood trees, a variety of wildflowers, an abundance of wildlife, and much more. In addition to all these, the park is also quite well-known for its prehistoric past. Last but not least, it offers great opportunities for lodging, camping, and picnicking.

Timings: 4:30 AM-10 PM
Contact: +1 319-895-6039
Location: 700 Kepler Dr, Mt Vernon, IA 52314, US (Get Directions)

Backbone State Park

Backbone State Park

If you are looking for the best Iowa state parks with cabins, then your search ends here. Backbone State Park offers its visitors to choice of both modern two-bedroom cabins as well as renovated one-bedroom cabins. Well, the best part is that most of the cabins are available year-round.

Not just this, all these cabins that you’ll find here are well equipped with heating and air conditioning facilities. Backbone State Park also offers one of the best Iowa state park camping with over 125 campsites located in two campgrounds.

Area: 5.727 km²
Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 563-924-2527
Location: 1347 129th St, Dundee, IA 52038, US (Get Directions)

Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park - Iowa state parks

Next up, on this list of Iowa state parks, we have Pikes Peak State Park. Well, it is one of the few parks out there that offers a tremendous array of outdoor recreation opportunities. Unlike other state parks, here, you can enjoy these recreational opportunities all year round. Pikes Peak State Park is well known for offering camping, swimming, picnicking, and plenty of other outdoor recreational opportunities.

While you’re here, we would suggest that you must not miss the park’s Gull Point area. Also, here, you’ll be able to find unique settings of lakes like Lakes East, West Okoboji, Big Spirit Lake, etc.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 563-873-2341
Location: 32264 Pikes Peak Rd, McGregor, IA 52157, US (Get Directions)

Ledges State Park

Ledges State Park - Iowa state parks

Located near Ames, Boone, Ledges State Park is the next entry on this list. When it comes to Iowa state parks camping, Ledges State Pak is one of the best options to go for. Well, Ledges State Park is filled with nearly 94 campsites. Out of all these campsites, 40 are with electrical hookups, 42 are non-electric, and 12 are hike-in. The best part is that all these campsites feature a number of facilities. These facilities include modern restrooms, showers, a trailer dump station, a playground, etc. 

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 515-432-1852
Location: 1515 P Ave, Madrid, IA 50156, US (Get Directions)

Maquoketa Caves State Park

Maquoketa Caves State Park - Iowa state parks

If you would love to “step back” into geological time thousands of years, Maquoketa Caves State Park is the park for you. Well, the park is home to a number of historic caves, limestone formations, and rugged bluffs. This makes it one of the unique state parks in the area. In addition, Maquoketa Caves State Park offers visitors to choose from over 29 campsites.

The best part is that these campsites are nestled among mature pine trees and feature multiple modern facilities. If you are planning to visit this state park, we would suggest you must carry flashlights and some old clothes.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 563-652-5833
Location: 9688 Caves Rd, Maquoketa, IA 52060, US (Get Directions)

Wildcat Den State Park

Wildcat Den State Park

Located near Davenport, Milan, and Muscatine, Wildcat Den State Park is yet another great option you can consider. Well, not just great, Wildcat Den State Park is the best option when it comes to parks for family outings. It is one of the best parks out there you can visit to “get away from it all” for a weekend and a family vacation. We don’t say this about Wildcat Den State Park for just the sake of it. Well, the park offers more than 28 campsites and non-modern restroom facilities, perfect for family vacations.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 563-263-4337
Location: 1884 Wildcat Den Rd, Muscatine, IA 52761, US (Get Directions)


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Wapsipinicon State Park

Wapsipinicon State Park

Wapsipinicon State Park is one of the first state parks in Iowa. Well, the park lies just south of Anamosa on the Wapsipinicon River (locally referred to as the Wapsi). The park spreads over 834 acres and is filled with a number of rivers and sandstone & limestone bluffs. It is one of the best state parks out there for hiking. Here, while hiking you can get opportunities to discover and explore a multitude of flowers, trees, wildlife, etc. Also, Wapsipinicon State Park offers over 30 campsites and modern restrooms with plenty of facilities.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 319-462-2761
Location: 21301 Co Rd E34, Anamosa, IA 52205, US (Get Directions)

Big Creek State Park

Big Creek State Park - Iowa state parks

Well, primarily, Big Creek State Park was created as part of the Saylorville project. The park was created at first to protect Polk City from floods. Later, it became one of the best parks out there providing recreation opportunities for visitors of all ages and interests. You can visit this park, which is located near Altoona, Ames, and Ankeny. Big Creek State Park is spread over 866 acres and offers some of the best opportunities for activities like boating, swimming, and camping.

Timings: 4:30 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 515-984-6473
Location: 8794 NW 125th Ave, Polk City, IA 50226, US (Get Directions)

Stone State Park

Stone State Park - Iowa state parks

Stone State Park is one of the few state parks out there offering a wide range of trails. The park is filled with over 6 miles of equestrian trails, 6 miles of mountain bike trails, and snowmobile trails. Well, that’s not just the end, the park also features 8 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails. When in the park, we would say that you must not miss visiting the park’s Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center. We say so because the center offers a variety of interpretive displays, a 400-gallon aquarium, natural history dioramas, and more.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 712-255-4698
Location: 5001 Talbot Rd, Sioux City, IA 51103, US (Get Directions)

Rock Creek State Park

Rock Creek State Park - Iowa state parks

Next up, on this list, we have one of central Iowa’s major state parks, Rock Creek State Park. Rock Creek State Park is spread over 602 acres and as a result, is the third largest state park in Iowa. It is one of the few state parks out there that has truly something to offer everyone. Rock Creek State Park is one of the best Iowa state parks camping as it has over 200 campsites, modern rest rooms, and showers. Also, the park has multi-use trails around the park ideal for hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 641-236-3722
Location: 5627 Rock Creek E St, Kellogg, IA 50135, US (Get Directions)

Walnut Woods State Park

Walnut Woods State Park

Walnut Woods State Park is nestled along the Racoon River and encompasses over 260 acres of wooded bottomland. As the name suggests, you’ll be able to find a large surviving natural stand of black walnut trees within the park. Here, you’ll be able to find more than 90 species of bird along the numerous foot and bridle trails. In addition, the park offers ideal opportunities for cross-country skiing, camping, picnicking, and more.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 515-285-4502
Location: 3155 Walnut Woods Dr, West Des Moines, IA 50265, US (Get Directions)

Lake Darling State Park

Lake Darling State Park

As the name suggests, Lake Darling State Park is home to a beautiful 302-acre lake called Lake Darling. The park spreads over 1,417 acres and features almost 18 miles of shoreline. Well, the lake is an angler’s delight and offers the best fishing as well as boating opportunities.

Well, here, you can expect fishes like catfish, crappies bullheads, bluegills, largemouth bass, carp, tiger muskies, and others. Also, Lake Darling State Park is home to a large and well-equipped campground. The campground features a total of 118 campsites. 

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 319-694-2323
Location: 111 Lake Darling Rd, Brighton, IA 52540, US (Get Directions)

Lake Manawa State Park

Lake Manawa State Park

Lake Manawa State Park is considered to be one of the most popular outdoor recreation facilities in the Omaha area. Well, the park spreads over 1,529 acres and is home to a beautiful natural lake of over 660 acres. It’s no doubt why the park is the favorite spot for anglers of all ages as well as the premium boating spot. In addition, the park has several areas and open shelters, ideal for picnicking. Also, the park provides plenty of opportunities for a hike, leisurely walk, bike ride, and much more along the shoreline.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 712-366-0220
Location: 1100 S Shore Dr, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, US (Get Directions)


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Lake Ahquabi State Park

Lake Ahquabi State Park

The next entry on this list of Iowa state parks is Lake Ahquabi State Park. Well, if you are wondering what on earth doe Ahquabi means, the word means “resting place”. Well, it is a Sauk and Fox word that fits accurately for this scenic state park spread over 770 acres.

The park offers ample opportunities for water activities. These activities include boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and more. At Lake Ahquabi State Park, the campground is located by the lakeshore. The campground is filled with over 141 campsites, modern rest rooms and showers, and two trailer dump stations.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 515-961-7101
Location: 16510 118th Ave, Indianola, IA 50125, US (Get Directions)

George Wyth State Park

George Wyth State Park

Last but not least, on this list, we have George Wyth State Park. Well, the park was dedicated in the year 1940 and was called s the “Josh Higgins Parkway”. Later, it was renamed after a well-known Cedar Falls businessman and conservationist, “George Wyth”. Since then, the park has been an “urban sanctuary” offering diverse outdoor recreational activities for visitors.

The park is spread over 1,200 acres and is abundant in woodlands and wildlife. George Wyth State Park is located between Waterloo and Cedar Falls in Black Hawk County. It is considered one of the ideal destinations out there in the Iowa area for activities like camping, fishing, swimming, picnicking, biking, in-line skating, running, walking, and more.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 319-232-5505
Location: 3659 Wyth Rd, Waterloo, IA 50703, US (Get Directions)

Lake Macbride State Park

Lake Macbride State Park

Lake Macbride State Park first opened to the public in 1937 and, since then, has been heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is located near Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and is spread over 2,180 acres. If you love outdoor recreational activities, then there’s hardly any better option out there for you than this state park.

Well, Lake Macbride State Park offers opportunities for a range of such activities. It offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, picnicking, swimming, hiking, camping, boating, and lots more. Well, Lake Macbride State Park has a total of two campgrounds consisting of over 50 campsites.

Timings: 4 AM-10:30 PM
Contact: +1 319-624-2200
Location: 3525 Hwy 382 NE, Solon, IA 52333, US (Get Directions)

Conclusion:

So, with all these said, we come to the end of our article on ‘State Parks In Iowa’. Well, there are a total of 63 state parks located in the Iowa area. Out of all the state parks, above, we’ve listed the best ones that you can visit without any second thought. Well, you can go with any one of the aforementioned Iowa state parks. Out of all the various options, you’ll be able to find the right one keeping in view your tastes and preferences. 

Also, there are plenty of other destinations in Iowa you can visit once done visiting these state parks. Well, you can choose from Iowa’s 5 state forests, 3 state wildlife areas, national historic sites, 3 national wildlife refuges, metro parks, city parks, and the list goes on.