Northeast Iowa is home to valleys, cliffs, streams, and trails that offer outdoor opportunities everywhere. One of the simplest ways to enjoy the area is to set up camp. Many campsites offer views that you cannot find elsewhere, including incredible views of the Mississippi River. Each of these campgrounds offers nature experiences and an opportunity to connect with the great outdoors. If you enjoy camping, you will want to camp in these campgrounds in Northeast Iowa.
This area of Iowa is home to several private and state-owned campgrounds. Each campground offers spectacular views and experiences. If there is one thing that I would recommend doing while camping in Northeast Iowa, it’s floating on one of the rivers. The bluffs and views along the river banks will take you to a quieter place in time, and you will find yourself connecting with nature like never before.
1. Pikes Peak State Park Campground, McGregor
Pikes Peak State Park campground is home to 77 campsites. Half of the campsites are available on a reservation basis, which leaves the other half open to a first-come, first-serve basis. Electric and water campsites are available, as are standard electric sites. A short hike from the campground will take you to the highest bluff on the Mississippi River, Pikes Peak, at 1,130 feet. From this peak, you can see the confluence of the Wisconsin River and the Mississippi River. Looking to the north, you can see the twin suspension bridges that connect Iowa and Wisconsin.
Bring your binoculars and camera with you to this point, as the views are majestic. There are miles of hiking trails within Pikes Peak State Park, including incredible vistas, streams, babbling brooks, hills, and valleys. Bridal Veil Falls and Bear Mound are all a short hike from Pikes Peak State Park campground. This state park offers limited cell service, making it a great place to disconnect from the busy world around us. Fall is a fantastic time of year to visit, as the leaves are bursting with color. The views that are a short step from your camper are incredible.
2. Pulpit Rock Campground, Decorah
Pulpit Rock Campground offers several reservable sites, as well as first-come, first-serve sites. There are two sides to this campground, the Pulpit Rock Side and the Twin Springs Side, divided by a trout stream. Several pull-through sites, back-in sites, and tent sites are available. A canoe landing, trout stream, and easy access to the Trout Run Trail make this a popular campground for outdoor enthusiasts. Wi-Fi is available, along with playground equipment, a basketball court, and a volleyball net. Bring your outdoor gear and be ready to keep moving, and enjoy the scenery that the Decorah area has to offer. After a long day in the outdoors, I would recommend taking a walk to the Whippy Dip. You can get in a 1.5-mile walk and enjoy some of Iowa’s finest ice cream.
3. Yellow River State Forest, Harpers Ferry
The Yellow River State Forest has the nickname “Little Switzerland.” Allamakee County is home to this state forest, which offers more than 8,500 acres for trout fishing, hiking, hunting, cross country skiing, and horseback riding. There are hills, valleys, and outstanding views that you will fall in love with within this area of Iowa. This state forest offers more than 170 campsites all year long. If you are a horse lover, you will appreciate the equestrian campsites. These campsites are great for self-contained units or those who want the authentic outdoor tenting experience, as there are no electric sites. Campers will want to carry in drinking water, as the only place you can find drinking water in the state forest is the A-frame information center. If sleeping under the stars, surrounded by nature, is something you aspire, you will appreciate every moment camping in Yellow River State Forest.
4. Volga River Recreational Area, Fayette
The Volga River Recreational Area is home to two campgrounds. The Albany Campground has equestrian and non-equestrian campsites. The equestrian campsites all have electrical hook-ups, whereas the non-equestrian campsites do not have electrical hook-ups. Running water is available with vault toilets. Lakeview Campground offers modern showers and a sanitary dump station. All of the campsites here have full hook-ups, with some including sewer. Both of these campgrounds provide level campsites and an opportunity to camp under the stars. The facilities are all modern and up to date, which makes it a very clean and safe place to camp.
With 22 miles of multi-use trails, this recreational area is one that you don’t want to miss. The equestrian trails are great for horses and hikers. The paved road throughout the Volga River Recreational Area is great for riding your bicycle. Frog Hollow Lake is near Lakeview Campground and offers bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, and largemouth bass for the avid fisherman. Small boats with no wake can be operated on this lake. The Volga River offers kayaking, canoeing, and an opportunity for fishing.
5. Lake Hendricks Campground, Riceville
Lake Hendricks Campground is part of the Howard County Parks system. All campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis. With 80 modern and primitive camping sites, you are sure to find one that fits your needs. Electricity, water, showers, flush toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings are at each site.
A butterfly garden, 54-acre man-made lake, fishing, picnicking, biking, canoeing, and boating (electric engines only), a beach, nature trails, and an archery range make this campground a favorite. Relax at your campsite in the shade of the trees while enjoying a campfire.
6. Chimney Rock Campground, Cresco
Floating the Upper Iowa River is easy when you camp at Chimney Rock Campground, near Cresco, Iowa. Northeast Iowa’s best-kept secret is here in this corner of Iowa. The bluffs and scenic views along the Upper Iowa River are second to none. Shade trees and the forest makes for a welcoming campsite during the heat of summer. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent. Electric campsites are available and can be reserved through their website.
7. Spook Cave And Campground, McGregor
Spook Cave and Campground offers a unique experience, camping, and caving. Campsites are spacious and offer full hook-ups for campers. Campsites are available near the trout stream and waterfall. The towering bluffs surround the campground and, along with the large trees, offer shade. Take the underground cave tour by boat and experience one of Iowa’s fun caving experiences.
Fall is an exceptional time to visit, as the foliage is incredible. The rich orange, yellow, and red-orange leaves will be enriched in your mind forever. Fall in this area of Iowa is a memorable experience. The outdoor adventures are endless when you camp at Spook Cave and Campground.
8. Lake Meyer Park And Campground, Fort Atkinson
Winneshiek County is home to Lake Meyer Park and Campground in Fort Atkinson. Canoeing, kayaking, and boating with electric motors are all permitted on the 30-acre lake. The 160-acre park includes 27 electrical campsites and a handful of non-electric sites. Flush toilets, showers, and a dump station are on site.
Lake Meyer is stocked with northern pike, bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, and channel catfish. There is easy access along the lake for fishing off of the banks. There is also a handicap-accessible dock with a 60-foot fishing jetty.
Each of these campgrounds offers an opportunity to connect with nature in Northeast Iowa. The lakes, streams, trails, and the Mississippi River will help make your camping experience one of your best camping experiences of all time. With several campsites on a first-come, first-serve basis, reservations are not required, but they are recommended. If you like to travel with a plan and know where you want to stay each night, make your reservations ahead of time.
Northeast Iowa offers incredible views and experiences that many people don’t often think of being in Iowa. Your outdoor camping experiences will be what you make out of them. Embrace nature and allow yourself to slow down and connect with nature as you set up your campsite.