6 Beautiful Places in Iowa You Didn’t Know Existed

While Iowa is known for its farms and cornfields, this state is home to some truly beautiful locations and exciting outdoor recreation. Here are 6 amazing places you need to explore next time you’re camping in Iowa.

1. Pikes Peak State Park (McGregor)

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Pikes Peak is the place to be if you want breathtaking views. The park features more than 11 miles of hiking trails that travel through valleys, wooded bluffs, fossil remains, and steep limestone walls as well as Bridal Veil Falls. Mountain bikers can enjoy some of the the trail system within the park or jump on the 130 mile Northwest State Park Bike Route.

2. The Grotto of Redemption (West Bend)

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Wikimedia Commons/Ben Franske

This is the largest man-made grotto on the planet, and it also happens to boast the biggest collection of precious gems and stones kept in a single location. The grotto was built by Father Dobberstein in 1912 and added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2001. Today it is a symbol of spiritual devotion and people travel from around the country to see the beautiful biblical scenes portrayed within the grotto.

3. Maquoketa Caves State Park (Maquoketa)

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One of Iowa’s most unique state parks, Maquoketa Caves is a wonderland of spectacular formations, amazing caves, scenic overlooks, rugged bluffs, and lush forests. Fourteen caves of varying shapes and sizes can be found in the park, some of which are easy to maneuver and have lighted walkways while others are best explored by crawling. There are 7 miles of trails in the park and numerous must-see features such as Dancehall Cave and the “Natural Bridge.”

4. Beulah Spring Falls (McGregor)

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This enchanting moss covered waterfall can be found in Clayton County. After you’ve taken a few photos, head 7 miles west to Spook Cave and take a guided boat tour. No walking required here and the cave stays at a constant temperature of 47 degrees so it’s great for escaping the summer heat.

5. Effigy Mounds National Monument (Harpers Ferry)

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Effigy Mounds National Monument, located in the beautiful Upper Mississippi River Valley, preserves more than 200 American Indian mounds. Many of the mounds in this sacred place are shaped like animals, and there are a number of lovely hiking trails that wind through the monument.

6. Backbone State Park (Dundee)

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Wikimedia Commons/Kevin Schuchmann

Backbone State Park was the first state park in Iowa and it’s home to the highest point in the state, Devil’s Backbone. This park offers some of the best rock climbing in Iowa, and this is a great place for hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing. Backbone Lake is ideal for swimming and boating, and the fast moving stream, sourced by Richmond Springs, is known for its excellent trout fishing.

Camping in Iowa

If you’re ready to begin your adventure, Camp Native makes it simple to find your perfect campgrounds in Iowa. Search hundreds of amazing campgrounds like Horns Ferry Hideaway,  find nearby attractions and activities, and book your reservation online! Discover your next Iowa campsite and start exploring these 6 beautiful destinations.

Jessica Goehring title: Administrator
Jessica is a freelance writer. She resides in Minnesota with her husband, daughter dog, and 4 cats. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, and hiking.