Iowa April 05, 2018
7 Lesser-Known State Parks In Iowa That Will Absolutely Amaze You
Iowa’s state parks draw millions of visitors every year, and there’s no doubt you’ve heard about the incredible
overlooks at Pikes Peak and the stunning trails at Maquoketa Cave State Park. Backbone State Park is another Hawkeye favorite, and being the oldest state park in Iowa, it’s full of history.
However, sometimes it is nice to stray from the beaten path a bit, and find a place where you can feel like you’re in another world. These often overlooked, quiet state parks in Iowa are some of the best spots to explore when you want to get away from it all.
1. Preparation Canyon State Park
Preparation Canyon State Park is a remote park in the heart of Iowa's Loess Hills. This relatively undistributed park offers hike-in camping and miles of trails. If you really want a quiet hike, head out west and check it out.
2. Wapsipinicon State Park
Wapsipinicon State Park is one of the most fun parks to hike through in all of Iowa. Track down the ice cave and cross the old railroad truss bridge, or just paddle out on the Wapsipinicon River!
3. Ledges State Park
This state park in Boone is an incredible spot for nature lovers and explorers. The gorge that's at the center of the park was carved by Pea's Creek, which eventually leads to the Des Moines river. The park is named after the incredible cliffs and bluffs along the creek.
4. Lewis and Clark State Park
Lewis and Clark State Park is located near Council Bluffs, on Blue Lake. You can hike for miles, relax in a picnic area, swim in the lake, or take a boat and enjoy a day of fishing right here.
5. Palisades-Kepler State Park
Step back in time when you visit Palisades-Kepler State Park. Once, a Mammoth tooth was found here! There are fossils along the Cedar River that date back millions of years, and the Native American Burial Mounds in the park are hundreds of years old. Enjoy a relaxing day walking along the Cedar River while you take it all in.
6. Mini-Wakan State Park
Mini-Wakan State Park is a small state park located on the quieter north side of Big Spirit Lakek. If you love kayaking, this will soon become your favorite destination. There's also miles of trails for hiking, scenic picnic areas, and plenty of spots to swim in the lake itself.
7. Nine Eagles State Park
Nine Eagles State Park is one of Southern Iowa's most scenic parks, and with plenty of spots for setting up a picnic and a small bonfire, you'll soon fall in love with the views. There are nine miles of trails to explore, several swimming spots, and plenty of opportunities for boating and fishing.
What’s your favorite of Iowa’s little-known state parks? Tell us in the comments below!