Visiting new places is a lot of fun, especially when you have time to really slow down and take a look around. These 11 awesome Iowa parks are worth a trip if you haven’t seen them. If you have already visited these parks, you’ll understand why they are on our list of parks that you’ll want to visit over and over again.
1. Waubonsie State Park, 2585 Waubonsie Park Rd., Hamburg
Waubonsie State Park, located in the scenic Loess Hills, is a dream come true for horse riders and hikers. There are seven miles of trails that take visitors through valleys and gorges that are unique in Iowa. Wildlife, landforms, and breathtaking views are ready and waiting at this beautiful park.
2. Lacey Keosauqua State Park, 22895 Lacey Trail, Keosauqua
This is 1,653-acre park with a historic site where early Mormon pioneers stayed. There are 19 Native American burial mounds and 200-year-old trees here, as well. The 30-acre lake offers recreation and relaxation.
3. Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, 8991 Bellevue Heights, Dubuque
This park is a favorite of trail lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. The park is 1,380 acres and it's located close to Dubuque. Visitors report seeing bald eagles, hawks, and bobcats. Trails are ideal for mountain biking.
4. Backbone State Park,
1347 129th St., Dundee
This park offers some of the best Iowa hiking. Dolomite limestone ridges offer an exceptional view of the surrounding terrain, including the Maquoketa River and the valley.
5. Yellow River State Forest, 729 State Forest Road, Harpers Ferry
The rapids here draw paddlers along the state-designated water trail that runs through this park. The Yellow River State Forest is 8,503 acres so there's lots of opportunity to explore on foot or on the water.
6. Elk Rock State Park, 811 146th Avenue, Knoxville
Migrating waterfowl and wildlife at this park are fun to watch from the shallow backwaters by paddle. This park is the backwater area of Lake Red Rock, which is the largest lake in Iowa.
7. Springbrook State Park, 2437 160th Road, Guthrie Center
With over 900 acres of woodlands and prairie, this park offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the state. There are 12 miles of trails here and a 17-acre lake. Visitors report seeing muskrats, coyotes, raccoons, turkeys, foxes, and deer.
8. Maquoketa Caves State Park, 10970 98th St., Maquoketa, Iowa
For those that are looking for a caving adventure, this is the ideal Iowa park. Bring a flashlight and wear old clothes, because some of the caves are very narrow.
9. Pictured Rocks, 12004 190th St., Monticello
If you'd rather scale the rock wall than climb into it, Pictured Rocks is your park. There's rock climbing and hiking available here for every ability level.
10. Honey Creek Resort, 12633 Resort Dr., Moravia
Situated next to the 11,000-acre Rathbun Lake, Honey Creek Resort is a great place to spend time on the water. There are 40 boat slips, a fishing pier, and a boat launch. You can rent paddle boats, pontoons, kayaks, jet skis, and canoes here.
11. Hitchcock Nature Center and Loess Hills Lodge Interpretive Facility, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek
There are 12 miles of hiking trails here, with beautiful views of the Loess Hills. Spend some extended time in the RV & tent campground and enjoy archery, picnics, and the playground.
Do you have any other suggestions for Iowa parks that you love to visit again and again? Let us know in the comments.