Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The undulating lands that compose Iowa state are nearly dedicated to agriculture where soybeans and corn take center stage, but in between these fields lie vast tracts of naturally magnificent attractions in the form of wilderness areas, streams, lakes, and rivers. Attractions that are natural magnets for outdoor buffs like RV-boarded travelers.

A tour of the American state called the Hawkeye State should pleasantly reveal a host of places that nature has gifted with awe-inspiring magnificence and grandeur, complementing a rich cultural past that has made the state uniquely Iowa. There can be no doubt that this particular state is another good reason RV riders should go camping in America.

A Tour of the Regions

At least ten diverse regions make up Iowa state variously categorized into the Northwest Region, the North Central Region, the Northeast Region, the West Central Region, the Central Region, the East Central, the Eastern Region, the Southwest Region, the South Central Region, and the Southeast Region. The cities comprising each of these regions carry several attractions that RVers will find truly engaging.

Northwestern Iowa

The Northwest Region is made up of a great number of cities, but for RV-boarded travelers, Lake City, Ida Grove, Okobojl, Lakota, Spirit Lake, Lake View, Ruthven, and West Bend are the cities worth remembering because they not only have interesting attractions, they also happen to host campgrounds where RVs are welcome. Lake View, for instance, boasts of the Lake View Camp Crescent Campground which offers 118 pull-through sites. Among its nearby attractions naturally is Lake View City where Black Hawk Lake is situated. The lake, covering 957 acres, is a favorite hideaway among the locals for its glacial waters and for the many activities that it supports like swimming, fishing, hunting, and camping.

Another attraction near Lake View is the Sauk Rail Trail, a 33-mile long hiking path that runs from Lake View to Swan Lake. RV-boarded hikers should take note that the portion surrounding Swan Lake is quite hilly but beyond that, the area gets to be leveled, especially the trail that starts at Maple River up to Carnavon.

North Central Iowa

The region plays host to numerous museums housing many ancient artifacts that reflect its rich heritage. There are arts centers, theaters, and botanical places here to satisfy the cravings of art lovers, but for the outdoor enthusiast, typified by RV riders, several cities offer convenient resting areas for them and for their RVs. Among the cities to consider in North Central Iowa are Belmond, Clear Lake, Charles City, Eldora, and Rock Falls.

Clear Lake City ought to be an ideal place to visit in the region for RV-boarded travelers because it was here where the late Buddy Holly made his last concert appearance in 1959. After performing at the Surf Ballroom together with J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens, Holly boarded a plane that crashed soon after on the northern end of Clear Lake. The Surf Ballroom now stands as a historic city landmark where various musical events are held including annual tributes every February to the ill-fated musical legends. RVers should tour the site with great interest and afterwards get to enjoy more activities at nearby Oakwood RV Park where hiking and biking paths can be seen.

Northeast Iowa

Rivers and a hilly forest are just two of the come-ons of this region, areas that are usually the first real options for RV-boarded travelers. Specifically, most of the outdoor activities happening in the region focus on the waters of the Turkey River with swimming, fishing, and canoeing being the more popular ones.

Over at the eastern end, Clermont presents the Heritage Farm Park where regional cultural history is well-preserved as seen in its many features like the Barn, a restored 1890 barn house equipped with decks to allow visitors to have a good look of the green hills situated below, and the Blacksmith Shop, an area where Iowa metal works are displayed and are major presentations during school excursions.

Finding a good place for the RV should not pose any problem in Clermont as there is the Skip-A-Way RV Resort along Harding Road. With 13 pull-through's under its fold, the resort has the added advantage of being quite near the great Turkey River.

West Central Iowa

The region boasts of a highly historic city, a town sandwiched between a majestic hill and a mighty river, and a state park honoring a great American expedition. Various cultural events also characterize much of West Central Iowa with many of its towns offering various campgrounds for visiting RVers.

Of the many cities found in West Central Iowa, Onawa is perhaps the best one to consider visiting because it showcases several premier Iowa attractions. These include ancient but magnificent Loess Hills. Formed thousands years ago from a strange interaction of silt and wind, Loess Hills comprises about 200 miles of hill chains where tours of various kinds are regularly held. For RV-boarded travelers, visiting the hills is one outdoor activity that should be quite an adventure although if one prefers more action, a drive across the Loess Hills Scenic Byway found just outside the city should be enough to pump up the adrenaline.

For camping areas, Onawa boasts of two RV parks, namely, On-Ur-Wa RV Park and Onawa/Blue Lake KOA. West of Onawa, the Lewis and Clark State Park also hosts several camping sites.

Central Iowa

The region is the acknowledged Iowa art center although there are wildlife centers and ancient farmlands that offer excellent outdoor opportunities for visiting RVers. Des Moines, the state capital, leads the list of places to visit here, not only because a great number of significant landmarks await tourists but also because RVers can easily check in at an RV campground found nearby.

Apart from Des Moines, though, Central Iowa is proud of its other cities that likewise have their own share of attractions that can actually give the state capital a run for its money. Among these cities are Colo, Marshalltown, Story City, Waukee, Newton, and Altoona. The last two cities are worth considering for most RVers as both host two RV parks, although the latter is comparatively the better alternative since it covers the major areas of interest of most tourists, including RV-boarded trippers.

Set at a distance of five miles from the capital of Iowa, Des Moines, Altoona plays host to prominent retail shops like Wal-Mart, Target, Menards, and Lowe's and fine dine-in restaurants complemented by rows of first-class hotels. Amusements-wise, the city boasts of an aquatic park, an adventure park, and a world-class casino.

In terms of outdoor attractions, Altoona has several golf courses, tennis courts, biking trails, and eight spacious parks covering roughly 286 acres where various activities are commonly held, including picnicking.

There are at least two RV parks that tourists can choose from when visiting Central Iowa. These are Griff's ValleyView RV Park and Adventureland Campground, with the latter being adjacent to the largest resort complex in Iowa, the Adventureland Amusement Park, where over a hundred rides can be enjoyed apart from many exciting shows.

East Central Iowa

The East Central Region is more of a historic area for Iowa since there are many ancient places here that have effectively preserved the old way of life. A good example of this can be seen in the seven German villages where beers and wines are manufactured in the very same way they were made hundreds of years earlier. These are suitable areas of exploration for RV-boarded tourists although for adventures best done outdoors, the regional parks are good places to start. For this, Marengo City is worth considering.

Marengo is set in the central area of the Iowa River Valley on the southwestern end of Cedar Rapids. Shoppers and diners are abundant here, but so are anglers and hunters, so RVers need not fear being out of place. Additionally, three parks are situated here, including the City Square Park, the Lion's Park, and the Gateway Park and Preserve. The latter is specially suited for RVers as it boasts of two man-made waterways where fishing is a common activity.

Standing on the southern tip of the Iowa River banks, the 131-acre wide park also features a ramp where boaters are given access to Iowa River where ostensibly they can explore its waters. Nearby, a tower has been set up for bird-viewing purposes, and in one corner, trails have likewise been formed to challenge the spirit of hikers and bikers. Providing shelter both for the traveler and his RV is the Sudbury Court Motel and RV Park along Highway 6 Trail.

Eastern Iowa

The Eastern Region has three significant cities where RV travelers should ideally head off to since these are RV-friendly being host to three major RV parks. In Davenport, there is the Interstate RV Park with its 59 pull-through sites. Monticello, meanwhile, holds the Walnut Acres Campground Inc., under its control, and in Dubuque City, RVers are welcomed warmly at the Dubuque Yacht Basin and RV Park.

Of the three Iowa regional cities, focus should be on Dubuque, a modern-day town but charming in its elegant Victorian setting. It is ranked seventh among the largest cities in the Hawkeye State and is well-known
for its numerous parks where hikers, bikers, mountain climbers, and all other known outdoor buffs are known to converge. Of these numerous parks, Marshall Park should easily catch the attention of most RV-boarded tourists owing to its heavily wooded and thus mysterious setting. It is also here where one can find the publicly accessible Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

Southwest Iowa

A vast collection of historical museums best describes this particular region of Iowa, attractions that should spur the interest of a typical RV rider since these will not entail traveling across rugged pathways. Nevertheless, for RVers with an eye for extreme adventure, the region has numerous parks where diverse outdoor sports can be engaged in.

In Shenandoah City alone, at least 18 parks are waiting to be explored, each one having either an exciting hiking path or a simple picnic area to offer. One of these, the Waubonsie Park features the famed Wabash Trace biking trail on its southwest border. The 60-mile nature trail runs across the picturesque countryside district of Southwest Iowa and is usually accessed via the Shenandoah Trailhead. Traveling across this trail should ideally lead to a good observation of the historic Loess Hills.

South Central Iowa

The world-famous Knoxville Raceway is the most dominant feature of this region where several prominent sprint car drivers are known to participate in. For the typical RV-boarded traveler however, a tour of the outdoor wonders of South Central Iowa should be preferred with its many cities actually offering this. Visitors can take their pick from such towns as Centerville, Eddyville, Albia, Leon, and Sigourney, among others, but for the most part, the choice should be Centerville which houses two major RV parks namely Rathbun Marina and Southfolk Marina and Campground.

Centerville is situated near several state parks and rivers, making it another Iowa city worth an RV camper's time. One park, Honey Creek State Park, lies along Rathbun Lake and is renowned for its fishing and boating endeavors. It encompasses about 828 acres with areas designed for picnicking and camping activities. There are additional areas intended for prospective hikers. Another park, Lake Wapello State Park, covers a much bigger area, at least 1,150 acres, and features cabins and camping sites. Boaters and anglers are also known to tour the area.

Southeast Iowa

This is another Iowa region that is rich in history but nevertheless showcases a good number of natural attractions like secluded caves that should lead RV riders to several amazing discoveries. Among the cities here where wondrous places await discovery are Mount Pleasant, Keokuk, and Farmington. These cities also happen to host several RV parks to provide riders a more enjoyable regional visit.

Mount Pleasant best represents the region since it is found on the southeastern tip of Iowa, offering a diverse set of outdoor fun that includes fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, and golf games, with majority of these taking place at Lake Geode State Park.

The main feature of the park, though, is Lake Geode, a 1950 man-made lake covering 186 acres that has lured many anglers with its vast collection of various fish species like tiger muskies, crappies, bluegills, large mouth basses, bullheads, channel catfish, and red-haired sunfish.

Another attraction of the Lake Geode State Park is its 186 campsites equipped with a dump station, shower areas, and four open-air picnic sites with one having an elegant fireplace. Over at the northeastern side of Lake Geode, RV riders can set up camp sites at the nearby beach where camping supplies are available apart from boat rentals for tourists who are thinking of embarking on a boating expedition.

Exploring Iowa Cities

Several Iowa cities are worth exploring because these offer glimpses into the rich past of the Hawkeye State amidst a backdrop of natural wonders that should make for a great outdoor experience. Adding more excitement to all of these is that there is at least one RV park operating in majority of these cities to enable RVers a more enjoyable time to examine the many attractions of Iowa.

Des Moines

The state capital is ostensibly the metropolitan district of Iowa where a great number of different activities regularly take place. Practically every known sign of urban progress can be seen here, from elegant restaurants to mammoth shopping malls. However, there are several Des Moines landmarks that offer historic insights and centers that cater more to the curious side of tourists, areas where RV campers will most likely feel at home.

In Des Moines, the attractions that will interest most RVers are those that deal with fun and learning, preferably those done outdoors. For this, its many parks offer the most suitable solution, with the Des Moines Park and Recreation in University Avenue serving as a good example. The area has 53 parks where facilities for such endeavors as hiking, biking, swimming, and picnicking are available. A tennis court and three golf lawns can likewise be seen here apart from three swimming areas, and three aquatic centers.

Iowa City

The former state capital, Iowa City features rows of historic structures led by the Old Capitol building but is also equally popular for hosting modern establishments like the University of Iowa. Worth exploring as well are the Amana Colonies, seven small-town villages of German descent that have made the Iowa River their home. In these villages, RV travelers can visit the Museum of Amana History, the Communal Kitchen Museum, the Cooper Shop Museum, and the Amana Community Church to find out what makes these colonies a unique attraction of Iowa City.

For pure outdoor fun, the Coralville Lake is the place for RVers. Situated on the northern side of Iowa City, the 5,000-acre wide lake is famous not only among boaters, anglers, and water-skiers butto cross-country skiers, hikers, and bikers as well because the area has been adorned with several walking paths.

Best Time for an Iowa Visit

Iowa is characterized by summer months that are hot but strangely moist. Winters are naturally cold but are generally dry and though occasional blizzards visit the Hawkeye State during this period, this is actually a good time to tour Iowa, particularly its many state parks.

Among the state parks found in Iowa, a good one to explore during winter is the Waubonsie State Park. Its scenic setting backdropped by gentle snow is simply beyond description especially when viewed against the majesty of the Loess Hills.

Another state park that offers good winter visits is the Waterloo-based George Wyth Memorial State Park where ice fishing and snowmobiling are popular activities. A trail system inside the park leads to the famed Cedar Falls where cross-country skiing is a sport heavily indulged in by many.

Scenic View Campground

Put up just a little over two years ago, Scenic View Campground is one RV camping area that lives up to its name. This is because it affords its visitors a good observation of the famous Yellow River, upon whose shores the campground stands on. The said river is quite popular among anglers for its wide array of trout fishes, a species that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources regularly stocks the river up with. Apart from fishing, the river also welcomes tubing and canoeing activities.

Comprising of 60 different campsites ranging in type from simplistic to pull-through's, Scenic View Campground is near several historic attractions like McGregor in Iowa and Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin. Camp-based attractions include a newly built volleyball facility founded on genuine river sand.

Amana Colonies RV Park and Event Center

Situated right in the middle of the renowned Amana Colonies of Iowa, this RV park encompasses 60 acres upon which 450 fully hooked-up sites are known to be in operation. Around 70 sites are said to be founded on gravel roads and powered by 20-50 amp electricity.

Surrounded by fenced grounds, the park comes equipped with modern camp amenities like laundromat, restrooms with showers, security lighting, and four dump stations. Most significantly, it is situated near the historic Kolonieweg Recreation Trail and majestic Lily Lake of the Amana where RV-boarded visitors will ostensibly have the chance to explore the unique way of life that is said to exist within the quaint Amana villages.

Free Price Quote
Get multiple price quotes from dealers in your area-
No obligation to buy!

Find a Dealer
Locate dealers that carry the RV you're looking for
Our dealer network is nationwide and always growing