If you're looking for a stop for your next RV vacation that combines breathtaking views, adventure, and lots of history, there's no better place than the Maquoketa Caves State Park. This park extends for almost 200 acres, with a significant chunk being a historic district of Iowa. Maquoketa Caves State Park is famous for its cave, many nature trails, and unique natural formations including the Natural Bridge. The history behind the park and its landscape is rich, dating back possibly thousands of years. Stepping into the park and exploring all it has to offer is almost like stepping into a time machine and going back to when Native Americans inhabited the land.
There is something for everyone at Maquoketa Caves State Park, even if young children cannot keep up with the terrain of some of the trails. Don't hesitate to pack up the RV and take the whole family, including the dog, to Maquoketa caves State Park. The campgrounds feature sites that are available for reservation and local purchase, plus most of them have electrical hookups.
Peak season for the Maquoketa Caves state park is between mid-April and mid-October. During the off-season you can still explore the park's trails but the caves will be closed for bat hibernation.
RV Rentals in Maquoketa Caves State Park
Transportation in Maquoketa Caves State Park
Getting to the park is not hard, but the roads aren't exactly RV friendly. The campgrounds are gravel, although the roads are not too narrow. Some visitors say the RV accessible campsites are a bit close together, but it's nothing that takes away from the adventure that awaits you.
You definitely can't take the RV around the entire park. For convenience, if you plan on going in and out, you should bring a car with you. However, if you just plan on exploring the park you can get around by foot or bike pretty easily as long as you don't mind a little bit of good old exercise. Make sure to check ahead and see if there are any road closures or construction going on since these are both fairly often occurrences.
While there are parking lots around the park, it is probably easiest to set up shop at your campsite and travel by foot or by bike. This gives you a chance to explore the many nature trails that are just waiting to be discovered.
Campgrounds and parking in Maquoketa Caves State Park
Campsites in Maquoketa Caves State Park
Maquoketa Caves Campground
The Maquoketa Caves Campground offers 35 sites that are available for tents and RVs. 25 of the sites offer electric hookups, six of them are walk-to sites, and there are also shelters and youth group sites available. The campground provides the bare minimum that you need in order to have a great camping trip. This includes restrooms and showers. You can even bring your furry friend with you during your stay.
Some visitors warn that the campsites are close together, but at the end of the day this all comes down to preference and all of the RV sites have the same amenities. All of the campsites are back-in, but they vary in size. Some sites can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 68 feet long, while others only have enough room for vehicles up to 31 feet in length. Make sure you check for the max length for whatever campsite you reserve. You can make reservations for sites from April to October. Most campsites can be reserved up to three months in advance. Some sites are not open for reservations.
Maquoketa Caves Campground
The Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground is available on a walk-in basis from November to March. Some sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis year-round. You'll see be able to choose from sites with electric hookups, shelters, hike-in sites, and youth group sites. You'll be within walking distance to restrooms and showers. Your pets are also welcome to come with you during your stay.
Some campsites are close together, but you're able to pick the spot that best suits your needs. You'll still be close to all the action of cave exploring and hiking the nature trails. You'll love discovering all the unique natural attractions of the park, like the Natural Bridge. If you're staying with the kids make sure to visit the nearby playground too.
Seasonal activities in Maquoketa Caves State Park
Relaxing on the Maquoketa River
The park is located just one mile from the Maquoketa River where canoe rentals are available. You can take a boat ride down the tranquil Maquoketa River, a great activity for couples, or rent inner tubes for the entire family and float together. This is especially nice after a long day of getting dirty in the caves. As you float along you'll likely see wildlife among the lush vegetation along the edge of the river. It's easy to forget about the sun's rays while on the shady trails and in the caves, but be sure pack sunscreen in your camper.
Hiking the Nature Trails
Maquoketa Caves State Park features over six miles of trails with varying terrains. The trails put you smack dab in the middle of the gorgeous forest that is just teeming with wildlife. From towering trees and the many species of birds that inhabit them to the wildflowers that attract fluttering butterflies, you can enjoy it all while strolling through the shade. There is no rock climbing or repelling allowed because it's such a historic site, so as tempting as it may be, be sure to respect the rules and not damage any of this beautiful park.
The Maquoketa Caves State Park has more caves than any other Park in Iowa, making it the perfect vacation for spelunkers, also known as cave explorers. The large spacious caves, such as the Dancehall Cave, are perfect for families or beginners. Some of the smaller caves are a little bit difficult but still provide lots of fun. Just be sure to bring a flashlight, helmet, and some comfortable clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. With 13 caves to explore, you could spend all day at the park and still not see everything it has to offer.
Among the diverse wildlife at the Maquoketa Caves State Park is many species of birds. Bird lovers will love walking the trails and counting how many different species you can see. Some species of birds you may see include turkey vultures, golden-winged warblers, gray catbirds, great horned owls, blue jays, crows, goldfinches, pigeons, woodpeckers, northern cardinals, and doves. If you're lucky you may even see some eagles soaring overhead. The specific species you see will depend on what season you go during, but you're guaranteed to see at least some.
During the off-season you can still enjoy natural beauty of the park by going for a picnic. Few things compare to enjoying a meal with people you love in the middle of such a beautiful park. And while this can be enjoyed any time of year, many people find the park especially beautiful during the late fall and winter months, when the leaves are changing colors and when the entire park has been transformed into a winter wonderland. Just be sure to dress warmly if you go during this time.
Visiting the Interpretive Center
The Interpretive Center is like a museum and theater all in one. History buffs will love the vast amount of information contained within the Interpretive Center about the geologic formations around the park and the natives that inhabited the caves many, many years ago. The interpretive Center is a go-to for any families with very small kids who may not be able to handle all of the caves but still want to see everything. The center offers a virtual tour that lets you explore the entire park from within the safety of the Interpretive Center. This is a must-see, especially if you are visiting the state park in your RV during the off-season.