Fort Defiance State Park is a smaller park encompassing 191 acres just outside of Estherville, Iowa. This park opened in 1930, making it one of the oldest parks in the state. Motorhome camping is a great activity for families to enjoy while exploring Iowa. Spirit Lake is only about 15 minutes west of the park and is a convenient place to stock up on supplies before parking your RV rental at Fort Defiance State Park.
You don't have to own an RV to enjoy a camping adventure at Fort Defiance. Book an RV in Emmet County and camp in style. Take a few extra days to explore northern Iowa; the park is situated close to the Iowa-Minnesota state line and only about 25 minutes from Jackson, Minnesota.
Camp in an RV near Fort Defiance State Park and bring along your horse for fantastic trail rides on the park's three equestrian trails. Visitors must bring their own horses for self-guided trail rides; the park doesn't offer horses for rent or trail guides. The park does require that any horses coming to the park from out of state have a current health certificate and a negative Coggins test.
The trails in the park can be used by hikers and bikers. All routes are rated moderate to difficult and are marked for hikers to easily follow. The trails will take you through prairies and woodlands. While the terrain can be a bit hilly, the hikes offer a nice, relaxing walk for visitors. During the winter months, when the trails are covered with snow, cross-country skiing is a popular pastime. Pack your skis in your motorhome rental for a cool adventure during the snowy season.
The park provides access to the Des Moines River, as well as a boat launch. Canoes and kayaks are a common sight on the river. Bring along your fishing gear and try your hand at catching your dinner. Anglers can fish from the bank on the river or from a boat near the middle of the river.
Camping at Fort Defiance State Park
Fort Defiance State Park camping can be a bit primitive, even with your camper rental. However, the peacefulness of the park is worth sacrificing a few creature comforts. There are a few campsites with electrical hookups, and potable water is within walking distance. Pit toilets are located near the campgrounds, but there are no shower facilities. Reservations are encouraged during the busy season between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
If you'd prefer to camp in an RV near Fort Defiance State Park instead, head over to Fieldstone RV Park in the city of Arnolds Park. This RV park has several deluxe campsites with water and electric hookups. Modern restrooms and shower facilities are centrally located within the park, and a laundry room is also available for guests.
KOAs are usually equipped with all the comforts of home, and the Jackson KOA in Jackson, Minnesota is no exception. This campground features full hookups with 50-amp electric service. Larger RVs up to 100 feet in length are welcome at this KOA. Modern restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities are available as well as Wi-Fi. Jackson KOA is only about 25 minutes from Fort Defiance State Park.
Exploring the Area
Leave extra time in your Fort Defiance State Park camping itinerary to visit Sioux City and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. This 20,000-square-foot complex pays homage to the Corps of Discovery’s 1804 expedition into the area surrounding Sioux City. The interpretive center uses technology and interactive exhibits to draw visitors in and teach them about the expedition. A popular exhibit is the Traditional Native Games, where visitors can learn more about Native American games that portrayed the relationship between the buffalo and the Native Americans.
Drive over to West Bend, only about an hour from the park, and view the Grotto of the Redemption. This is a religious shrine that's made from nine grottos that are rich in minerals. These grottos depict several scenes from the life of Christ. This is one of the largest grottos in the world and is also believed to be one of the largest collections of fossil minerals found in the United States. A museum sits on the grounds and offers visitors a glimpse of some of the precious and semi-precious stones found throughout the world.
Before packing up camp at Fort Defiance State Park, tour the Schroeter Diesel Technology Museum in Estherville. This is the perfect place for the self-proclaimed grease monkey to get lost in the evolution of the diesel engine. Collections housed in the museum include equipment, tools, operating manuals, and blueprints.