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With a variety of motorhome camping sites ranging from full hookups to electric and water to electric-only, Swan Lake Campground has a right to be proud as having the largest, most diverse campground in Carroll County. Because the lake is surrounded by a wooded area, you can choose a secluded spot under the shade of mature trees with its own picnic table and fire ring. With firewood and ice for sale in the campground, you can cook up your own meals, enjoy refreshing drinks, or get a filling treat from the concession stand.
Two shower houses, restrooms, and a dump station make camping with an RV here more comfortable. Even better, wireless internet is available throughout the upper campground so you can remain plugged into the news and social media if you so choose.
Paddleboat, kayak, or canoe rentals are available so you can enjoy some peace and quiet on the lake. Snowshoe rentals are available, too, in winter. Other times of the year, Carroll campers have plenty of fun in scheduled activities ranging from stargazing to monarch tagging to summer fun games. Leash your pet, and you may even bring it to a running or cycling event. Sink a line at the lake and make use of the fish house, or embark on a cycling tour of the Sauk Rail Trail easily accessible from the campground.
Find the best RV rentals in Carroll County, and you'll be grabbing life by the handlebars as you pedal from one state park to another along the 33-mile asphalt and concrete Sauk Rail Trail. Bring your bike and rental motorhome to Swan Lake Campground, start pedaling from the trailhead nearby, and before long, you emerge into the town of Carroll and the green pastures approaching Breda. Stop by at the 1905 restored depot by the side of the trail before continuing on to the Black Hawk Marsh and finally, at trail's end at the Black Hawk Lake State Park in Sac County.
If you're looking for a challenging hike, at least by Iowa standards, the undulating trails at Ledges State Park are sure to give you a serious workout. Four miles of mostly ascending path takes you to a scenic overlook of the Des Moines River and the Pea's Creek Canyon. The canyon, which is comprised of "ledges" rising 100 feet above the creek bed, was carved out by melting glacial water 13,000 years ago.
On the oxbow of Blue Lake, Lewis and Clark State Park is exactly what it says on the signpost. In 1804, the pioneering expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, with their guide and interpreter Sacagawea, embarked on a journey to map out the vast territory recently purchased from France. On August 10th of that year, their keelboat stopped on this spot, and the party disembarked to survey the surrounding geographical conditions as well as the flora and fauna. Embark on your own mini-expedition and follow in their footsteps as you explore the trails and view the barge’s full-sized replica.
When you rent a camper near Swan Lake Campground, you’re well-placed to admire Carroll’s modest collection of well-preserved history. A fitting first stop would be the Carroll County Historical Society Museum to learn more about the history of the county through artifacts and exhibition, followed by a visit to the Farmstead Museum on the shores of Swan Lake. Here you can view a historical barn, some agricultural machinery, and mounted animals displayed in the barn's hayloft. Then there's the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Depot designed in classic Victorian Romanesque style. Today it is home to the Carroll Chamber of Commerce and surrounded by a relaxing green space.
Baseball fans may want to time renting an RV in the summer when the Merchants Park Stadium is roaring with action. Built in 1949 for the town's then semi-pro league, today the Merchants baseball team continues the tradition, winning the Pioneer Collegiate Baseball League championship in 2017. More than a dozen gas stations and around the same number of grocery and convenience stores are located in the town to keep you well-fed, and your campervan rental sufficiently fueled, so stay a while and cheer for the local team.
During the prohibition era, farmers in Carroll County found a way to supplement their income by concocting rye whiskey, which originated in nearby Templeton. It was said that during the production peak in the early 1930s, as many as three truckloads of kegs a week were moved out of Templeton to as far as Chicago. Even the notorious gang leader Al Capone was said to have been a paying customer. If you're intrigued by the history or wish to sample the authentic bootlegger's recipe, visit a local distillery who can arrange a tour for you.
Camping in Carroll, Iowa, you get to enjoy a generous dose of nature, bits of history, and some baseball action. And if you’re up for it, a splash of whiskey. Quite a combination, it's as fascinating as the whiskey’s history. Be fascinated some more and let a rental RV from Carroll take you farther on your Iowa journey.