Iowa sits in “Heartland America,” sandwiched between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. A landscape of rolling plains, golden cornfields, and quaint Main Streets, Iowa is rich in culture, history, and activity. It’s waiting to be discovered and explored, cherished and memorialized in selfies. Load the family in the RV and turn the wheel towards the Midwest. It’s time to make some memories in the Hawkeye State.
Get Wet and Wild at Iowa Great Lakes
Iowa Great Lakes are a chain of five glacial lakes in northwest Iowa. This oasis is truly a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Open year-round, folks, young and young-at-heart, can enjoy every type of water sport and pastime imaginable, from sailing to ice fishing.
Enjoy parasailing, sailing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, and going on a glass-bottom boat tour in the spring and summer. In the winter, snowmobiling, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and hunting are on the agenda. Marinas and outfitters offer rentals and guide services.
Besides fun at the lake, visitors can play all day at Arnolds Park Amusement Park or Boji Splash Indoor Waterpark, tour museums, choose from a variety of delicious restaurants, shop till they drop, and much more. Plus, you won’t find any shortage in RV parks. There are easily a dozen campgrounds surrounding the lakes.
Travel Back in Time in the Amana Colonies
The seven villages that make up the Amana Colonies were established in 1856 in Eastern Iowa by German Pietists escaping religious persecution. Utilizing craft and farming skills learned overseas, the settlers maintained a nearly complete self-sufficient economy for almost a century. These specialty trades were passed down from one generation to the next.
Today, the Amana Colonies have become a tourist destination, offering delicious German cuisine, arts and crafts, handcrafted furniture, and outdoor recreation. Seasonal events and activities are planned throughout the year. Festivals like Maifest, Wurst Festival, and Oktoberfest include food, great brews, live music, kids’ activities, contests, and so much more.
Besides hotels and bed and breakfasts, visitors can stay at the Amana RV Park. But it’s a good idea to check the Amana Colonies website beforehand to plan your RV trip around one of the annual festivals.
Venture Underground at Maquoketa Caves State Park
If you’ve had enough of the hot, humid summer weather above ground, try venturing below the surface in Iowa’s best caves. Maquoketa Caves State Park consists of about 13 caves that visitors can walk or crawl through (for those serious spelunkers). A 6-mile trail winds through the park and showcases its most profound features, including enormous bluffs, geologic formations, forests, and scenic overlooks.
For more in-depth information on the geology of the cave formations and state park establishment, visitors can take a trip to the interpretive center. Best of all, everything can be accessed steps from your RV if you opt to camp at the park’s newly upgraded campground.
Explore the Charming Town of Winterset
What do covered bridges, John Wayne, and apple cider have in common? Winterset, Iowa, of course.
Winterset is the county seat of Madison County, also referred to as the “Covered Bridge Capital of Iowa.” What was once 20 covered bridges peppered in and around Winterset is now a mere six. These remaining historical structures collectively share the same name as the romance novel and movie adaptation, Bridges of Madison County. They can all be explored while driving along the 82-mile Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. Plus, a great time to visit Winterset is in October, when the annual Covered Bridge Festival is celebrated.
Culter-Donahoe Covered Bridge, one of the covered bridges, sits in the historic Winterset City Park, which is right next to the Winterset City Park Campground. Located just minutes from downtown, RVers will want to set up camp here while they tour the town.
Winterset’s town square is full of historical buildings and novelty shops, and eateries. The Madison County Courthouse stands sentinel in the center of the square. Folks will also find the John Wayne Birthplace Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to the legend, nearby. The massive establishment houses “the largest diversified exhibit of John Wayne artifacts in existence, including original movie posters, film wardrobe, scripts, contracts, letters, artwork and sculpture, and even one of his last customized automobiles.”
Need a break from sightseeing? Head on over to the Winterset Cidery for a flight of craft cider concoctions. Sit out on the open deck overlooking the endless apple orchard and soak in a bit of the Heartland’s sunshine.
Fill up at the World’s Largest Truck Stop
Truck stops are essential for all drivers, RVers included. It’s where travelers fuel up and grab a bite to eat. It’s even better when a truck stop has even more conveniences like restaurants, laundry facilities, and a section for RVs to park and stay overnight if needed. While there are many of these travel centers around the nation, none compare to Iowa 80, dubbed the “World’s Largest Truck Stop.”
“Some say Iowa 80 Truckstop is like a small city, others have likened it to a Trucker’s Disneyland, all can agree it is a place not to be missed.” The website goes on to explain, “Iowa 80 Truckstop features eight restaurant choices, a convenience store, gift store, Super Truck Showroom, barbershop, chiropractor, dentist, movie theater, workout room, laundry facilities, gas islands, diesel fuel center, truck service center, Truckomat truck wash, Dogomat pet wash, CAT Scale, 24- private showers, trucking museum and more!”
Be Sure You are RV Road Ready Before Departing
There is a certain amount of preparation that goes into making your RV ready for any trip. While you are checking off your list of to-do’s, be sure to add “signing up for Coach-Net Roadside Assistance” if you haven’t already done so. Coach-Net is your safety net for all of your RV adventures. Learn more here.
“As an RV owner, you owe it to yourself to have the protection you need when you need it most. You can rest easy knowing that Coach-Net has you covered.”
About The Author: Levi Henley
Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years. They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time. They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats. They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com
Mike S. ~ “I am very pleased I chose Coach-Net! When I needed you, you were there for me!”