Iowa: The Heartland by RV - Discovering Iowa's Natural Beauty

Iowa: The Heartland by RV - Discovering Iowa's Natural Beauty


Nestled in the American Midwest, Iowa is a treasure trove of scenic landscapes, rich farmlands, and quaint small towns. Traveling through Iowa by RV offers a unique opportunity to explore this state's natural beauty at your own pace. From the rolling hills of the Great Plains to the serene waters of the Mississippi River, Iowa provides a perfect backdrop for an unforgettable road trip. Here’s how to make the most of your RV journey through the heartland.

The Best Routes and Destinations

The Great River Road

Follow the majestic Mississippi River along Iowa’s eastern border by traveling the Great River Road. This route offers breathtaking views and leads to charming river towns like Dubuque, where you can explore the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Make a stop in Davenport to enjoy the vibrant arts scene and riverfront attractions.

The Loess Hills National Scenic Byway

This route in western Iowa is renowned for its unique windblown silt hills, some of the largest deposits of loess in the world outside of China. Start your journey in the historic town of Missouri Valley, then head south through a string of state parks where you can enjoy hiking, bird watching, and picturesque picnic spots.

The Covered Bridges Scenic Byway

Ideal for history buffs and romantics alike, this byway winds through the heart of Madison County, famous for its beautiful, historic covered bridges and the setting for the novel and movie, The Bridges of Madison County. Winterset, the county seat, not only hosts the annual Covered Bridge Festival but is also the birthplace of John Wayne, with a museum dedicated to his life.

Must-Visit Natural Attractions

Maquoketa Caves State Park

With its stunning system of caves, natural bridges, and bluffs, Maquoketa Caves State Park is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. The park's caves vary from the massive 1,100-foot Dancehall Cave to smaller, more intimate caverns. Well-maintained trails and boardwalks make it accessible for all ages, making it a perfect family stop.

Pikes Peak State Park

Located just south of McGregor, Pikes Peak State Park offers some of the most spectacular views of the Mississippi River. Hike to the overlooks to enjoy panoramic views that stretch for miles, and don’t miss the Bridal Veil Falls for a stunning photo opportunity.

Lake Red Rock

Iowa’s largest lake offers ample opportunities for water sports, from boating and fishing to swimming and kayaking. The surrounding public lands feature trails ideal for hiking and birdwatching, especially during migration seasons.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to explore Iowa by RV is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October). These months offer the most pleasant weather conditions—mild temperatures and minimal precipitation. Spring brings wildflowers and blooming prairies, while fall features vibrant foliage that transforms the landscape into a tapestry of colors. Summer can be enjoyable too, but be prepared for higher temperatures and occasional thunderstorms.

Tips for Traveling by RV in Iowa

  • Plan Ahead for Camping Spots: Iowa has numerous RV-friendly campsites, both in state parks and private campgrounds. Booking ahead during peak travel seasons ensures you have a perfect spot to enjoy the natural surroundings.

  • Check Local Travel Advisories: Weather in Iowa can change quickly, especially in transitional seasons like spring and fall. Keep an eye on local weather conditions and road advisories.

  • Local Delicacies: Don’t miss out on Iowa’s culinary offerings. Enjoy a tenderloin sandwich, a regional specialty, and indulge in some homemade pie from a local bakery.

  • Cultural Stops: Incorporate visits to cultural sites like the Amana Colonies for a glimpse into Iowa’s rich communal heritage, or the vibrant cultural festivals that celebrate everything from Dutch heritage in Pella to Nordic traditions in Decorah.

Tips for Traveling by RV in Iowa with Pets

  • Plan Ahead for Pet-Friendly Campsites: Iowa boasts numerous RV-friendly campsites that welcome pets, both in state parks and private campgrounds. Book ahead to secure the best spots.

  • Check Local Travel Advisories: Weather in Iowa can change quickly. Keep an eye on conditions and always prepare for your pet's needs, especially in transitional seasons.

  • Bring Supplies for Your Pet: Ensure you have plenty of water, a portable water bowl, and your pet’s favorite snacks. Cooling mats and extra shade provisions can make your trip more comfortable during warmer days.

  • Use a Pet Temperature Monitor: Especially important during the hotter months, a pet temperature monitor can help ensure your pet’s environment within the RV remains safe and comfortable. This device alerts you if the temperature reaches unsafe levels, helping prevent heatstroke and discomfort.

  • Respect Park Rules: Always keep your pet on a leash and clean up after them. This ensures everyone enjoys the natural beauty Iowa has to offer.

Traveling through Iowa by RV allows you to immerse yourself in the state's serene landscapes and rich cultural tapestry at your leisure. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or just looking for a peaceful retreat, Iowa’s roads and byways offer a path to some of the most memorable experiences the heartland has to offer. So pack your bags, prep your RV, and get ready for a journey through the beautiful state of Iowa!