Go, See, Explore: Maquoketa Caves State Park

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Growing up, I had no idea how lucky we were to be so close to such a great landmark! But now, as an adult the Maquoketa Caves are a place that I love to take my children to explore each summer.

You can visit year round – but you cannot enter the caves during the winter. They will reopen April 15, 2022!

Location

9688 Caves Rd, Maquoketa, IA

Just north of the QCA, in Maquoketa is one of Iowa’s most unique outdoor attractions. With more caves than any state park, Maquoketa Caves also has enormous bluffs that tower throughout the park. And a six-mile trail system that winds through geologic formations and forests – brimming with natural beauty.

As one of the Iowa’s earliest state parks, Maquoketa Caves has been a popular destination since the 1860s. Grab your hiking shoes and a flashlight before traveling to Maquoketa Caves, because this state park is nothing short of adventure.

The caves are cool on the inside – so depending on time of year – you may want layers.

Plan Your Visit

Hike the six-mile trail system linking the caves and scenic overlooks throughout the park. Trails provide access to caves and park facilities while weaving through the rich landscape. Highlights of the park include the “Natural Bridge” standing 50 feet above Raccoon Creek and the 17-ton “Balanced Rock.”

Explore the 1,100-foot “Dancehall Cave” and many others such as Hernado’s Hideaway, Shinbone Cave and Wye Cave. About 13 caves can be found in the park, some of which can be explored by walking, while others are better suited for serious spelunkers who are used to crawling in tight spaces. In summer months, naturalists conduct a White Nose Syndrome (WNA) Awareness Program for visitors before entering the caves. This program is required for anyone planning to explore the caves.

Learn about the geology of cave formations and park history at the new interpretive center, formerly known as Sager’s Museum. The facility is open on weekends during the summer and includes a video tour of the park as well as park history.

Enjoy camping among beautiful pine trees in the newly upgraded campground, or choose one of the primitive hike-in sites. Camping reservations can be made online through the online reservation system for Maquoketa Caves State Park, and 100 percent of campsites are reservable and a reservation is required.  The campground accepts reservations March – November and is closed December – February.

Occupy one of the two picnic shelters or bring your children to the playground structure located between the campground and picnic area. The historic CCC shelters were constructed in the 1930s and often serve as are a meeting location for the park’s summer nature programs. The two shelters are not reservable and are available on a first come first serve basis.

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