15+ State Parks Near the Quad Cities


We are surrounded by natural beauty in eastern Iowa and western Illinois and the IA/IL State Parks offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy that beauty. They are fun to explore with kids of all ages. From picnics and easy hikes to swimming on sandy beaches – or just looking at the natural beauty of a waterfall or an expansive vista. The state parks offer a great chance to get out and explore and we are fortunate to have SIXTEEN within a couple of hours drive of the QCA!

Iowa State Parks

Wildcat Den State Park (approx 30 miles | 35 minutes)

1884 Wildcat Den Road – Muscatine, IA

One of the most photographed State Parks in Iowa – the park features 75-foot cliffs, rock formations, and several historic structures. The 1848 Pine Creek Gristmill and Pine Mill Bridge are both on the National Register of Historic Places.

Related: Go, See, Explore: Wildcat Den State Park

Maquoketa Caves State Park (approx 45 miles | 50 minutes)

9688 Caves Road – Maquoketa, IA

With more caves than any state park, Maquoketa Caves is one of Iowa’s most unique outdoor attractions. Enormous bluffs tower throughout the park, and a six-mile trail system winds through geologic formations and forests brimming with natural beauty.

Related: Go, See, Explore: Maquoketa Caves State Park

Lake Macbride State Park (approx 65 miles | 1 hr 5 min)

3525 Highway 382 NE – Solon, IA

Several multi-use trails wind around the lake, featuring the sights and sounds of Iowa’s native birds and beautiful waterfalls. In the summer, soak up the sun by kayaking, paddling or swimming in the lake. Whether you’re visiting for an afternoon or a weekend, Lake Macbride features numerous amenities to enjoy year-round.

Palisades-Kepler State Park (approx 70 miles | 1 hr 15 min)

700 Kepler Drive – Mount Vernon, IA

Palisades-Kepler State Park is a beautiful outdoor destination on the banks of the Cedar River outside Cedar Rapids. Dramatic river bluffs, deep ravines, majestic hardwood trees and an abundance of wildlife characterize the area, and Native American Indian mounds mark the early history of the park.

Wapsipinicon State Park (approx 70 miles | 1 hr 20 min)

21301 Co Rd E34 – Anamosa, IA

Wapsipinicon State Park sits on the edge of the charming town of Anamosa and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the park’s structures, including the stone arch bridge, lodge, and shelters were handcrafted by prisoners from the nearby Anamosa State Penitentiary and remain historic icons to visit. Wapsipinicon is abundant in unique formations and geology.

Geode State Park (approx 95 miles | 1 hr 50 min)

3333 Racine Avenue – Danville, IA

Geode State Park is a beautiful destination in southeast Iowa for outdoor recreation. Lake Geode is the focal point of the park, with more than 150 acres for fishing, boating and paddlesport activities.

Backbone State Park (approx 115 miles | 2 hours)

1347 129th Street – Dundee, IA

Backbone State Park is one of the most geographically unique locations in Iowa. The steep and narrow ridge of bedrock from the Maquoketa River forms the highest point in northeast Iowa – The Devil’s Backbone – giving the park its legendary name. Take a walk through history by checking out the Civilian Conservation Corps museum, explore the rugged 21-mile multi-use trail system, or fish in some of Iowa’s best trout streams.

Pikes Peak State Park (approx 125 miles | 2 hr 15 min)

32264 Pikes Peak Road – McGregor, IA

Famed for its majestic views of the Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park is one of Iowa’s premier nature destinations. Located on a national scenic byway, the park features 11 miles of trails brimming with scenic bluffs and valleys. Walk the half-mile trail to see Bridal Veil Falls, hike to Point Ann overlooking the nearby town of McGregor or see where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers meet atop a 500-foot bluff. A hiker’s delight and one of the most picturesque regions in the state, Pikes Peak is a must for anyone wanting to see the breathtaking views of Iowa.

Illinois State Parks

Morrison Rockwood State Park (approx 45 miles | 50 minutes)

18750 Lake Road – Morrison, IL

A trip to picturesque Morrison-Rockwood State Park offers many memorable experiences.  Once inside, choose from a variety of recreational opportunities. Beautiful Lake Carlton, a stream-fed reservoir, features an abundance of ducks and geese. Morrison-Rockwood is a popular spot for a family outing at the Lakeview picnic area, or watching birds among the hickory, ash, oak and walnut trees.

Delabar State Park (approx 65 miles | 1 hr 15 min)

R.R. #2 – Oquawka, IL

Located on the Mississippi River about 1 1/2 miles north of Oquawka near Illinois Route 164, Delabar State Park offers quality outdoor experiences for anglers, hikers, campers, and picnickers.

Jubilee College State Park (approx 80 miles | 1 hr 15 min)

13921 W. Route 150 – Brimfield, IL

Jubilee College State Park is a 3,200-acre facility, located in Peoria County between the towns of Kickapoo and Brimfield, just off U.S. Route 150. This scenic area, with its rolling topography and meandering Jubilee Creek, offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities.

Rock Island Trail State Park (approx 75 miles | 1 hr 20 min)

311 E Williams Street – Wyoming, IL

Beauty and solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of city traffic, await visitors at Rock Island Trail State Park. Stretching for 26 miles from Alta, in Peoria County, to Toulon, in Stark County, the park offers many natural and architectural attractions in a tree-canopied corridor that is only 50 to 100 feet wide.

Starved Rock State Park (approx 90 miles | 1 hr 30 min)

2678 E 875th Road – Oglesby, IL

Starved Rock State Park is a wilderness area on the Illinois River. It’s known for its steep sandstone canyons formed by glacial meltwater. Several, including the St. Louis, French and Wildcat canyons, have waterfalls. A wooded trail leads to Lover’s Leap Overlook, with views of the river and Starved Rock Dam.

Related: Go, See, Explore: Starved Rock State Park Trolley Tours

Matthiessen State Park (approx 95 miles | 1 hr 30 min)

2500 IL-178 – Oglesby, IL

Just south of Starved Rock State Park — Matthiessen features canyons, streams, prairie and forest!

Illini State Park (approx 110 miles | 1 hr 40 min)

2660 E 2350th Road – Marseilles, IL

With its rustic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings and riverside picnic areas, Illini State Park offers beautiful views and a sense of history not found in many other parks.

Apple River Canyon State Park (approx 85 miles | 1 hr 45 min)

8763 E. Canyon Road – Apple River, IL

Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams, and wildlife characterize this area. Once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, the scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of the Apple River.

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