Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Stories

Best Backpacking In Iowa

Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in Iowa.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

Yellow River State Forest

Hikers from Chicago and Milwaukee sometimes use the Yellow River Backpack Trail as a warm-up for longer hikes, but this 25-mile path is also a good place to slow down. It winds through native hardwood forest, up and down among limestone bluffs, past scattered camps, and along trout-stocked streams. Whether you dangle your feet or a shiny lure in the sun-dappled waters of Little Paint Creek, you can’t help but unwind.

Contact: Yellow River State Forest, (319) 586-2254; www.state.ia.us/government/dnr/organiza/forest/yr.htm.

Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

Endless wild horizons are hard to find in Iowa, but they do exist-you’ll find proof at 6,000-acre Brushy Creek, one of the largest spreads of public land in the state. A web of 35 miles of multi-use trails crisscross the area. Several nonequestrian campsites are available, especially in the southeastern part of the park.

Contact: Brushy Creek State Recreation Area, (515) 543-8298; www.state.ia.us/government/dnr/organiza/ppd/brushy.htm.

Ledges State Park

Deep sandstone canyons, 200-year-old white oaks, a chattering stream, and 13 miles of trail attract backpackers, while archaeological finds dating back 4,000 years capture the interest of history buffs.

Contact: Ledges State Park, (515) 432-1852; www.state.ia.us/government/dnr/organiza/ppd/ledges.htm.