Need campsite recommendations between Iowa City and Sioux Falls

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Nov 5, 2019
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Durham NC
During September of this year I’ll be driving from NC to Hoosier National Forest and on to Wall, SD and be passing through Iowa and Minnesota on the path shown below. These two states don’t seem to have a NF where I would prefer to camp the night. I know that I could likely find truck stops or WM’s to spend the nights but would rather stay at a campsite even if I needed to pay a bit for it. If any of you have tips for a few sites between, say, Iowa City and Sioux Falls that you could recommend I’d sure appreciate it. Many thanks!

I checked freecampsites but this route shows mostly a few city parks and truck stops listed.

AllStays is new to me. The app is IOS but I can use the website on my PC and Android to view the maps. It looks very promising. Thanks!
I haven't stayed in Iowa, but there appears to be several sites in the area of Mason City.

I think there are some casino's along that route, mostly tribal, if I recall, many have campsites or overnight camping/stays on their property.

Good luck!
Thanks for all of the tips, my friends. AllStays is giving me a lot of ideas, I had no idea there would be so many county parks in IA and MN.
I've never done a road trip of this nature so am not sure how long I can drive in one day and still enjoy myself. I am thinking I would need to start looking for a site a few hours (at least) before I wanted to stop for the day. I'd like to have some hours of sunlight left in the day to relax and enjoy my surroundings.
I stayed at county and city campgrounds much of my way west the end of May.

Some are really lovely, others more utilitarian, but all were safe, and driving across Iowa is actually quite lovely.

It’s a beautiful state, the hills roll and fields will be filled with crops this time of year.

I try to plan where I will stay at least by morning of each travel day, and calling ahead to make sure there are vacancies is a good idea.
I know that I could likely find truck stops or WM’s to spend the nights but would rather stay at a campsite even if I needed to pay a bit for it.
I used to have a lot of anxiety about parking overnight on road trips. Some planning is necessary with the height requirements and limited maneuverability of a big rig. In the RV, my favorite place to park are Boondocker's Welcome locations (there are many along your route). Most places are easy to get to and can accommodate large vehicles. Once there, there's usually something interesting to do. Eating at the restaurant, visiting the museum, or putting out the awning and enjoying a bottle of wine. Travel days are shorter in the RV so having something to do with the rest of the day is nice.

What I've learned when road tripping in the van is that it can park almost anywhere. The amount of planning needed is minimal. At dinner I decide how much longer I want to drive and determine what area that will put me in. I then use the satellite view on Google Maps to identify a couple of apartment complexes, hospitals, and the municipal airport (if there is one). Those are my favorite places to overnight when I am passing thru a small town. If I'm staying in a larger town, I like to street park in the downtown area, it is usually pretty deserted at night.

I am looking for a quiet, safe spot where I won't be a nuisance. Once I let go of my preconceived idea that this was hard, it was easy.
When I am traveling I usually start looking for a place around 4:00 so I can find a place while the sun is still shining. This allows me a couple of hours to eat, clean up, and maybe shop a little before bed.
I'll be traveling in my Toyota Sienna, so even if I can't find a campsite at a NF I can still probably locate a dispersed site. In the states without a NF, I am hoping to locate a county park that has openings.
I'm paying attention to this post, since I'm going a similar route around the same time as Oldwolf. The only difference being that I am headed easterly to Asheville NC.
By day #3 I can be in the areas between Davenport and Souix City, IA traveling on I-80.
There seem to be quite a few county parks to choose from but am wondering if anyone has stayed in this area and recommend one to me.

I'm from Moline in the Quad Cities and grew up camping on the Rock River in Joslin. That campground is out of your way, but...

I camped at Scott County Park with my kids several times and loved it. But, that was 25+ years ago. From the photos, it appears very nice still. I tent camped so it was quiet and private, but the main campground was pretty full. It is a popular campground. Big swimming pool and a Pioneer Village next to the park. It's located just north of Davenport in Eldridge (close to I-80).
Also camped fairly often at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve in Andalusia, Illinois. If you look at a map of the Quad Cities, you can see that I-280 goes around the QC to the west. I-80 goes around the QC to the east. So if you take I-280 it will put you pretty close to Andalusia and Loud Thunder. Loud Thunder shouldn't be crowded at all.
Then there are the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds outside Iowa City in Coralville. All look very well kept., the Maquoketa Caves and campground are very popular, but that is 30 miles north of Scott County Park in Eldridge, IA (see above).
Edit: Forgot about Illiniwek Forest Preserve. It is right off of I-80 just before you cross the Mississippi River into Iowa. My brother camped there often and I stopped by his campsite once. IIRC, it seemed crowded. I never camped there, but went sledding there as a kid. Maybe check it out, since it is right off I-80.
I think Army Corps of Engineers has campgrounds in/or near the Quad Cities, too. They weren't there when I was growing up, but I'm pretty sure I saw them on the USACE website.
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Carla618, thanks for all the Iowa tips. I have been reading through many of them. Seems most are electric only sites. I don't reall need that for my minivan but I'll keep looking though Allstay.
Carla618, thanks for all the Iowa tips. I have been reading through many of them. Seems most are electric only sites. I don't reall need that for my minivan but I'll keep looking though Allstay.
I'm sorry. I should have read through your initial post better. I'll try to think of more places.

Off hand, after passing through Davenport you will come to the world's largest truck stop. It is more than a truck stop today. Truck stops are fun. IIRC, this one has a museum now.

Haven't been there in many years. It used to be a Flying J.
Also, a few years ago I stopped at a really cool rest area near Cedar Rapids. It is a tribute to Grant Wood. You can do a search for Grant Wood rest stop.

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