Bridges of Madison County

Trip Planning

Two Incredible Places to Camp in Iowa: Bridges of Madison County & The Grotto of the Redemption

The beautiful state of Iowa has so many awesome places to camp. Sara Broers shares her top two camp sites: Bridges of Madison County & The Grotto of the Redemption.

Iowa is my home state and there’s one thing that is for certain, there’s always something exciting to see. You can find wide open spaces and experiences that you can only find in Iowa. When we camp with our travel trailer, we find some of the best places for stargazing. Winterset, Iowa, is home to the world-famous Bridges of Madison County. The nighttime sky viewing is incredible at the sites of the covered bridges. You will want to make Winterset your home base when you are exploring the Bridges of Madison County.

The Winterset City Park Campground, 22 miles south of I-80, includes 40 campsites with 50/30/15-amp electric service, water, sewer hook-ups, fire rings, picnic tables, shower/restroom building, and 5 tent sites. All campsites are level, making it an easy place to park your RV for your camping experience in Madison County. We love the fact that this campground lies next to Winterset City Park. Clark Tower is also a nice hike from the campground, offering incredible views of the area.

Madison County is where you can drive the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. This 82-mile route focuses on the widely recognized bridges that are in Madison County. During June and July, you can experience the colorful wildflowers that seem to dot the prairie. Five of the six remaining bridges in Madison County are on the National Register of Historic Places. Cedar Covered Bridge is the only remaining bridge that you can still drive through. Each of the bridges brings a unique view and takes you back in time when covered bridges were in abundance. If you are towing a travel trailer, be sure to drop it at the campground before you take to this scenic byway. Parts of the route are on curvy, gravel roads making it challenging to tow a trailer.

Another beautiful place to camp in Iowa is West Bend. This is where you can camp near the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” The Grotto of the Redemption. The Grotto of the Redemption was placed on the national Register of Historic Places in 2001 and one glimpse of this creation will tell you why. The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption is the largest man-made Grotto in the world. Stroll through this masterpiece and enjoy the beauty that Rev. Paul Dobberstein created for all of us to enjoy. Whether you are a spiritual person or not, this incredible work of art will leave you with your jaw dropped.

My favorite campground sits right across the road from the Grotto of the Redemption, and not surprisingly, it’s called the Grotto Campground. You may need a reservation to stay so give them a call, 515-887-2371, to reserve a spot. If you don’t make a reservation in advance, call them anyway, they might have an open space. This campground will make you feel as though you are a part of the Grotto. With 53 campsites available, there’s a good chance you will find an open campsite. A shower house and restrooms are on site. Each campsite has 30/50-amp electric hookups with firewood available. In addition, there is a place to fill your water tank and a sewer dump station on the campgrounds. You can easily walk to the Grotto from your campsite in two minutes.

It’s so easy to experience Iowa in the great outdoors at these campgrounds. The historic covered bridges are something that Iowans pride themselves on and the Grotto is one of those places that everyone needs to visit at some point in their lifetime. If you are on your way to Yellowstone National Park coming from the east, there’s a good chance that Highway 18 in North Iowa will be your route. West Bend sits nine miles off Highway 18 in Western Iowa. Both of these Iowa camping experiences will leave you with a “love” of my home state.

Sara Broers

Travel Blogger

Sara Broers is a travel enthusiast living in northern Iowa. She is the CEO of Travel With Sara and the co-owner of the Midwest Travel Network. Sara is also a proud wife and mother of two grown sons. She and her husband live on their family farm and enjoy taking their RV on adventures whenever they can.