Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

One Tank Trip for Iowa Camping

Total mileage / average drive time:
138 miles – 2 hours, 50 minutes

Surrounded by six states, Iowa lies in the heart of the Midwest, with much of the state devoted to agriculture. But wait, don’t count Iowa out! Iowa is also filled with incredible scenic landscapes, prairies, woodlands and historic trails offering some amazing opportunities for outdoor lovers.

West Branch
Today we’re going to start in West Branch, located just east of Iowa City. West Branch is the birthplace of Herbert Hoover and at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library/Museum, you can explore his birthplace cottage as well as several other tidbits from the past like a blacksmith shop, a one room school house, the presidential grave site and a wonderfully restored 76-acre tall-grass prairie. It might surprise you that Iowa once had several wineries in its past before Prohibition came to town and recently, there has been a trek back to growing and producing wines like the ones you’ll find at Brick Arch Winery. Go ahead, take the tour, have a taste and stock up on a few of your favorites!

Cedar Rapids
35.8 miles – 40 minutes
Head out of town via I-80W and hook a right at I-380N for the 35.8 mile trip to our next location, Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second largest city. As a city full of history and culture, you’re sure to find more than a few activities and sites to keep you well occupied like a visit to the home of Grant Wood, creator of the famous “American Gothic” portrait or make your way to the Hawkeye Downs Speedway for some heart-thumping racing or discover the beauty of the Czech culture in the New Bohemia district of downtown. One of the most popular destinations in the area is Brucemore, a Queen Anne-style mansion set amidst 26-acres. There are tours, exhibits and garden walks aplenty and if you’re lucky enough, you can time your visit to coincide with one of the many music festivals or outdoor theatre events that take place here. For the outdoorsy type, Cedar Rapids is home to 20 beautiful courses to tee up at and is within 45 minutes to at least 40 more, so practice your swing before you get here! For hiking and cross-country skiing, head to Cedar Greenbelt National Recreation Trail where you’ll have at least 210-acres of exceptional nature preserve to wander through. In fact, you’ll find a wealth of trails throughout the area to keep you in shape and your appetite going.

28.1 miles – 44 minutes
Let’s jump back on I-380N, merging onto US-151N for the approximate 30 mile trip into Anamosa. This picturesque town lies amidst some of the most beautiful and richest landscape in the state and is surrounded by rolling green hills and scenic views of the Wapsipinicon River, famously immortalized in the works of Anamosa’s favorite son, Grant Wood. In downtown, you’ll find the Grant Wood Art Gallery, which features several historic photos of the artist, his artist colony and many other interesting items. Not far, you’ll find another interesting site, the Anamosa Penitentiary Museum. This historic stone structure displays a wealth of historical information on Iowa’s largest correction facility and its 137-year history of prison life. If you manage to keep from getting locked in the pen during your visit, head to Wapsipinicon area for a breath of fresh air and a trek on the multi-use trails here, perfect for a variety of activities from hiking to snowmobiling. Or grab your bait and tackle and try your hand at fishing for catfish, crappie or bullheads. Mmmm—you can almost smell them cooking!

74.5 miles – 1 hour, 26 minutes
From Anamosa let’s make our way to Waterloo by backtracking on US-151 heading south this time and when you arrive at I-380, head north for the 74.5 mile trip into Waterloo. We can start exploring downtown where you’ll find a wealth of museums at your fingertips, like the Dan Gable Wrestling Institute and Museum or the Waterloo Center for the Arts. At the Grout Museum of History and Science, you’ll find a wonderful collection of items stretching back from 1833 or take a John Deere Tractor Assembly Tour and watch a tractor being built from start to finish. It will make you feel like a kid again! No matter where you choose to start, you’ll find downtown Waterloo to be a vibrant, diverse area. For the outdoor enthusiast, head to Cedar Valley Trails where you can get your feel of the 106 miles of hard surfaced trails that loop through peaceful wooded areas along the lakes and streams and into the downtown entertainment district, so you can feel better about ordering dessert later at one of the many exquisite restaurants!

Check out the 2011 One Tank Trip For Iowa
Check out the 2010 One Tank Trip For Iowa
Woodall's Recommended Campgrounds in Iowa

Back to One Tank Trips for 2012