There’s nothing quite like camping. Pitching your tent; settling down for ghost stories around the campfire; and enjoying everything the wilderness has to offer. Pair all that with the beauty of the Loess Hills and you’ve got the perfect weekend!
Late summer is prime time for camping in the Council Bluffs area. Luckily, our region offers plenty of opportunities for exploring the outdoors, including hiking, biking, water sports, fishing, horseback riding and so much more. Below we’ve listed some of our favorite campsites within a two-hour drive of the city so enjoy—and don’t forget your s’mores supplies!
The Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek is a wonderland of things to do all year long. Not only do they offer fun hands-on activities for kids, but the park also features a 45-foot-tall observation tower that gives visitors a unique birds-eye view of the rolling hills. They are open every day of the year for outdoor activities like hiking, bird watching and camping—which you can do on one of their many primitive camping sites for a quiet evening in the Loess Hills. Learn more about each of their campsites and other outdoor amenities here.
Located just 14 miles south of Council Bluffs, the I-29 Highway 34 Campground is an RV campground offering a spectacular Loess Hills view along with several other fantastic amenities. They don’t currently allow tent camping, but do offer daily, weekly and monthly rates for recreational vehicles. In addition to the great location and view, visitors can enjoy modern facilities, free wireless internet, drive through parking, full hookups and more.
There are several ways you can camp at Arrowhead Park in Neola!They offer tent camping, RV camping, cozy and modern cabins, and you can rent their Breezy Lodge for your next event. Tent camping sites cost $10 per night per tent, while RV spots are $20 per night. Camping at Arrowhead Park is only available from April through November each year, so make sure to get your trip in before the season ends!
A favorite local campground in Glenwood, the Glenwood Lake Park Campground offers both tent camping spots as well as full service and 30–amp sites. In addition to campsites, the campground is also home to fishing spots, a walking trail, playgrounds and shelters that are available for rent. While you’re there, don’t miss the Mills County Historical Museum or the Davies Amphitheater for some family-friendly entertainment! You can find their nightly and weekly rates here, but campsites are on a first-come-first-served basis.
Located halfway between Omaha and Lincoln, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is a popular outdoorsy retreat for eastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa residents. There are two campgrounds with 149 camping pads and plenty of space for grassy tent camping as well. If you’re looking for more of a glamping experience, consider booking one of the private cabins or a room at the Peter Kiewit Lodge—which features 40 guest rooms overlooking the scenic Platte River Valley.
Botna Bend Park is a favorite for Iowa tent and RV campers who enjoy a small-town atmosphere! This quiet, beautiful park is located next to the Nishnabotna River, offering camping, river access, hiking trails, volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits, a playground, and much more. The biggest draw to Botna Bend, however, is the pastures of bison and elk located nearby! Click here for more information.
The Louisville State Recreation Area encompasses 192 acres (including 50 acres of water), and is filled with towering cottonwood trees, shaded docks, grassy shorelines and wildlife. It truly is an idyllic place to spend the weekend! Activities in this area include biking, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, hiking and so much more—and both RV and tent camping is available.
Outdoor enthusiasts rejoice—the Pierce Creek Recreation Area was made for you! This picturesque camping spot features eight primitive and 12 electrical sites, along with 10 miles of equestrian and hiking trails. There is also a 40-acre lake, a shelter house, a boat ramp, a public hunting area, a gun range and much more! For more information about the area or to check availability on your prospective camping dates, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featuring more than 100 acres of water for fishing, swimming and non-gas motor boating, Rapp Park and Recreation Area is the perfect destination for water-loving campers! On land, they have several sites for primitive and RV camping, as well as several miles of hiking trails. Please note: Rapp Park is currently undergoing development, which means there are no bathrooms or other modern amenities available. We recommend checking the county website for updates.
Dammann Campground in Shenandoah is the definition of a hidden gem. With no website or other major marketing around town, it’s hard to find out a lot about this campsite, other than the fact that online reviewers can’t stop raving about it! Visitors gush about the quiet landscape, the friendly owners and fishing in the lake. You can call the campground at (402) 250-6150 for more information.
Where do you like to camp near CB?
Let us know in the comments below!