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Maquoketa Caves State Park, Maquoketa

#4 of 55 in Nature in Iowa
Must see · State Park · Nature / Park
Maquoketa Caves State Park is a state park of Iowa, US, located in Jackson County. It stands northwest of the city of Maquoketa. In 1991 on the east side of the park was listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
The park contains more caves than any other state park in Iowa. A trail system links the caves, formations, and overlooks while providing a scenic hiking experience. Many areas on these trails have seen new construction, making the journey to the caves safer. Most of the caves may be entered by persons of average physical ability, but some are more advanced. However the park's caves were closed to humans between 2010 and April 2012 in the hopes of protecting the resident bats from white nose syndrome.
The park is in the Driftless Area of Iowa. This region escaped being glaciated in the last ice age, while regions to the east and west were not spared. The park has been subjected to hundreds of thousands of years of natural non-glacial erosion.
The park's caves, limestone formations and rugged bluffs represent a step back in geological time of thousands of years. Stalactites once hung from the ceilings and stalagmites rose from the floor. Souvenir hunters have robbed the caves of this rare beauty, but many formations remain. The park's limestone caves, arches and chimneys including Dancehall Cave, Hernado's Hideaway, Shinbone Cave, Wye Cave, and an unmarked cave within the Dancehall Cavern locally known as Steelgate Cave.
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Maquoketa Caves State Park reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
207 reviews
  • We arrived to view the fall leaves. Trails were open. Caves were closed. The trails are well groomed and lovely. The woods and hills wind around the state park and caves. We especially enjoyed the...  more »
  • You only have to walk a short distance before you'll see sights that make you go wow. Cave currently closed as some handrails are broken due to storm damage but most people were going in anyway and....  more »
  • Beautiful scenery. Numerous caves suitable for varying levels of experience. Well-maintained trails and helpful staff. Clean & orderly campground. Busy, since it's a popular attraction. A wristband is required to visit the caves which is only available on weekends. To get the wristband you just need to listen to a short lecture about how White Nose Syndrome affects the hibernating bat population and how to avoid spreading it.
  • Beautiful hike through an amazing cave system. The trail going through is easy. We brought a 2 year old, 9 year old and I’m 8 months pregnant. There are tougher caves to crawl through if you want. Also, very helpful staff at the welcome center and the lower pavilion. Best of all it’s free! Great family adventure on a Sunday afternoon.

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