Free state parks always seem a bit emptier than they should be

Last summer, on our way back from visiting our parents in Ohio and Indiana, Tad, the boys and I drove about an hour out of our way to swing by Maquoketa State Park.

Located about 25 miles west of the Mississippi River, Maquoketa is the best of the eastern Iowa topography – hilly and rocky, with lots of trees and, even better, caves. More than a dozen caves are open to the public and you can hike through there at no charge.

On a warm but not hot Sunday morning in early June it should have been full, right? It certainly was one of the busier Iowa state parks we’ve visited in the 3.5 years we’ve lived here, but for a park where you pay no entrance fee, it could have been busier.

That’s been our experience all over the state. We go to these parks with incredible views and trails, and find them nearly empty. Now, on the one hand, I’m not complaining – hiking is way more fun when you aren’t sharing the trail with anyone but your own group and the bugs and birds that live there. On the other hand, I sometimes wonder why more people who live here don’t take the time to visit some of the incredible resources we have. 

Read more in the July 11 edition.