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Is Backcountry Camping Right for Me?    

Tap into your adventurous side this summer and get away from it all by booking a backcountry campsite in Iowa’s beautiful Loess Hills.

We’ll be honest: Backcountry camping is not for everyone, but that’s ok! If you prefer more modern amenities with your camping experience or require more accessible facilities, Pottawattamie Conservation has something for everyone this summer. Check out our individual park pages for details on cabin stays and tent and RV campsites with shower house access.


Let’s start this off with a little quiz:

  1. Are you the kind of person who enjoys a challenge?

  2. Are you passionate about Leave No Trace and other environmental ethics?

  3. Can you get by without access to modern amenities such as running water or restrooms?

  4. Are you willing and able to physically carry all of your camping gear to and from your campsite (approximately .5 to 1+ miles depending on the site)?

  5. Are you looking for an opportunity to get away from it all and reconnect with nature?

  6. Did you answer yes to all of the above?


If you did, then backcountry camping is perfect for you! Explore our seven backcountry campsites, all located at Hitchcock Nature Center for $10 per night, and reconnect to your roots with Pottawattamie Conservation.

Some friendly and important reminders:

  • Backcountry campers must carry out and properly dispose of all trash when they vacate their campsite.
  • Wheeled vehicles including luggage, wagons,  bicycles, and coolers with wheels are NOT ALLOWED on trails in order to transport your camping gear, food, water, or trash. This important rule helps reduce human impact on the fragile Loess Hills landform, which is highly erodible.
  • To reiterate: ALL camping gear including food, water, and trash must be physically carried in and out from parking areas to your campsite, which may be a .5-mile to more than 1-mile hike. Please plan accordingly. Thank you!

 

Backcountry Camping Cheat Sheet:

Best for groups:

  • Campsite #5 Badger Ridge (two tent sites)
  • Campsite #6 Shea Way (four tent sites, three hammock sites)
  • Campsite #7 Heritage (three hammock sites; tents are also welcome, but there is no camping pad)

Best for campers looking for a challenge:

  • Campsite #3 Cottonwood (approximate 1.4-mile hike in/out with steep terrain)
  • Campsite #4 High Point (approximate 1.6-mile hike in/out with steep terrain)

Best views:

  • Campsite #1 Hohneke Pond (exposed view of Hohneke Pond and surrounding prairie and woodlands)
  • Campsite #2 Fox Run Ridge (short hike to semi-covered view of Missouri River Valley)
  • Campsite #3 Cottonwood (semi-covered view of Missouri River Valley)
  • Campsite #4 High Point (exposed view of Missouri River Valley)

 

Please note that all campsites are located off of hiking trails and park visitors may be in close proximity to your site. Please see below to get an idea of which sites offer more privacy.


Backcountry Campsite #1- Hohneke Pond

Hohneke Pond Backcountry Site

  • Single tent camping pad and fire ring
  • Moderate terrain hike, approximately 1-mile from the main parking area near the Loess Hills Lodge
  • Classic oak savanna setting and located adjacent to Hohneke Pond
  • Slightly offset from main trail for privacy

 

Backcountry Campsite #2 Fox Run Ridge

Fox Run Ridge Backcountry Campsite

  • Single tent camping pad and fire ring
  • Easy terrain hike, less than 1 mile from the main parking area near the Loess Hills Lodge
  • Classic oak savanna setting with nearby views of the Missouri River Valley
  • Directly off of the main trail with minimal privacy

 

Backcountry Campsite #3 Cottonwood

Cottonwood Backcountry Campsite

  • Single tent camping pad and fire ring
  • Challenging terrain hike, approximately 1.4 miles from the main parking area near the Loess Hills Lodge
  • Westernmost ridge of the park with expansive views of the Missouri River Valley
  • Offset from the main trail for privacy

 

Backcountry Campsite #4 High Point

High Point Backcountry Campsite

  • Single tent campsite with camping pad and fire ring
  • Challenging terrain hike, located approximately 1.6 miles from the main parking lot at the Loess Hills Lodge
  • Westernmost ridge overlooking the Missouri River Valley with the most expansive views in the park
  • Directly off of the main trail with minimal privacy

 

Backcountry Campsite #5 Badger Ridge

Badger Ridge Backcountry Campsite

  • Two-tent campsite with larger camping pads and fire ring
  • Moderate terrain hike, located approximately 0.75 miles from the main parking lot at the Loess Hills Lodge
  • On the border between expansive remnant prairie and Loess Hills woodlands
  • Directly off of the main trail with minimal privacy

 

Backcountry Campsite #6 Shea Way

Shea Way Backcountry Campsite

  • Four-tent & three-hammock campsite with single camping pads, central anchor hammock post, fire ring, & adjacent covered shelter
  • Moderate terrain hike, located approximately 0.5-mile from the main parking lot at the Loess Hills Lodge
  • Loess Hills woodlands setting
  • Directly off of the main trail with minimal privacy

 

Backcountry Campsite #7 Heritage

Heritage Backcountry Campsite

  • Three-hammock campsite with central anchor hammock post and fire ring; tents are also welcome but there is no camping pad available at this location
  • Moderate terrain hike, located approximately 0.65 miles from the main parking lot at the Loess Hills Lodge
  • Loess Hills woodlands setting
  • Slightly offset from the main trail for some privacy

 

“In a cool solitude of trees, where leaves and birds a music spin, mind that was weary is at ease, new rhythms in the soul begin.”

– William Kean Seymour.

Fox Run Ridge, view
View of Missouri River Valley from Fox Run Ridge trail.
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