Maquoketa Caves Set to Fully Reopen April 15th
Iowa's iconic Maquoketa Caves State Park has been closed for over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and the winter bat hibernation.
Iowa DNR announced that the park will be fully reopened tomorrow, April 15th, 2021.
The cave system in Maquoketa is the largest cave system in the state, and the park offers gorgeous scenery and unique geological formations.
Iowa DNR shared some tips for visiting after the reopening, because they're expecting some high traffic in the area:
- Parking is limited. With less than 150 parking spots and as many as 1,500 people coming to the park on a summer weekend day, park staff recommend visiting mid-week or avoiding the peak window of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Parking will only be allowed in designated spots for the safety of visitors and to protect natural areas. If parking spots are not available, please come back at a later time.
- Same-day camping now an option. Campers to Maquoketa Caves can now reserve as late as the day they plan to visit, with 100 percent of campsites reservable. The campground was recently renovated to offer more modern amenities. To find links for camping reservations, visit: www.iowadnr.gov/maquoketacaves
- Learn from interpreters. In summer months, naturalists offer programming on a variety of outdoor topics. If entering the caves, upon your arrival plan on attending a short, required program about White Nosed Bat Syndrome and how you can prevent its spread.
- In the time of COVID, be ready for enclosed stairways and boardwalks. Exploring Maquoketa Caves involves a boardwalk system with enclosed railings in some places, along with several staircases and limited walkways. Please be mindful of other visitors by keeping social distances as much as possible. Wash your hands and stay home if you are sick.
- Explore the stars of the show. The main draws to Maquoketa Caves are its natural features and caves. Highlights include the Natural Bridge, a towering arch 50 feet above Raccoon Creek; Balanced Rock, a 17-ton rock formation that defies gravity; and Dancehall Cave; the largest cave in Iowa’s park system, reaching more than 1,000 feet in length with a sidewalk and LED lights. Plus visit several unique caves and scenic views on the park’s six-mile long trail system.
- Make the most of your trip. If the caves are busy, you can also visit a few nearby attractions to fully enjoy your trip. Explore the charming town of Maquoketa, or learn about nature at Jackson County’s Hurstville Interpretive Center. Three other state parks are within a 30-45 minute drive: Bellevue State Park offers breathtaking views of the Mississippi River; Mines of Spain State Recreation Area features historic sites and hiking; and Wapsipinicon State Park near Anamosa, showcases the historic 1800s-era Hale Bridge and walking path. "
To find out more about the Maquoketa Caves, be sure to visit the DNR's website.