Learn about the DNR's COVID-19 response and how the current health emergency is impacting DNR facilities, services and events.
State Park Pages have Moved

For a full listing of all Iowa State Parks, please visit: iowadnr.gov/iowastateparks, or find the park in the list below.

Please note that this page will be removed in the near future, so please update your bookmarks.

Waubonsie State Park
Equestrian Trails Closed: effective 3/05/2021 the equestrians trails have been closed due to wet conditions. This bulletin will be removed once they are opened again.
Camp Amenities and Modern Restrooms Closing on November 2, 2020 - Camping Still Available Waubonsie's seasonal modern restrooms, showers, and dump station will be closed on November 2nd, for the winter season. The Equestrian Area water will be shut off at the end of November. Camping is still available with electricity and community water hydrants. Four cabins and the WaShawtee Lodge are still available to rent, but please review COVID19 restrictions prior to making a reservation. All facilities will be open again by April 15th, 2021 or as weather allows.


 Waubonsie State Park Forest Stewardship Plan

Facilities and Activities

Waubonsie is a great place for a family picnic. A scenic open picnic shelter may be reserved online through the park reservation system.

The campground includes several electrical hookups, modern shower and rest room facilities, and a trailer dump station. The equestrian campground also contains several campsites and non-modern rest room facilities. Advance campsite reservations can be made online through the park reservation system. One fourth of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There are 7 miles of foot trails and 8 miles of equestrian trails winding along windswept ridges down into gorges and valleys. Waubonsie offers the hiker a wonderful experience. The scenery along the trails is incomparable. The horseback rider will likewise enjoy the trails and the opportunity to use the equestrian campground. The Sunset Ridge Interpretive Trail provides visitors a chance to learn about many of the park's important plants and trees, as well as enjoy some tremendous views. Waubonsie State Park is a site on the national Lewis and Clark Historical Trail.  There are two major Rails-to-Trails located within 20 miles of the park.  One is the 86 mile Wabash Trace trail that can be accessed in the nearby towns of Shenandoah, Imogene, Malvern and the second trail is a 20 mile Steamboat Trace trail that can be accessed near Nebraska City.  

Wa-Shawtee Addition
In 2005 the former Wa-Shawtee Girl Scout Camp (642-acres) was purchased as an addition to Waubonsie State Park. This greatly expanded the types of recreational opportunities available in the park to include fishing, seasonal and year-round cabin accommodations, youth group camp and a year-round day-use rental lodge. A new road now connects Waubonsie and Wa-Shawtee. Eventually Wa-Shawtee will have two additional family cabins.

Most of the buildings that formerly served as staff living quarters in the Wa-Shawtee camp have been remodeled into rental modern family cabins and camping cabins. Two year-round family cabins are available that vary in size from two-bedroom (Mischanaka[3] and three-bedroom (Shagbark[1]).  There is a studio family cabin (Kahiga[2]) available through the normal recreation season.  All have kitchens, bathrooms, heat and air-conditioning as well as stone fireplaces.

Five camping cabins are also available, two are year-round and are quite spacious. The 1400 square-foot Windy Knoll[6] camping cabin sleeps 10. Windy Knoll is ADA accessible, but the restroom for the cabin is not.  The 800 square-foot Chinquapin[5] camping cabin sleeps 4. Amenities include full heating and air conditioning, a kitchenette (microwave & refrigerator - no running water - water available outside), comfortable furniture, wood fireplaces, beautiful hardwood floors, outdoor fire rings and grills. Three other smaller camping cabins (Administration[4], Hide Away[9], and Cook's Cabin[8]) are also available but only through the normal recreation season. They have air-conditioning but no heat. Restroom and shower facilities for all camping cabins are available in the Waubonsie campground; quaint outhouses also accompany each camping cabin. All of these cabins can be reserved online through the park reservation system. In the future, two more cabins are slated to be remodeled as modern family cabins with full restroom facilities.

Day-Use Lodge
The Washawtee lodge is available for group rentals year-round.

Visitors to Waubonsie can now enjoy access to Wa-Shawtee's peaceful little fishing pond, the seven-acre Lake Virginia. The lake which boasts a good stock of channel catfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill is also a great opportunity for canoeists and kayakers. Onsite parking is available with boat ramp access. Regulations include an Electric Motor Only restriction.

Blackburn State Park Unit
Explore the nearby Blackburn State Park Unit, which covers 72 acres of Loess hills prairie and woodland ridge tops and valleys. Located about 16 miles north of Waubonsie and adjacent to nearly 500 acres of public wildlife area, this property makes a great place for bird and wildlife viewing. Amenities at Blackburn include a two-mile hiking trail, shelter, picnic tables, fire ring and pit latrine. Blackburn State Park Unit was donated in 2019 by William and Sara Blackburn.

Other Nearby Recreation Sites
Riverton Wildlife Area is 6 miles east of the park in Iowa and also provides opportunities to view wildlife.

Lewis and Clark Historical Trail - Waubonsie State Park is a site on this national historic trail.

Forney Lake is only 15 miles away on the scenic bluff road, and is nationally known for the thousands of geese that stop annually to feed and rest on their migrating route.

Waubonsie is located in the unique "Loess Hills," a landform found only along the Missouri River in Iowa and Missouri and in China. As glaciers melted 14,000 to 28,000 years ago, the Missouri River became a major channel for huge volumes of water and sediment during the summer. In winter, the volume of the meltwater was reduced, leaving the deposited sediments exposed to the wind. These sediments of silt, clay and very fine sand particles called "loess", were then carried by strong westerly winds and deposited when these winds encountered the steep slopes of the east valley wall.

Waubonsie is a key feature of the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway which is a road touring route and it is being developed and posted for bicycle traffic as well. 

There are several distinctive features of loess hills topography. Because of the fine texture of the soil, deep, steep-sided and very narrow ridge tops have been eroded in the hills. Small, step-like terraces called "cat steps" resulting from repeated slipping of the soil can be seen on many west-facing slopes. Since the soil drains rapidly, nearly vertical cuts can be made in the soil without erosion. The unique topography of the park resembles the "badlands" of the west and harbors plants like the yucca which are normally found in more arid climates.

Named for Chief Waubonsie of the Native American Pottawattamie tribe, the park is much the same today as it was when it was purchased in 1926. The changing seasons complement the beauty of this countryside. Spring brings the blossoms of dozens of varieties of flowers and shrubs. Summer beckons with cooling breezes on the high places and in shady glens. Nowhere in Iowa are there more brilliant splashes of color than at Waubonsie in the fall, and in the winter the bluffs and ridges are sometimes beautifully blanketed with snow.

Nearby Towns
Sidney is 6 miles north and is Iowa's largest continuous outdoor rodeo and is held during July. Hamburg is 9 miles south of the park. Nebraska City is 9 miles west across the Missouri River in Nebraska and is the home of J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day. His home is now a museum at Arbor Lodge State Park in Nebraska.

Nearby Lakes

Lake Virginia
West Nishnabotna River
East Nishnabotna River
Waubonsie Access Lake
Percival Lake


Within park
Bicycling, Boat Launch Ramp, Boating, Cabins, Camping - Electric, Camping - Equestrian, Camping - Nonelectric, Camping Cabins, Cross Country Skiing, Day-use Lodge, Dump Station, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Picnic Area, Picnic Shelter, Playground, Restrooms, Scenic Driving Routes, Showers, Snowmobiling, Trails, Cross Country Skiing, Trails, Equestrian, Trails, Hiking, Trails, Snowmobile, Wildflower Viewing, Wildlife Viewing

Less than a mile
More than a mile
Church, Dining, Fuel, Vehicles, Grocery Store, Hunting

Iowa's State Parks and Forests
State Park County City Reservation Information
Ambrose A. Call State Park Kossuth County Algona Reservation Information - Ambrose A. Call
Backbone State Park Delaware County Dundee Reservation Information - Backbone
Badger Creek State Recreation Area Madison County Van Meter No reservable facilities
Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park Warren County Carlisle No reservable facilities
Beeds Lake State Park Franklin County Hampton Reservation Information - Beeds Lake
Bellevue State Park Jackson County Bellevue Reservation Information - Bellevue
Big Creek State Park Polk County Polk City Reservation Information - Big Creek
Blackburn State Park Fremont County Thurman City No reservable facilities
Black Hawk State Park Sac County Lake View Reservation Information - Black Hawk
Brushy Creek State Recreation Area Webster County Lehigh Reservation Information - Brushy Creek
Cedar Rock Buchanan County Independence No reservable facilities
Clear Lake State Park Cerro Gordo County Clear Lake Reservation Information - Clear Lake
Dolliver Memorial State Park Webster County Lehigh Reservation Information - Dolliver
Elinor Bedell State Park Dickinson County Spirit Lake Reservation Information - Dickinson
Elk Rock State Park Marion County Knoxville Reservation Information - Elk Rock
Emerson Bay State Recreation Area Dickinson County Milford Reservation Information - Emerson Bay
Fairport State Recreation Area Muscatine County Muscatine Reservation Information - Fairport
Fort Atkinson State Preserve Winneshiek County Fort Atkinson No reservable facilities
Fort Defiance State Park Emmet County Estherville Reservation Information - Fort Defiance
Geode State Park Henry County Danville Reservation Information - Geode
George Wyth State Park Black Hawk County Waterloo Reservation Information - George Wyth
Green Valley State Park Union County Creston Reservation Information - Green Valley
Gull Point State Park Dickinson County Milford Reservation Information - Gull Point
Honey Creek Resort Appanoose County Moravia Reservation Information - Honey Creek Resort
Honey Creek State Park Appahoose County Moravia Reservation Information - Honey Creek
Lacey Keosauqua State Park Van Buren County Keosauqua Reservation Information - Lacey Keosauqua
Lake Ahquabi State Park Warren County Indianola Reservation Information - Lake Ahquabi
Lake Anita State Park Cass County Anita Reservation Information - Lake Anita
Lake Darling State Park Washington County Brighton Reservation Information - Lake Darling
Lake Keomah State Park Mahaska County Oskaloosa Reservation Information - Lake Keomah
Lake Macbride State Park Johnson County Solon Reservation Information - Lake Macbride
Lake Manawa State Park Pottawattamie County Council Bluffs Reservation Information - Lake Manawa
Lake of Three Fires State Park Taylor County Bedford Reservation Information - Lake of Three Fires
Lake Wapello State Park Davis County Drakesville Reservation Information - Lake Wapello
Ledges State Park Boone County Madrid Reservation Information - Ledges
Lewis and Clark State Park Monona County Onawa Reservation Information - Lewis and Clark
Lower Gar State Recreation Area Dickinson County Arnolds Park No reservable facilities
Loess Hills State Forest HarrisonCounty Pisgah No reservable facilities
Maquoketa Caves State Park Jackson County Maquoketa Reservation Information - Maquoketa Caves
Marble Beach State Recreation Area Dickinson County Orleans Reservation Information - Marble Beach
McIntosh Woods State Park Cerro Gordo County Ventura Reservation Information - McIntosh Woods
Mines of Spain State Rec Area Dubuque County Dubuque No reservable facilities
Mini-Wakan State Park Dickinson County Spirit Lake No reservable facilities
Nine Eagles State Park Decatur County Davis City Reservation Information - Nine Eagles
Okamanpedan State Park Emmet County Dolliver No reservable facilities
Palisades-Kepler State Park Linn County Mt. Vernon Reservation Information - Palisades-Kepler
Pikes Peak State Park Clayton County McGregor Reservation Information - Pikes Peak
Pikes Point State Park Dickinson County Spirit Lake Reservation Information - Pikes Point
Pilot Knob State Park Hancock County Forest City Reservation Information - Pilot Knob
Pine Lake State Park Hardin County Eldora Reservation Information - Pine Lake
Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area Linn County Palo Reservation Information - Pleasant Creek
Prairie Rose State Park Shelby County Harlan Reservation Information - Prairie Rose
Preparation Canyon State Park Monona County Moorhead No reservable facilities
Red Haw State Park Lucas County Chariton Reservation Information - Red Haw
Rice Lake State Park Winnebago County Lake Mills No reservable facilities
Rock Creek State Park Jasper County Kellogg Reservation Information - Rock Creek
Shimek State Forest Van Buren County Farmington Reservation Information - Shimek
Springbrook State Park Guthrie County Guthrie Center Reservation Information - Springbroook
Stephens State Forest Lucas County Lucas Reservation Information - Stephens
Stone State Park Woodbury County Sioux City Reservation Information - Stone
Templar State Recreation Area Dickinson County Spirit Lake Reservation Information - Templar
Trappers Bay State Park Dickinson County Spirit Lake No reservable facilities
Twin Lakes State Park Calhoun County Rockwell City Reservation Information - Twin Lakes
Union Grove State Park Tama County Gladbrook Reservation Information - Union Grove
Viking Lake State Park Montgomery County Stanton Reservation Information - Viking Lake
Volga River State Recreation Area Fayette County Fayette Reservation Information - Volga River
Walnut Woods State Park Polk County West Des Moines Reservation Information - Walnut Woods
Wapsipinicon State Park Jones County Anamosa Reservation Information - Wapsipinicon
Waubonsie State Park Fremont County Hamburg Reservation Information - Waubonsie
Wildcat Den State Park Muscatine County Muscatine Reservation Information - Wildcat Den
Wilson Island State Recreation Area Pottawattamie County Missouri Valley Reservation Information - Wilson Island
Yellow River State Forest Allamakee County Harpers Ferry Reservation Information - Yellow River