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Preparation Canyon State Park

Preparation Canyon State Park, in the heart of the Loess Hills in western Iowa, encompasses 344 acres, including what used to be the town of Preparation. Today, Preparation Canyon is a quiet enclave offering backcountry hiking, picnicking and beautiful views of the unique Loess Hills.


Learn the history of Preparation Canyon State Park. In 1853, Charles B. Thompson broke from the Utah-bound Mormon wagon trail and settled in this area. At one point, Preparation had sixty-seven houses, a school, newspaper, post office, skating rink and blacksmith shop. But by 1900, the town had all but faded away. The land was sold by descendents of the original settlers to the state of Iowa in parcels during the mid-20th century and became the state park.

Picnic while taking in the breathtaking landscape of the Loess Hills. Preparation Canyon State Park is the perfect place for picnics and family cookouts complete with picnic tables and a shelter.

Hike on one of the several trails that wind through the rugged Loess Hills. The backcountry trails follow hills and valleys, leading to a nature study area and the hike-in camping sites. Hikers should be prepared for rough terrain and loose soil with sturdy hiking shoes and appropriate gear.

Camp in one of ten hike-in camping sites, which are some of the only hike-in sites in the Iowa state park system. The trailhead to the hike-in sites is located in the southeast corner of the park. The sites each have a table and fire ring, but no bathroom facilities. Registration is on a first-come first-served basis with self-registration in the east parking lot.

Preparation Canyon State Park
206 Polk Street, P.O. Box 158
Pisgah, IA 51564


  • Pit toilets
  • Shelter
  • Trails
  • Hike-In campsites
  • Nature study area