The 11 Best Midwest Camping & RV Spots (By State!)

 The 11 Best Midwest Camping & RV Spots (By State!)

The best Midwest camping offers everything an outdoorsman loves: hiking, fishing, sightseeing, and taking in American beauty.

The Midwest has gotten a bad rap as boring or “vanilla.” People often picture flatlands with unchanging sightlines, but that’s not the case…

You don’t want to miss out on visiting this natural wonderland!

Covered in lakes, rivers, and other natural waterways, the Midwest boasts some of America's most gorgeous wetlands. Add in hiking, national monuments and parks, and you have wonderful destinations for any age. 

The Best Midwest Camping Destinations

The Midwest is covered in natural beauty. From caves and cliff hikes to all kinds of water activities, the Midwest is a natural playground for those seeking adventure.

I have outlined the 11 best Midwest camping destinations by state to go along with my suggestions for best road trips for the Midwest

North Dakota

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Grahams Island State Park

Located on Devil’s Lake’s ever-changing shore is a hidden treasure called Grahams Island State Park.

The island has dense forests and has miles of lakeshore. The natural paradise offers plenty of shade for campsites.

Grahams Island State Park is known for its world-class fishing, hosting numerous regional and national tournaments each year. If it’s winter, you can bundle up and take in some ice fishing.

You can enjoy a day on the lake, fishing or sunbathing. Take a hike on one of the trails around the island. Or, pop into the visitor’s center before enjoying the beach.

 

South Dakota

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Badlands Boondocking Area Located at SD-240, Wall, SD 57790

If you love boondocking, like Jennifer and I do, then this is a truly spectacular spot! This particular camping location is named one of the top five destinations in the United States and will not disappoint.

It’s located just outside the Badlands National Park. You get to camp on top of a natural bluff overlooking the incredible natural badlands topography below.

Camping here is free, and the views are priceless! That’s why I consider it one of the best places to camp, especially in the summer season.

This is truly “dry camping,” so there are no services. Be sure to pack out everything that you bring in to maintain its untouched beauty.

If you want to learn more about boondocking, check out our Beginner's Guide to Boondocking.

Cedar Pass Campground

Cedar Pass Campground is within walking distance of the lodge bearing the same name. It’s open seasonally and boasts views of South Dakota’s incredible badlands.

You can enjoy camping with the convenience of lodge perks, like grabbing a hot meal at the lodge restaurant. Or finding souvenirs for your loved ones from their gift shop.

Horsethief Lake

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Photo by Phyllis Khare

The stunning lake views and location make this one of the best Midwest camping destinations.

Horsethief Lake is located 10 miles south of Hill City, South Dakota, and is set in the picturesque Black Hills. This 36-spot campground is the closest campground to the Mount Rushmore National Monument.

In addition, this campground is a popular place for fishing. Several types of fishing are available here, including Shore, Float Tube, Spin, and Ice.

If fishing is not your thing, enjoy a beautiful and refreshing hike before visiting the incredible Mount Rushmore National Monument. Or, take a nap beneath the towering ponderosa and lodgepole pine forest.

The campground is equipped with picnic areas, campfire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water. There are no electrical hook-ups available.

Nebraska

Smith Falls State Park

This campground is only open to tent camping, but has a lot to offer!

This state park is home to Nebraska’s tallest waterfall, Smith Falls. It draws visitors that like to canoe, kayak, tube, or otherwise experience the gorgeous Niobrara River. (Named a National Scenic River!)

By the way, if you love waterfalls, check out our list of 13 Stunning Waterfalls in the U.S.

Many outfitters utilize the park as a “take-out” spot. So, it’s one of the best Midwest great camping destinations for those that want to float or paddle the river.

The site became a park rather recently in 1992. It is named after Frederic Smith, who was the first person to file a homestead patent on the land that surrounds the falls.

Minnesota

lake superior canva

Wildhurst Lodge and Campground

One of the best Midwest camping spots for wildlife viewing!

Spotting bears, moose, and grouse while hiking the nature trails or along the creeks is common for the area. This campground is a nature lover’s paradise, tucked into 40-acres of Sawtooth Mountains wilderness.

Be sure to visit the nearby Finland State Forest, situated in south-central Lake county and southwestern cook county. Boasting waterfalls and fern carpeted forests, this 30,000 forest is a must-see.

If that isn’t enough, pop on over to Lake Superior where you can enjoy hiking, boating, or have lunch along the shores.

 

A few more best midwest camping sites

Missouri

Pulltite Campground

Pulltite campground is in the vicinity where two of America’s most scenic rivers converge, creating the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. As the first national parks area to preserve a wild river system, campers can participate in favorite water sports, like canoeing.

Located on the Current River, you can also enjoy other activities, such as horseback riding, viewing wildlife, and hiking.

Wisconsin

Kettle Moraine State Forest

Kettle Moraine State Forest encompasses over 22,000 acres of kettle lakes, prairies, and glacial hills. It offers more than 100 miles of horseback riding, hiking, nature, and mountain biking trails.

If you’d rather spend your time on the water, there is boating, swimming, and fishing. Hunting and winter sport opportunities are also available. 

Having so much at your fingertips at Kettle Moraine makes it one of the best Midwest camping locations you can find.

Indiana

Follow the River Resort

Called one of the top RV parks in Indiana, this campground offers many modern amenities. You can count on a nice clubhouse, clean restrooms, showers, and a heated swimming pool.

This RV park is a great place for families. It offers fishing, hiking and biking trails, and a jumping pillow! Or, leave the campground to check out Belterra Casino Resort and Spa.

Michigan

Colwell Lake Campground

It may not be Lake Michigan, but Colwell lake's 145 acres offer excellent swimming as well as beach and boat access. Enjoy a picnic before hiking or fishing along the lakeside path.

Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park Campground

Hocking Hills offers 156 electrical campsites, heated showers, a dump station, playground, volleyball court, horseshoe pit, camp store, and swimming pool. This campground has everything you need for a well-rounded vacation.

Camping here is a hiker’s dream, with many different trails offering natural beauty and wonder. Waterfalls, stunning cliff hikes, and cave exploring are just some of the adventures offered on the miles of trails.

Don’t Miss Out on the Best Midwest Camping

With its pristine waterways and access to countless outdoor activities, the Midwest has a lot to offer. You get to see an entire part of the country that is too often undervalued. 

Please share your favorite Midwest camping and RV destinations in the comments below!

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Looking for more ideas for road trips?

We've written a library of RV Travel books that lay out seven-day guided explorations of scenic areas of the US that we've explored and think would make an excellent RV trip for you.

In each location, we provide a suggested route and itinerary (7 stops in each guide, one for each day of a week trip!) as well as links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, local tips, and interesting things to do at each location.

You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a 2+ week period.

Planning an RV trip can be very time-consuming so that’s why we’ve done the research for you! Just take our guides and use them, we’re sure you’ll have an RV trip for the ages! Instant download. CLICK HERE for information on our RV Travel Guides

The 11 Best Midwest Camping & RV Spots (By State!)

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

6 Comments

  • Wow, what an insult to my home state of Iowa. How is it possible to discuss the Midwest and leave out the state right in the middle. Have you even been there? They actually have campgrounds and beautiful parks, not to mention the Mississippi River. But maybe it’s better to keep it to ourselves.

    • I felt the same way! I thought maybe it was included in a different “grouping” of states but not when every other state around us was included…

    • I agree. Especially when all the other states around us are in this article. I say, That’s ok, we can keep it for ourselves!!

  • What a waste of time this article was, on South Dakota, you missed all of the beautiful Black Hills with dozens of great camping places from full hookups to boondocking spots to say nothing of all the locations along the Missouri River.

    • I agree Steve, I grew up in South Dakota and there is so much more to South Dakota than what was mentioned here. Maybe that is a good thing though as it leaves the good spots for the rest of us.

  • Love to follow you!!! Thanks for all the great information. My husband and I are planning a trip using your 7 day guide to the Adirondacks. We will be leaving north Mississippi October 1, 2021. After completing your travel plans, we will head to Catskills Mountains around Woodstock, then to Shenandora Valley and follow the Blue Ridge as we head home. Please send more information about camping in Catskills and Shenadora Valley and also great things to see and do. We love boondocking! Don’t like crowded RV parks. Thanks so much!

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