One of the coolest places to hike in Iowa, Maquoketa Caves State Park in the Driftless Area on the eastern edge of the state is home to 13 unique caves. Though the park is only about 325 acres in size and just over 10 minutes from town, the dense forest and rugged topography make you feel like you've disappeared into the wilderness. Explore the park on its 6 miles of trails where you can crouch through Dancehall Cave and walk underneath the Natural Bridge. One developed campsite is available with other lodging opportunities in the nearby town of Maquoketa.
With so many trails in such close proximity, getting lost while hiking is easy but also part of the fun. The trails on the north side of the park are flatter and more straightforward, traveling past notable sights like the Natural Bridge, Twin Arch Cave, Match Cave, and Wide Mouth Cave. The trails on the south side of the park are hilly and labyrinthine, and it's an adventure to try and find your way to each numbered destination, like Rainy Day Cave, Balanced Rock, and Barbell Cave. No matter where you hike, grab a park map beforehand and make sure you always know how to return to the parking area.