Beeds Lake State Park in Hampton, Iowa is well-known and popular with the locals and is otherwise just a bit too far off the beaten track of I35 in northern Iowa to be discovered by travelers journeying between Des Moines and Minneapolis. A short 10 mile drive east from I35 brings you to a pretty, tree-lined lake and state park.
We’ve come to this area for years to visit family but this is our first stay at the state park. The campground is more or less divided between RV sites and grassy tent sites and the RV sites are somewhat divided again between a few pull-through sites or more or less standard back-in sites around the parameter of the campground and “parallel parking” campsites up and down the roads in the middle of the campground. Those campsites are interesting to say the least. RV’s line up in “parallel parking” mode, with the people opposite one another sharing a grassy strip between them. Since we stayed during the Independence Day weekend the campground was completely full so we saw the parallel parking in full swing. Several RVs were so close end-to-nose that the fellow in back had to wait for the folks in front to get hooked up and out before they could hookup to move. All the above seemed to work and the grassy strips between the lines of campers looked like one, big happy block party. Of course this was Independence Day; normally there are lots of vacancies giving everyone a bit more breathing space. When the campground isn’t packed the parallel parking sites function as convenient pull-throughs. I reserved early and picked a back in site that turned out to be a terrific, lake-view site with a nice, big “front yard.”
The lake was built by the CCC a long time ago and they built a large stone “stair step” dam that functions as a beautiful waterfall. We could hear it from our campsite – talk about ambiance: it was terrific. Our spot was so pleasant I almost felt guilty when looking at the folks who were packed into the sites across the center of the campground. I almost felt guilty, but I somehow managed to avoid it!
Again, this is a much loved local state park. One advantage of being here over the holiday is that the local Jaycees do a great fireworks show over the lake. People lined the shore to enjoy the show. It was a lot of fun and watching Independence Day fireworks in small town Iowa at a campground was about as American an experience as you will ever get.
You might want to know that all the RV sites are 50/30 amp only with no water or sewer hookups. There are water spigots scattered around the campground so it’s easy enough to fill up with fresh water upon arriving. However, there is only one dump station for the entire campground. After the busy weekend there was a line of people waiting their turn at the dump station. The campground boasts a couple of new shower houses and restrooms. I had a clear sky for satellite TV and my Verizon phone got a weak, but working 4G connect. There’s a fairly busy train track not far from the campground. We often heard the trains but it wasn’t a big deal.
If you happen to be traveling I35 through northern Iowa and don’t mind driving 10 miles or so off the freeway you might want to keep this place in mind. I suggest you make a reservation so you can guarantee a parameter, back in spot unless you think you would be satisfied with a parallel parking site that will feel like a pull-through when there are few fellow campers around.