Maquoketa Caves Park

Note:  Thank you to the van dwelling and van camping friends who continue to stop by and check out what’s new.  Your comments make maintaining these pages enjoyable.  

Welcome to the blog today!  Serena and I just returned from an overnight camping trip and long hike at the Maquoketa Caves State Park in Jackson County, Iowa… about 35 miles from where I live.  First of all, the name is not too hard to say… “MUH-Coke-uh-tuh”. The name “Maquoketa” was derived from native American (Sauk and Fox) words meaning “There are bears.”  That was the case 140 years ago but now bear sightings are rare.

Once again, I’ll try to keep the rambling verbiage to a minimum and show some fun pictures.


The campground… At this time of the year (when electricity is helpful for heating purposes) the camping fee is only $11. There was nobody else camping… Score!



There were buckets set up with spiles to drain off the sap from maple trees. I tasted a few drops. It was very mild and ever so lightly sweet. I would have loved to use it for cooking!

5_Inside looking out

From inside one of the larger caves… looking outside.


2 bat

“To the bat cave!” — Adam West in “Bat Man”


Looks like fun… These girls were balancing about six or seven feet above the ground. I watched them climb down… and it was much more difficult descending (in one piece) than getting up there!


There were many stairs throughout the park, particularly those leading into the caves. It beats the heck out of a boring stair climber machine at the gym!

8_Serena Sassing

Serena was meowing (mouthing off) when I was trying to call her back. She loves exploring but there are a LOT of large birds and they had taken notice of her.


Camping meals should be easy and fun… but can be creative and tasty, too! This t-bone was topped with “Brummel and Brown” lowfat buttery spread mixed with cilantro and shallot. The green stuff was spinach cooked in a skillet with potatoes, onions, red and green peppers and more cilantro-shallot butter. The leftover steak and “green stuff” was reheated in the microwave with two eggs for breakfast.

Saturday was a lot of fun.  Serena was in the van most of the time listening to folk music while I was hiking.  Though only a couple of miles were covered, the terrain was hilly and it felt like there were a million stairs.  It was challenging but a terrific workout.  You just cannot compare a gym with the great outdoors.  Hiking is becoming fun way to keep the blood sugars in check.

As the trip wound down and Serena was playing, I loaded up some pine cones and am going to see how if one can preserve them.  It seemed like a great idea to put them in bowls (perhaps some in the bathroom), and use pine-scented oils to make the trailer smell “outdoorsy”.  It’s a worth a try!

As always, thanks for visiting today.  It’s time to rest up and get ready to work tomorrow.  The new job is going well so far.  So what’s next with camping?  In about a week the DNR will be starting the trout stocking for the year.  It’s likely Jesse James and I will be heading north in a week or so.

Take care!  Safe travels and best wishes from Jones County, Iowa
Brad, Serena, and Jesse James


Yep… I couldn’t resist buying this…

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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