Iowa has so many amazing campgrounds and places in nature to visit (but then again doesn’t every state in the USA?) but I was incredibly excited when I discovered Spook Cave & Campgrounds in McGregor, Iowa. I’m a hardcore cave enthusiast so any cave you have to take a boat through is always on my list. We actually decided to rent a cabin for 2 days and just enjoy a restful weekend away.
There’s not too much in McGregor but nearby Dubuque has plenty to keep you busy. And if you enjoy relaxing and being outdoors you may find that you’ll just want to settle in at Spook Cave and skip any surrounding destinations anyway. (Although we couldn’t resist also checking out Crystal Lake Cave which was pretty awesome too!)
The campgrounds were very quiet and serene our entire weekend there and we saw very few people even though the campground looked pretty full. We hopped on the small boat and waited for our cave tour to begin. I loved that there was this little bridge over the “lake” (more like a very small pond!) so that you could walk directly in front of the entrance for pictures and watch the boats glide underneath you.
Everything out of the experience was like it leaped off of the pages of a serene mystery book….right down to the birds nest hanging under the old iron bridge.
WARNING – Spook Cave is NOT for the claustrophobic. Just in case you couldn’t tell by these photos. YES – you must actually LAY DOWN in the tiny little boat to fit through the entrance. It definitely adds to the aura and allure of Spook Cave but please be forewarned that you must duck or lay down quite low for a good 20 seconds in the boat in an awkward position and in an extremely tight space. Once you make it through the opening the cave opens up though and you can enjoy the rest of your damp spooky ride with tall ceilings.
Believe it or not my husband and I actually went on the cave tour twice. My 7 month old (at the time) screamed almost the entire way through it which was pretty awful since you can imagine the echos the cave produced – our poor tour guide! I couldn’t hear a thing over her screams. (she decided she was hungry again and we didn’t have her bottle with us!) Thankfully my in laws offered to watch her so I could go back through and actually enjoy the cave! Our tour guide was extremely knowledgable and really seemed to enjoy his job.
If you have small children you may want to remind them before you go in that there is nothing that will pop out or hurt them! Although it is not truly spooky it’s a dark cave and both of our tour guides told tales as we boated past a fake floating alligator and loudly banged on the side of the boat. Honestly I thought it was an awesome effect but could certainly bother skittish children. Overall definitely a cool experience!
As for the campgrounds itself we just fell in love with the property and wish it were closer to visit more often! The cabin we rented was just stunning and fit all 7 of us (4 adults & 3 kids) nicely with a giant wrap around porch and awesome fire pit. There was a swimming lake out in the back that was just so quiet and serene. Portable bathrooms were nearby and you could drive right down to the lake which was nice. I did notice there were some tent sites available down there too. One side of the lake was for fishing and one was for swimming.
As we were enjoying the lake and fishing my boys were psyched to watch a train roll on by! It was just a surreal weekend – we had such a great time and my boys are already begging to go back.
Up in the front of the campgrounds you actually drive past a small waterfall and creek where you can go fishing. We didn’t have any luck with fish up there but my boys did have a blast catching tons of crayfish! We made good use of our GoPro camera here and really took some cool shots of the crayfish in action as my boys chased them around! They left no rock unturned!