Day Trip: Maquoketa Caves State Park near Dubuque

If you’ve been to Cave of the Mounds and you’re looking for a more rugged experience, check out Maquoketa Caves State Park. Perfect for a day trip of exploring, it’s just 2 hours from Madison and 30 minutes south of Dubuque, IA. Plan the day with a stop at the Mississippi River Museum or the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, IA. 


9688 Caves Rd, Maquoketa, IA
*Open dawn to dusk


Six miles of hiking trails weave around and within 13 impressive caves all with different features like the 17 ton Balance Rock. Wooden paths, stairs, and bridges were built to provide ease of access to the caves and hiking trails in areas that may have water. 

The park has been popular since the 1860s and accommodates both hikers and spelunkers. There are campsites requiring reservations and even an interpretive center, formerly known as Sager’s Museum, open in the summertime on weekends. 

Our Day Visiting

Coordinating a hike and stop over on our way home from an out west road trip, this was the perfect place to recharge and explore. Driving through farm fields, we were unsure of what to expect from the caves. We wandered on a few short hikes and were fascinated by the magnitude of the rock formations and cave views. It’s an impressive landscape that’s absolutely worth the trip. Taking the time to read the signs and learn a bit about thegeological formations, habitats, and wildlife provide context and insight. We picnicked and wandered, climbed and laughed. It was a wonderful day and we’d love to explore it again!

Lyndsey Battaglia
Lyndsey was born and raised in New Orleans which instilled a deep passion for architecture, history, and FOOD. She and her husband James are proud graduates of UW-Madison. Go Badgers! They live in the Madison area with their 3 active children. Lyndsey is a freelance writer and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. When not working, she can be found running her kids around to swimming, ballet, basketball, and skiing. They all love new adventures, travel, cooking, being outdoors, reading, biking, and trying to keep up with their new puppy.


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