Pammel Park


Camping/Cabins in Pammel Park

Shelter Houses

Shelters in Pammel Park


Historic Features in Pammel Park

Pammel Park was originally one of the first State Parks in Iowa (dedicated in 1928). It has been managed by the Madison County Conservation Board since 1989. The park is noted for its natural woodland beauty highlighted by its signature limestone ridge known as the “backbone”. It is home to numerous botanical treasurers that include a lush diversity of woodland vegetation from wildflowers and native plants to the best quality Walnut stands in central Iowa. Some of the oldest recorded Oak trees anywhere in the State grow from the craggy surfaces of the “backbone”. All this natural beauty is graced with the meandering flow of Middle River. This 350 acre park, with carefully planned development, is quickly becoming the destination park of the Madison County park system.

Facilities & Features

  • Backbone Shelter
  • Pammel Lodge
  • Picnic Grounds
  • Modern Bathrooms
  • Play Equipment
  • Trails
  • Middle River Ford
  • Harmon Tunnel
  • Modern Campgrounds
  • Yurt Cabins
  • Dump Station
  • Nature Center

Camping: Pammel Park campgrounds have 36 designated modern sites providing electrical and water hookups. There are also 5 tent-only sites. Modern bathrooms and showers are also provided along with play equipment. Dump station provided.

Camping reservations are available online. Reservations can be made up to 1 year in advance. Click here to view the camping rates and campground policies. Click here to make a camping reservation.

Yurt Cabin Camping: There are two 24’ diameter Yurt style cabins. Yurt cabins are soft-sided structures that are commonly found in the western United States and are of a unique design to provide comfort in a more versatile setting. The Yurt cabins sleep 8 people and are air-conditioned & heated. Each cabin has a small kitchenette that includes an electric stove/oven, microware, refrigerator, counter space and cabinets. Other furnishings include two sets of bunk beds (double-bed on bottom, single-bed on top), a sleeper sofa and a kitchen table and chairs. An exterior deck is attached to each cabin, along with a hooded BBQ grill, ground-fire ring and water hydrant. Cabin renters must use the bathrooms in campgrounds.

Yurt Cabins must be reserved in advance. All reservations must be made online. Click here to view the yurt cabin rates and campground policies. Click here to reserve a yurt cabin.

The Pammel Park Lodge is available for reservations throughout the year. Reservations must be made in advance. Call the conservation board office at 515-462-3536 for prices and availability. For shelter reservation polices, click here.

Backbone Shelter: Constructed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and built with native timbers and limestone, this small shelter is located in the backbone picnic grounds near the trail head of the Backbone Trail. Available on a first-come/first-serve basis. No utilities available.

Picnic Grounds: Three separate picnic areas are located near the main entrance of the park, as well as around the Lodge and north of the campground on the backbone. A small one-table shelter is located near the ford.

Environmental Education/Nature Center: Acquired during a park expansion, this former rural chapel has been transformed into a nature center where many environmental education programs are conducted by the Board’s naturalist throughout the year. A new conservation center will soon be constructed a short distance from the existing facility and will house the growing education program.

Trails: Nearly 5 miles of trails wind through Pammel’s woodlands exploring the many diverse ecosystems created by the river, geology and plant life. Three separate trail systems are located in the park. The Backbone Trail has trail heads at both ends of the tunnel as well as atop the backbone near the Backbone Shelter. The Lodge Trail has trail heads near the bathrooms and play equipment. The Interpretive Trail begins on the north side of the park road directly across from the Lodge.

Canoeing/Tube Floats: Canoe/Kayak accesses are available at the Middle River Ford. Some campers put in at the ford and canoe the “horse-shoe” section of the river and take out at the bridge by the main entrance (30 minutes). Click on River Access for more information on canoeing Middle River.

River Fishing in Middle River: Catfish (Channel, Blue and Flathead) is excellent, especially below the ford following heavy flows.

Camping & Shelter Rentals

Click for Camping & Cabin Reservations (rates & polices)

Click for Lodge and Shelter Reservation Rates & Policies 


Pammel Park is located 4 miles southwest of Winterset. From Winterset travel west on State Highway 92 for 1 mile, turn south on State Highway 322 for 3 miles.

911 Address: 1900 Pammel Park Road, Winterset, IA 50273
GPS Coordinates (UTM @ park entrance): X:410250 Y:4572325, UTM Zone 15