Pammel State Park & Campgrounds: Winterset

Pammel State Park & Campgrounds - Winterset, IowaWe’re getting pretty good at this camping thing! We recently spent the weekend camping at Pammel State Park, which is located just south of Winterset in Madison County. The first time we tried to camp at Pammel Park was Labor Day weekend of 2014. Sadly, we had a hailstorm come through town a couple weeks prior (literally ONE WEEK after we brought our camper home). It sustained enough hail damage that it spent some time in the repair shop, and our 2014 Labor Day plans were a no-go.

Thankfully, we were able to finally give the park a try this year for Labor Day weekend. Winterset is less than 15 miles from my home, so it was a nice easy getaway for the long holiday weekend.

Pammel State Park offers 36 modern campsites, which include water and electric. Each site also includes a fire ring and picnic table. A cheap weekend retreat for only $18/night! Make sure to pay attention to the campground map, and choose wisely. It’s a small campground, but busy with people.

One important thing to remember:  if you use a GPS to get there– DON’T.   Check out the Madison County website for directions on how to avoid the low clearance (12’6″) tunnel to get into one of the two entrances to the campgrounds.  Don’t get stuck, because it’s nearly impossible to back up and get turned around, especially on busy camping weekends.

Some tips:

  • Sites 1-20 have very minimal shade.  Some sites have a small tree.
  • The map is deceiving, but sites 1-20 are all staggered.   You’d be looking out at someone’s vehicle or possibly the driveway next to you, instead of being right next to another camper.  It gives the impression of being a little more open.
  • Sites 21-36 are in a more wooded area, but lined up right next to each other.
  • Site #21 is the campground host.
  • The open space in the middle of 1-20 is a busy place for kids playing football, tag, or just running around.  
  • Site 16 is very close to the playground.
  • Each site has a concrete pad for your camper tires to park on.   So easy when it’s time to level your camper or RV!
  • If you’re looking for peace and quiet, choose site #18 or #20.  They have the best views and seemed to be the quietest spots. Also, they face the east, so you have a shaded site most of the afternoon and evening.
  • Camping with friends?   Go for sites #11 & #12.
  • The only dump station in the entire campground is located right by Site #11, so Sunday mornings will be busy there.
  • There are five elevated tent sites, all in the wooded area.
  • The bathroom/shower house has two stalls in each bathroom, and ONE SHOWER.  Plan accordingly. 🙂

We camped on Site #15.  As you can see, we had one shade tree.  We moved our table under that, and it blocked most of the afternoon sun.  Surprisingly, it was fairly quiet even though we had families on either side of us.   

The campground hosts at Pammel were amazing.   We decided to head over on Thursday night and get set up instead of fighting the crowds on Friday after work.   We pulled in, got set up, and then headed out to pay for the extra night at the pay station.  The campground host, Connie, came over to introduce herself, and then proceeded to give us the update on all of the activities going on for the weekend.   These activities included a family movie night (a movie was shown on a screen they put on the side of their camper) on Saturday night.   On Sunday afternoon, they held a fun giveaway with at least 3 prizes for every campsite.   We scored a citronella candle, a hunting knife and a small first aid kit!!  It was fun because you had to be present to win, so all of the campers were there.  Lots of laughter and a good way to break the ice and meet new people.

Pammel State Park & Campgrounds - Winterset, IowaOn Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a drive around the park and see what else it had to offer.  

Do you know what a ford is?  Not the car, silly.   A ford is a shallow spot in a river or stream where you can wade across or even drive across.  The Ledges State Park had some of these, so I had to take some photos of the ford at Pammel State Park, too.  Yes, you can drive or walk across it.  In fact, it’s one of the ways to get to the rest of the park, including the shelter house in the background.

Pammel State Park & Campgrounds - Winterset, Iowa

Pammel State Park & Campgrounds - Winterset, Iowa

Pammel State Park & Campgrounds - Winterset, Iowa

In addition to camping, or walking across the ford, Pammel State Park also offers opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Access 61 in the photo below is right before you get to that low clearance bridge I mentioned.  

Pammel State Park & Campgrounds - Winterset, Iowa

These next two photos were taken from Access 61.  Wouldn’t you love to kayak or canoe through here.  So beautiful! 

Pammel State Park & Campgrounds - Winterset, Iowa

Pammel State Park & Campgrounds - Winterset, Iowa

Now that we’re getting pretty good at this whole camping thing, I can’t wait to go back and give Pammel Park another try!

What’s your favorite place to camp?  Or are you more of a hotel/motel person?


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