Prairie Rose State Park RV & Campground Guide
Prairie Rose State Parkcaptures the scenic, tranquil beauty of southwestern Iowa. It's located next to the town of Harlan in Shelby County, making the park a short 60 miles away from Omaha, Nebraska, and 90 miles away from Iowa's capital in Des Moines. Prairie Rose State Park’s most notable feature is its 218-acre lake, a popular fishing and swimming destination. The lake itself is roughly half of the entire acreage of the park. The park also features multipurpose trails in several spots, which are in use both in the summer and the winter seasons for a variety of activities.
RV Resorts & Campsites in Prairie Rose State Park
RVs are ideal for visiting and touring Iowa's state parks, especially for trips longer than a weekend. With the convenience of not needing to set up or take down tents, as well as no need to worry about either hotel or cabin/lodge vacancy in parks, RVs allow for both ease of travel and packing. For those who do not own an RV, a rental is a cost-effective option for many trips. Be sure to check out RVshare if you need to find a nearby rental.
Prairie Rose State Park East and West Campgrounds
Prairie Rose State Park features two separate campground areas with over 90 sites available overall. The East Campground, the larger of the two options, features a number of amenities, including modern showers, restrooms, and electrical hookups, that are ideal for RV campers. The West Campground also features some spots with electrical hookups and is very popular with tent campers. Camping spots can be reserved ahead of time through the Iowa State Park Reservation System, though there are also several on-the-spot sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. For the peak season of May 1-September 30, full hookups cost $19 per night. In the off-season of October 1-April 30, full hookups cost $14 per night.
Backyard RV Park
Backyard RV Park is a little over 11 miles outside of Prairie Rose State Park at 1244 Street F32 in Harlan, IA. This smaller RV park is limited to less than 20 RV spots. However, at $13 per night, the rates are very reasonable. Backyard RV Park features grass sites with free Wi-Fi, restrooms, full electrical hookups, sewer, and a pet-friendly policy.
Shelby RV Park and Country Inn Motel
Located roughly 20 miles away from the park at 15 East Street in Shelby, IA, Shelby RV Park features 125 RV spots and a 16-room motel. RV rates are $35 overnight. The campground is fairly basic, but it does offer free Wi-Fi and laundry service.
RV Rentals Near Prairie Rose State Park
Nearby RV Rentals
What to Do at
Prairie Rose State Park
Inside Prairie Rose State Park
The lake at Prairie Rose State Park features both a sizable beach for swimmers and two ramps for boaters. All kinds of boats are welcome in the lake at limited speeds, and iceboats are popular in the winter season. Fishing is also very popular at the lake, which is home to bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill as well as two fish-cleaning docks for anglers. Other activities at the park include picnicking and hiking in the summer and snowmobiling and skiing in the winter. There are several miles of trails dedicated to these activities in different sections of the park.
Outside Prairie Rose State Park
When you want to explore outside the boundaries of Prairie Rose State Park, you'll have plenty to see and do. This includes visiting restaurants, shops, and local attractions. Many options are located in Harlan and Walnut, both less than 10 miles from the state park.
Emma Jean's features casual comfort cuisine in a family-friendly setting. This is a great spot for a quick bite while you're out exploring the local area.
Type: Comfort Food
Location: 2117 Antique City Drive, Walnut, IA 51577
Goosman's Westside Lounge
Known locally as "The Westside," Goozman's offers traditional American food and features billiards tables available for visitors' entertainment.
Location: 1019 7th Street, Harlan, IA 51537
Milk and Honey is a farm-to-table restaurant specializing in traditional breakfast cuisine with a small-town feel.
Location: 1101 7th St, Harlan, IA 51537
Market Street Gifts
Among many other things, visitors can pick up postcards and greeting cards in this small boutique shop. Market Street is a great spot to find a souvenir of your trip to the area.
Location: 608 Market St, Harlan, IA 51537
A small boutique dedicated to women's clothing, this shop also specializes in accessories and handmade gifts.
Location: 1023 7th St, Harlan, IA 51537
Hannah's specializes in vintage wallpaper, crafts, and small gift items. Stop in to shop for yourself or someone you love.
Location: 947 Oak Rd, Harlan, IA 51537
Nishna Bend Recreation Area
Nishna Bend Recreation Area is a county park near Prairie Rose State Park. It features hiking trails, an arboretum, and even more fishing opportunities.
Location: 516 Maple Road, Harlan, IA 51537
Shelby County Speedway is a dirt racetrack with a long history. Since 2007, it has been an Association-run track, having been bought out by the Shelby County Racers Association, a group of professional racers and fans. The speedway averages between two to four events per month.
Location: 314 4th Street, Harlan, IA 51537
For the history-minded traveler, Walnut Creek Historical Museum gives viewers a chance to walk through the past. Old-time clothing, photos, and other items are on display on weekend afternoons from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Location: 304 Antique City Dr, Walnut, IA 51577
Albert the Bull Park
No road trip would be complete without at least one classic roadside attraction, and a curiosity nearby Prairie Rose State Park is no exception. Albert the Bull is billed as "The World's Largest Bull" and stands over 25 feet tall. The site also features camping, a swimming pool, and other fun features.
Location: 115 Circle Dr, Audubon, IA 50025
How to Get to
Prairie Rose State Park
Fortunately, Prairie Rose State Park is relatively easy to get to with few twists and turns. The park is located just north of Exit 46 off of I-80 in Iowa, roughly 7.5 miles from the interstate on State Road M47. The park entrance is on the left-hand side of M47 when traveling north toward the park.
For a frame of reference, from the nearest large city in Omaha, the trip is an almost straight shot on I-80 East and should take less than an hour to travel. From the nearest city in the state (Des Moines), the trip is primarily on I-80 West, and it should take just a little under 90 minutes to arrive at the park.
Entering Prairie Rose State Park
Prairie Rose State Park is open daily from 4:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. for day-use activities. Campers can access park facilities 24/7.
Per vehicle : $0
Prairie Rose State Park is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and the memories made on such trips are often more valuable than anything spent on travel and lodging expenses. When you're ready to take a pleasant trip out to Shelby County, make sure to post about your experience and tag RVshare on social media. You can also send photos and memories to [email protected] for a chance to be featured on our blog!