Pammel State Park – Winterset

Pammel State Park in Winterset is full of rich history and lots of family fun! It all starts off with the only highway tunnel bridge in Iowa as the entrance to the park. (maximum clearance is 12′-6″). If you are bringing a large RV, then you have to take some back roads in from the south side of the park.

Pammel State Park After you pass through Harmon Tunnel, turn right into the Middle River Ford parking lot. It’s a very short walk (less than a city block) from the parking lot to the tunnel.

Pammel-Park-Middle-River-Ford-afternoonMiddle River Ford seemed to be the local teen hangout. You can walk through barefoot but I would recommend water shoes. Sandbars are accessible if the water is low enough. There is no sand beach here, but there is a small sandy area which little ones would enjoy with a pail and shovel.


Pammel State Park hosts hiking trials and something I had never heard of before, water trails (for canoeing). We hiked a portion of the Lodge Trail which was enjoyable but parts of the trail are washed out and had some obstacles like fallen logs across the trail.


We also hiked Backbone Trail from the campground to Middle River Ford and back…this was about an hour-long trip because we stopped to play at the ford.

The main trail is nice and easy for any age, but we chose to go down the steeper hill side which would be more challenging for younger hikers.

Pammel State Park Sunset hike going down Backbone Trail to Middle River Ford.  *FYI – There are no bike trails in this park or in the Winterset area. They would like to work on connecting to the other major routes in Iowa but I am not sure when that would happen.

We got a new waterproof, supposedly drop proof camera (Fujifilm Finepix XP80) for the kids and our outdoor/water adventures. We haven’t tried it in the water yet!

Our camping trip was part of a wonderful weekend in Winterset and checking out the covered bridges and city park!

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