What's the "Official Campground" like?

What’s the RAGBRAI ‘official campground’ like in the overnight towns? I’ve always used a charter in the past, but wondering if it would be just as easy to use the campground. Is it usually closer to the evening activities, bathrooms, and showers because the officials can best fit the logistics?

Tell me what you know and thanks in advance.

9 Replies

jelly0317, February 3, 2019 at 1:01 pm

The main campground is usually at the high school or fairgrounds. Showers, food, and shuttle stops are nearby.


Uncle Kraig, February 3, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Like Jelly said, they are nearly ALWAYS at either the schools or at the county fairgrounds, almost always. They are quite congested and full. Tents right on top of one another but that’s not a bad thing, just how it is. They are usually, not always, but usually closer to the “action” than most of the charters, especially the big charters. There will be showers nearby and there is always a shuttle stop basically at the campground. The first day, you will have a bit of a wait getting your bags on the truck as that is the day they weigh EVERY bag. Be prepared to wait in a pretty good line on Sunday morning. Getting your bags at days end is easier than people make it seem. If you know what time you put your bag on the truck, you will find it in a minute or less. It’s really no trouble. See you in July. Oh yea, the only other thing is if you are a light sleeper or dont have ear plugs, you wont sleep very late in the main campgrounds. It gets noisy early, everything from people getting up, Kybo doors slamming, baggage truck ramps getting set up, etc, etc. I’ll never forget my first year. I camped WAY too close to the kybos. The doors started slamming at a consistent clip between 3:30 and 4:00 am and were still slamming at 6:30 when I rode away.


bmyoungberg, February 3, 2019 at 6:51 pm

I always ride solo and use the free truck and the campground. Often, it is not that crowded. Just depends. I try not to stay too close to the trucks or outhouses. Most people are early to bed and rise. Relatively quiet at 10. Meet many people just talking while putting up tent. Save the $$$


Chris, February 3, 2019 at 7:27 pm

Like bmyoungberg said: we ride independent and use the Register truck and the campground. It’s really a game of “It depends”. IMHO, if you’re up on the early side and go to bed before 10-ish, the campground is easy living. They do start setting up the luggage truck at ~4:30am, and they Kybo doors do bang though the night, but if you are not a super-light sleeper, it’s not so much noise as to wake you up. We’ve literally set our tent up in the shadow of the luggage truck for shade some years, and yes, that means we’re getting up early the next day, but if that’s your plan anyway, it works fine. The shuttle stops are (usually) well marked, it’s usually an easy walk to food/bathrooms/etc.

The main campground isn’t always super close to the evening activities, though. It depends on the town. I’d say, eh, 40% of the time, it’s the closest camping to the evening activities. The other times, we see charters set up while we’re walking or taking a shuttle to the show.

The charter does make certain logistics easier than the main campground, but if you’ve already done RAGBRAI at least once, you’re familiar enough with the flow of things that the main campground is no big deal of a transition. We quite like it πŸ™‚

See you in July


Tim TenClay, February 3, 2019 at 8:48 pm

I’ve only ever used the official campground. It’s easy and will use it again this year.

The only complaint I have is that it seems to be getting less and less important to the Register. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like the official campground is getting further away from the activities in town, with fewer resources. Meanwhile, charters seem to be getting better spots.

I may be wrong though.


MadRanger, February 3, 2019 at 9:29 pm

Like.. Essential to the full monty RAGBRAI experience. πŸ˜‰


SFC JKL 2, February 3, 2019 at 11:52 pm

My experience is it really depends on the town and the area they have available. Sometimes it’s wide open and no problem, other times it’s a giant land grab. Life is like a box a chocolates. You’ll find out when you get to the next town…


Brady Bisgard, March 14, 2019 at 11:37 am

I would describe it as fully dependent on the town. For example last year Maytag Park in Newton was beautiful with a pool, trees, water faucets and more. Then Sigourney was kind of rough: industrial park, close to highway, no shade, no water, not great.

Its always adequate – sometimes not great though.


Niles, March 14, 2019 at 8:39 pm

This year we are on South route so there could be several sites for “main camping site” in smaller towns, just like In Creston and Leon in 2016.


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