Camping Sweepstakes: Hike With Llamas at This Iowa Oasis

A sunet over Windy Goat Acres, a Hipcamp in Iowa.

This gem in the Heartlands is just one example of what Hipcamp offers in a campsite. And with the #SaveASpot sweepstakes, the grand-prize winner can book a two-night stay at Windy Goat Acres (highlighted below) or one of Hipcamp’s 500,000 other U.S. campsites.

That lucky person will also get camping gear bundles and a $1,000 travel stipend!

The sweepstakes is a partnership between GearJunkie, REI, and Hipcamp. Enter today for your chance to win. The sweepstakes will also award 25 additional winners with daily gear prizes.

A group of people on a hike at Windy Goat Acres, a Hipcamp stay in Iowa.
(Photo/Hipcamp by Jackeline Crespo)

Windy Goat Acres

Windy Goat Acres, in Iowa, is just one of Hipcamp’s available U.S. campsites. Owner Jessica Kettler bought the land roughly eight years ago. The unique listing had once been a cattle lot, and then the sellers worked on its biodiversity and planted willows all over to sell from their onsite shop. (Kettler has since turned that into her studio.)

“When we got here, it was just gorgeous because we had all the fruit trees, medicinal plants, and, of course, the willows,” said Kettler, who is also an herbalist. “It’s a bit of a green oasis surrounded by mono-crop farms.”

Her foray into Hipcamp was renting a small cabin with a couple of beds and no amenities. That took off, and the success prompted her and her partner to buy the yurts for the property. She’d stayed in yurts while working in California and wanted to live in one again.

The first yurt transitioned from a common space to a rentable spot. There’s also a primitive site with hanging pods to lounge in during the day. Soon, Windy Goat Acres will add two cabins down the hill from the main site.

“It’s very serene for Iowa. You have the rolling hills, and the animals are super friendly. Our horses wander around the property. There’s chickens crowing all the time, coyotes over here, an owl over there,” Kettler said.

Getting Away or Stopping In

During the pandemic, the site drew visitors from neighboring cities like Iowa City, Des Moines, and even Minneapolis and Chicago.
“We had a following in Pennsylvania for a while. One person came through on their way to Colorado, and then that person would tell their family. That caused a chain reaction to use us as a stopover site,” Kettler said.

She estimates roughly half of her guests come to get away, and the other half are dropping in. After all, sleeping outdoors is a good way to see the country. Her idea is to make it a destination for those who like to roll slow. It’s an artful way to live and not just about the destination, Kettler explained.

“People want something a bit more interesting,” she said. “We’re definitely not a five-star hotel, but we are an interesting experience for a lot of folks that don’t get access to a menagerie of animals and nature.”

Two goats looking for some handouts at the Windy Goat Acres Hipcamp in Iowa.
(Photo/Jessica K, Hipcamp)

Happy Neighbors

The resident goats are on trend. Her partner always wanted some, among other animals, and, apparently, he wasn’t alone. The herd started with four and has grown to 15. The goats were a hit with guests, and so they’ve added experiences with goats into a visit, from goat yoga to pajama parties with goats in the yurt.

A featured extra is the llama hike. Guests can tour the property with llamas for $40. It’s a guided hike, but you’ll lead the llamas, Scarlet and Penny.

The treehouse is another extra to pique guests’ interests and pull them out of their everyday norms. There, guests can sit and paint or just take in the land.

“Stuff like that, even if it sounds ridiculous, it pulls off blinders and opens up a different part of the world with different kinds of thinking,” Kettler said.

Smaller art events and music are also included with this Hipcamp stay.

“I used to travel quite a bit and used to say that everywhere I go, I want it to be memorable. Now I’m kind of providing that,” she said.

A sunset view at Windy Goat Acres, a Hipcamp stay in Iowa.
(Photo/Jessica K, Hipcamp)

Stay Free

Don’t forget, a free Hipcamp stay at one of the hundreds of thousands of sites around the country is available to our #SaveASpot sweepstakes grand-prize winner.

Even if you don’t win the grand prize, which includes huge bundles of gear from REI and a $1,000 travel stipend, you may still be one of 25 daily prize winners.

This article is sponsored by REI, Hipcamp, and GearJunkie. Check out the sweepstakes for ways to win gear and a camping stay.

The post Camping Sweepstakes: Hike With Llamas at This Iowa Oasis appeared first on GearJunkie.

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