Just relocated from Warshington to Des Moines. Back home I focused mainly on scrambles, glacier climbs, and easy alpine climbs in the cascades, now I suppose my focus will need to be technical rock climbing. Looking at some of the stuff available in MN and WI. What is this quartzite rock all about? I've pretty much exclusively climbed on basalt and granite and my trad leading experience is short (about a year). How easy is it to protect the cracks at Devils Lake or Blue Mounds state park? How much do you guys trust cams in this stuff? Seems like my old hexes might come in handy here.
The quartzite is slick, very. I've climbed at both, not extensively, but I think Blue Mounds is a bit slicker. Some leads, some TR only. Cams are probably not the best protection, especially at BM, maybe better at Devils Lake. The cracks are great for stoppers & hexes, bring them along. There is limestone sport in Iowa (haven't been there personally), Southern WI and MN, basalt north of the Twin Cities, and some really great climbing on the North Shore too.
Pictured Rocks State Park (aka Wild Iowa) outside of Monticello is a great option for sport climbing on limestone. There are only a couple of 5.low cracks that I can recall, so really limited trad options if that's what you're looking for. But the sport routes are really fun, the community has been -- for years -- very positive, and since the state of use of the park seems to be forever in dispute, very cooperative with landowners and managers, and the crags are right along a quiet, pretty stretch of the Maquoketa.
It was, IIRC, a couple hours from Grinnell (where I went to school back in the early 90's), so, likely three hours or so for you, but you can camp at the park -- unless that's changed. Active Endeavors in Iowa City always had the best info on the current state of things in those days; I'm sure they'd still be a good resource.