US 218 in Iowa

By | October 18, 2022


US 218
Begin Keokuk
End Mona
Length 273 mi
Length 440 km

Mount Pleasant


80 Riverside

85 Hills

89 Iowa City Fairgrounds

91 Iowa City

93 Melrose Avenue

→ Des Moines / Davenport

4 North Liberty

10 Swisher

13 Ely

16 Marshalltown


The City Gate


Cedar Falls


Charles City

St. Ansgar


US 218 is a US Highway in the US state of Iowa. The road forms a north-south route in the eastern half of the state, running from Keokuk through Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo to the Minnesota border. The road is a relatively important road, with a number of 2×2 sections over longer distances. US 218 is 440 kilometers long.

  • ElectronicsMatter: State facts of Iowa, covering history, geography, demography, economics, politics, and administrative division of Iowa.

Travel directions

US 218 at Mount Pleasant.

US 218 at Waterloo.

US 218 begins at an intersection with US 136 in Keokuk, a town in the far southeast of the state, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Des Moines. The road then continues for a while with US 61 towards Davenport, after which US 218 branches east and then forms a 2×2 road north to Mount Pleasant, where US 218 is a highway. Here one crosses US 34, the east-west route from Ottumwa to Burlington. Then the road continues for 80 kilometers to Iowa City. A little way south of Iowa City, US 218 becomes a highway, passing along the west side of Iowa City. Here one crosses Interstate 80, the highway from Des Moines to Chicagoand also crosses the US 6 that runs parallel to it. Interstate 380 to Cedar Rapids also begins from Iowa City, over which US 218 runs.

On the south side of the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second largest city, US 218 exits west on US 30 toward Marshalltown. The US 151 to Dubuque is also crossed here. US 30 and US 218 are then double-numbered with 2×2 lanes about 30 kilometers to the west, after which US 218 turns north, and jumps a number of times to the west, more or less parallel to I-380. One reaches the city of Waterloo from the southeast, where one crosses the US 20 highway, which runs from Fort Dodge to Dubuque. In the center of Waterloo one crosses the US 63 leading to Rochester in Minnesotaruns. North of Waterloo, US 218 is again a 2×2 trunk with a few freeways, around Waverly and Charles City. The latter also intersects US 18, the state’s northern east-west route. Then US 218 follows the grid pattern to the northwest before reaching the Minnesota border. US 218 in Minnesota continues through Austin to Owatonna.

  • Fun-wiki: Brief information of the state Iowa, covering basic history and geography as well as top cities of Iowa.


US 218 was created in 1926. The southern terminus at the time was Vinton, a small town on the Cedar River between Waterloo and Cedar City. In 1938, US 218 was extended south to Keokuk, in the far south of the state of Iowa. US 218 is one of the main north-south routes in Iowa, and it’s fairly well built. The section between Iowa City and Waterloo has been expanded as Interstate 380, making US 218 between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo rather unimportant because of the parallel I-380. Between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, US 218 runs along with I-380.

The first section of I-380 to join US 218 opened on September 19, 1973, from I-80 to Eastern Iowa Airport, just south of Cedar Rapids. In 1976, I-380 reached Cedar Rapids. In 1985, the highway around Iowa City opened, making the southern portion of the highway a reality. Since 1985, I-380 between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo has also been completed, eliminating the throughput of US 218 between the two cities.

Except for I-380 and the part around Iowa City, US 218 was otherwise single-lane in the late 1980s. In the second half of the 1990s, the route between Mount Pleasant and Riverside was widened to 2×2 lanes, partly over a new route. Around 2000, the highway around Mount Pleasant also opened. In about 2005, the divided highway between Donnellson and Mount Pleasant opened, completing the widening of this part of the north-south axis to 2×2 lanes.

The highway between Waterloo and Cedar Falls is the oldest section in northern Iowa, having opened circa 1990. About 1994-1995, the 2×2 road between Cedar Falls and Waverly opened, with a grade-separated bypass around Waverly opening circa 2005. The four-lane section from Waverly to Charles City was probably constructed in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

On October 13, 2016, a grade-separated connection opened between Waterloo and Janesville, replacing 4 at-grade intersections. With this, a 9 kilometer long section was transformed into a freeway.

Traffic intensities

Portions of US 218 handle quite a bit of traffic, some 6,000 to 11,000 vehicles between Keokuk and Iowa City and 42,300 on the I-380 double numbering. The parallel part has dips of 1,400 vehicles. North of Waterloo the road is busier again with 17,000 to 7,000 vehicles descending. 2,000 vehicles cross the Minnesota border every day.

US 218 in Iowa