For more information contact: Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, Des Moines 50319; 515/281-8368;

The Iowa state park system offers an outstanding array of outdoor recreation opportunities within its 83* state parks and recreation areas. Nearly 53,000 acres of land are available for activities ranging from sight-seeing and hiking to camping, picnicking, and swimming. Iowa's parks and recreation areas also encompass a great variety of beautiful and unique natural settings, as well as points of historic significance.

Park lands are operated and maintained by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for the use and enjoyment of Iowa residents and visitors. The park system is administered by the headquarter's staff in Des Moines and 4 park supervisors located throughout the state.

State park attendance during the past five years has averaged 12 million, annually.

Facilities and Attractions

Iowa's state parks, recreation areas, and forests provide 62 campgrounds encompassing over 5,697 campsites. Campgrounds range from the primitive to those with modern restroom facilities and electrical hookups. Special equestrian campgrounds are available at six state parks and forests. Picnicking facilities are present in almost all state park and recreation areas. Many parks feature picnic shelters.

Lodges, available in 18 Iowa state parks, provide excellent settings for all types of family and group events. Family cabins are available on a weekly rental basis at eight parks, providing very economical opportunities for family recreation in a variety of beautiful settings. Three parks feature group camping opportunities geared to large groups desiring accommodations in attractive, natural settings. All of these facilities are available on a reservation basis at economical charges.

Water recreation opportunities abound in Iowa's state parks and recreation areas. A total of 24 parks feature artificial lakes, most with formal beach and boat rental opportunities. Seventeen parks are located on the state's most beautiful natural lakes. Three parks border the several large U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundments. In those parks where lakes are not present, rivers and streams normally exist. These provide a variety of recreational opportunities in their own right.

Recreational Trails

Iowa's state parks and recreation areas offer hundreds of miles of recreational trails. Opportunities are provided for the hiker, snowmobile enthusiast, cross-country skier, and equestrian. In addition, three parks feature paved bicycle paths.

Interpretive Activities

Formal nature trails are located in over 40 state parks and recreation areas. Brochures, keyed to points of natural or historical interest, are available at each trailhead. In addition, many state parks offer a variety of evening campground programs featuring movies, slide presentations, and guest speakers.

A formal interpretive center is open year-round at the E.B. Lyons Woodland Preserve just south of Dubuque. The center borders the 1,260-acre "Mines of Spain" tract, an area of unique natural, historical, and archaeological significance. The South Bluff Nature Center at beautiful Bellevue State Park is open seasonally and for special interpretive events. Bellevue's "Butterfly Garden" is unique to the Midwest. Its 150 individual plots contain a myriad of annual and perennial plants, which provide food and shelter for a wide variety of butterflies. The Iowa state park's interpretive program is continually expanding in order to offer additional education and enjoyment to state park visitors.

Historical Facilities

In 1983, the Iowa Conservation Commission, now known as the Department of Natural Resources, was given "Cedar Rock," an historic home designed by the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The residence, donated by the Lowell Walter family, is located on the scenic Wapsipinicon River in northeast Iowa. The furnished home and grounds are open for public and group tours May through October.

Fort Atkinson in northeast Iowa was built and operated by the U.S. Army in the 1840s. Only a few of the original buildings remain. However, the largest of those now houses a museum, open to the public on a seasonal basis. Since 1977, the fort has been the site of the Fort Atkinson Rendezvous, a two-day recreation of an 1840 era fur trader's rendezvous. It is held the last full weekend of September.

Park Fees and Services

There is a nominal fee for swimming at state park beaches where concession facilities and lifeguards are provided. Nightly fees are charged for overnight camping: $9.00 per night for a campsite in modern campground (showers and flush toilets); $7.00 per night for nonmodern; and $3.00 additional if a site equipped with electrical hookup is occupied. Camping fees are discounted at many parks during the fall, winter and early spring seasons. Most state park campgrounds provide drinking water, tables, grills, and toilet facilities. Many feature sewage dump stations. A detailed "Guide to Iowa's State Parks, Forests, and Recreation Areas" is available, as well as individual brochures for the specific parks.

* - Includes 21 areas managed under lease by county conservation boards or municipalities.

State Parks and Recreation Areas
Name Telephone Location/Highway Area
Backbone 319/924-2527 4 mi. S.W. Strawberry Point/IA 410 1,780 85A
Badger Creek Recreation Area 515/285-4502 6 mi. S.E. Van meter 1,162 279M
Beeds lake 515/456-2047 3 mi. N.W. Hampton/County Road 319 99M
Bellevue 319/872-3243 2½ mi. S. Bellevue/ U.S. 52 547  
Big Creek 515/984-6473 2 mi. N. Polk City/IA 415 1,536 905A
Black Hawk Lake 712/657-2639 Lake View/ IA 175 & 71 86 925N
Bobwhite 515/873-4670 1 mi. W. Allerton/ IA 40 398 89A
Brush Creek Canyon 319/425-4161 2 mi. N. Arlington 217  
Brushy Creek Recreation Area 515/543-8298 4 mi. E Lehigh/ County Road 4,205  
A. Call 515/295-3669 1½ mi. S.W. Algona 130  
Cayler Prairie
  4 mi. W. Wahpeton 160  
Cedar Rock Residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Open May through October. 319/934-3572 3 mi. N.W. Quasqueston 350  
Clear Lake 515/357-4212 2 mi. S. Clear Lake/ IA 106 55 3,684N
Dolliver Memorial 515/359-2539 3 mi. N.W. Lehigh/IA 50 572  
Elk Rock (Red Rock) 515/627-5434 7 mi. N. Knoxville/ IA 14 2,218 10,600R
Emerson Bay 712/337-3211 2½ mi. N. Milford/ IA 32 12 3,847N
Fairport 319/263-3197 5 mi. E. Muscatine/ IA 22 17  
Fort Atkinson Reconstructed fort built in 1840. Museum open seasonally. 319/534-7543 adjoins Fort Atkinson/ IA 24 5  
Fort Defiance 712/362-2078 1 mi. W. Estherville/ IA 9 181  
Gardner Sharp Cabin Original cabin and site of infamous Spirit Lake massacre of 1857.   Arnolds Park/ U.S. 71 1    
Geode 319/392-4601 4 mi. S.W. Danville/County Road 1,641 200A
Green Valley 515/782-5131 2½ mi. N.W. Creston/ County Road 1,000 428A
Gull Point 712/337-3211 3½ mi. N. Milford/ IA 32 165 3,847A
Hayden Prarie   5½ mi. S.W. Lime Springs 240  
Honey Creek (Rathbun) 515/7244-3739 9½ mi. W., 3 mi. S.E. Moravia/ IA 142 828 11,000R
Isthmus Access 712/337-3211 N. shore, E. Okoboji Lake 7  
Kalsow Prairie   4 mi. N.W. Manson 160  
Lacey-Keosauqua 319/293-3502 adjoins Keosauqua/ IA 1 1,653 22A
Lake Ahquabli 515/961-7101 5½ mi. S.W. Indianola/ IA 349 770 114A
Lake Anita 712/762-3564 3 mi. S. Anita/ Interchange I-80 942 182A
Lake Darling 319/694-2323 3 mi. W Brighton/ IA 78 & 1 1,387 299A
Lake Keomah 515/673-6975 5 mi. E. Oskaloosa/ IA 371 373 84A
Lake Macbride 319/644-2200 4 mi. W. Solon/ IA 382 2,150 812A
Lake Manawa 712/336-0220 Council Bluffs/ 1 mi. S. IA 92 1,529 660N
Lake of Three Fires 712/523-2700 3 mi. N.W. Bedford/ IA 49 626 99A
Lake Wapello 515/722-3371 6 mi. W. Drakesville/ IA 273 1,168 289A
Ledges 515/432-1852 6 mi. S. Boone/ IA 164 1,200
Lewis and Clark 712/426-2829 3 mi. N.W. Onawa/ IA 324 176 250N
Lower Gar Access 712/337-3211 ½ mi. S. E. Arnolds Park/ U.S. 71 7 273N
Maquoketa Caves 319/652-5833 7 mi. N.W. Maquoketa/ IA 428 272  
Marble Beach 712/337-3211 2 mi. N.W. Orleans/ IA 276 64 4,169N
McIntosh Woods 515/829-3847 ¾ mi. E. Ventura/ U.S. 18 62 3,684N
Mines of Spain        
E.B. Lyons Nature Center 319/556-0620 S. edge of Dubuque from US 52 1,380  
Mini-Wakan 712/337-3211 N. shore Spirit Lake 20 4,169N
Nine Eagles 515/442-2855 6 mi. S.E. Davis City/ County Road 1,119 67A
Okamanpedan 712/362-2078 3 mi. N.E. Dolliver/ County Road 19 981N
Palisades-Kepler 319/895-6039 3½ mi. W. Mount Vernon/ U.S. 30 603  
Pikes Peak 319/873-2341 3 mi. S.E. McGregor/ IA 340 970  
Pikes Point 712/337-3211 2½ S.W. Spirit Lake/ IA 9 15 3,847N
Pillsbury Point 712/337-3211 Arnolds Park/ U.S. 71 6 3,847N
Pilot Knob 515/582-4835 4 mi. E. Forest City/ IA 9 700 15A
Pine Lake(Upper and Lower) 515/858-5832 ½ mi. N.E. Eldora/ IA 118 572 60 & 59A
Pleasant Creek 319/436-7716 4 mi. N & ½ mi. W. Palo 1,927 410A
Prairie Rose 712/773-2701 6 mi. E. & 3 mi. S. Harlan 661 204A
Preparation Canyon 712/423-2829 5 mi. S.W. Moorhead/ IA 372 344  
Red Haw Lake 515/774-5632 1 mi. E. Chariton/ U.S. 34 420 64A
Rice Lake 515/582-4835 2½ mi. S.E. Lake Mills/ County Road 47 612N
Rock Creek 515/236-3722 6 mi. N.E. Kellogg/ County Road 1,697 602A
Sheeder Prairie   5 mi. N.W. Guthrie Center 25  
Shimek Forest Camping 319/878-3811 1 mi. E. Farmington/ IA 2   20A
Springbrook 515/747-3591 8 mi. N.E. Guthrie Center/ IA 25 & 384 786 27A
Stephens Forest Camping 515/774-5632 W. Lucas. E. Chariton/ U.S. 65 & 34 9 10A
Stone 712/255-4698 8 mi. N.W. Sioux City/ IA 12 1,069 12A
Trappers Bay 712/337-3211 adjoins Lake Park/ IA 219 57 1,041N
Triboji Beach 712/337-3211 N.W. shore, W. Okoboji Lake 5 3,847N
Turkey River Mounds   4½ mi. S.E. Guttenberg 82  
Twin Lakes 712/657-2639 7½ mi. N. Rockwell City/ IA 4 & 124 15 569N
Union Grove 515/473-2556 4 mi. S.W. Gladbrook/ County Road 172 110A
Viking Lake 712/829-2235 4 mi. S.E. Stanton/ County Road 1,000 137A
Volga River Recreation Area 319/425-4161 4 mi. N. Fayette/ IA 150 5,422 135A
Walnut Woods 515/285-4502 4 mi. S.W. Des Moines/ IA 5 300  
Wanata 712/337-3211 ½ mi. S. Peterson/ IA 10 160  
Wapsipinicon 319/462-2761 adjoins Anamosa/ U.S. 151 251  
Waubonsie 172/382-2786 7 mi. S.W. Sidney/ IA 239 & 2 1,247  
Wildcat Den 319/263-4337 3 mi. E. Fairport/ IA 22 417  
Wilson Island Recreation Area 712/642-2069 5 mi. W. Loveland/ IA 362 577  
Woodman Hollow   5 mi. N.W. Lehigh 63  
George Wyth Memorial 319/232-5505 adjoins Cedar Falls/ U.S. 20 494 51A
Yellow River Forest Camping 319/586-2548 14 mi. S.E. Waukon/ IA 76    

Source: Iowa Department of Natural Resources