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17 of Iowa's Most Popular Lakes

Looking for a family getaway on the water? Use the Iowa DNR's list of Iowa's top lakes (by attendance each year) for inspiration!

May 1, 2018

17 of Iowa's Most Popular Lakes

17. Lake Geode

Lake Geode is named for Iowa’s state rock, which are abundant in southeastern Iowa, including at Lake Geode in Geode State Park near Danville.

16. Backbone Lake

Try a hike on the Devil’s Backbone or a rock climbing adventure. Located at Backbone State Park near Dundee, Backbone Lake joins a network of trails, climbing, camping and picnicking opportunities at Iowa’s oldest state park.

15. Pleasant Creek

Stay active on the 8.5 miles of trails around Pleasant Creek Lake in Palo. Hike, bike or even snowmobile on the paved or primitive trails.

14. Pine Lake

Pine Lake State Park near Eldora is home to two lakes, Upper Pine Lake and Lower Pine Lake. Together, they are an outstanding destination to fish for bass, crappie, bluegill, northern and catfish. Boat ramps are available at both lakes while a swimming beach is located along the trail at Lower Pine Lake.

13. Black Hawk Lake

Glaciers formed Black Hawk Lake in Lake View, the southernmost glacial lake in the United States. Amenities at the lake include an accessible pier, picnic area, beach, trails and more.

12. Brushy Creek Lake

Brushy Creek Lake at north central Iowa’s Brushy Creek State Recreation Area is the perfect place to cast a line. The lake is full of bass, walleye, catfish and pan fish. Equestrians equally enjoy the park where the North Equine Campground consists of modern restrooms, a horse wash and a substantial hitch rail at each camping site.

11. Lake Red Rock

More than 35,000 acres of shoreline surround Marion County's Lake Red Rock, Iowa’s largest lake. At 160-feet-tall, the Cordova Observation Tower offers a birds-eye view of the lake.

10. Lake Anita

A dam on a branch of the Nishnabotna River formed Lake Anita in 1961. Today Lake Anita State Park, located near the southwest Iowa town of Anita, welcomes visitors to enjoy a range of activities for campers, swimmers, anglers and trail enthusiasts.

9. Lake Rathbun

Nestled on the shore of Lake RathbunHoney Creek Resort is Iowa’s vacation destination and includes a hotel, modern cabins, a championship 18-hole golf course, an indoor waterpark, a restaurant, and many lake activities and programs to entertain the entire family.

8. George Wyth Lake

The Cedar River connects George Wyth Lake to several other waterways and lakes near Waterloo. Fishing is popular and George Wyth Lake has a beautiful beach for swimming.

7. Big Creek Lake

Spend a day swimming or playing on the large wooden play structure at the beach at Big Creek State Park in Polk City. Swim in the lake, explore the beach-side wooden play structure and cool off with refreshment sold at the boathouse. A disc golf course, softball and volleyball areas provide additional entertainment.

6. Viking Lake

Hiking trails around Viking Lake State Park provide beautiful scenic views of the namesake lake. A soft, sandy beach and several mini bays welcome swimmers and anglers at this Stanton destination.

5. Lake Macbride

Lake Macbride near Solon is stocked annually with channel catfish and muskies, making it an angler’s dream.

4. Lake Ahquabi

Ahquabi is a Sauk word meaning “resting place,” the perfect word to describe this state park near Indianolawhere visitors can relax on the water in one of the boats, canoes, kayaks or paddleboats available for rent in the boathouse. Bait is sold there, too.

3. Clear Lake

Spend a weekend sunbathing or swimming at Clear Lake where a paved, handicap accessible walking path runs the length of the 900-foot beach. McIntosh Woods State Park is situated on a portion of the lake’s north shore. Its many shade trees offer a comfortable respite from the summer sun.

2. Lake Manawa

Lake Manawa offers the serenity of nature within the confines of the city of Council Bluffs. The lake was formed in 1881 when the Missouri River cut off a portion of a river channel. A boat ramp provides access from the lake to the Missouri River.

1. Iowa Great Lakes

The state’s deepest lakes, the system of Iowa Great Lakes (which include Big Spirit Lake, West Okoboji, and East Okoboji) combine for 86 miles of shoreline and are the perfect spot for swimming, boating and fishing. Located in far northwest Iowa surrounding the town of Okoboji, these lakes are also a hot spot for ice fishing and are the site for many activities that are part of the annual “Okoboji Winter Games.”

This content was republished from Travel Iowa. Access the original content here.



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