Iowa State Parks

All But Two Of The Iowa State Parks Are Located On A River Or Lake In This Landlocked State

The management of the State Parks in Iowa is somewhat fractured. There are nineteen Iowa parks which are run by the county in which they are located.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) manage another fifty five Iowa State Parks plus ten Recreation Areas and two other areas.

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Iowa is a state located in the mid western part of the United States and is often referred to as the "American Heartland."

Its name comes from a Native American tribe called the Ioway who were living in the area when the first Europeans arrived. They were two French explorers who had travelled up the Mississippi River in 1673.

The Mississippi River Near Marquette, Iowa

The region that was to become Iowa was claimed for France and remained their territory until 1763 when they transferred ownership to Spain who was their ally at that time.

Iowa was then part of an area known as the Louisiana Territory. Following another treaty between Spain and France in 1800, ownership reverted from Spain back to the French, however, they didn`t keep it long as the final owners then became the United States when they acquired the land in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1804 the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the state and the Lewis and Clark State Park in Monona County presrves the site where they pitched camp on the 10th of August 1804.

Much of Iowa was mapped in 1808 by the famous Zebulon Pike and one of the Iowa State Parks, Pikes Peak State Park in Clayton County is named in his honor. He later went on to Colorado where another Pikes Peak was named after him.

Iowa Is Renowned For Its Beautiful Sunsets

Although there are no real mountains in Iowa; the highest point in the state is well below 2,000 feet; in cannot really be called flat. It consists of gently rolling hills with the most dramatic scenery to be found in The Loess Hills which lie along its western border.

The natural vegetation in Iowa used to be savanna and prairie grass on the upland areas with forests and wetlands on the flood plains and in the river valleys. Over the years this has changed and now 60% of the land in the state is covered with agricultural crops.

In more recent years there has been a shift away from an agricultural based econonmy to one that is more diverse and with that has come "rural flight."

Many of the mid-western states like Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas have suffered in the same way. Population has gradually moved from the rural areas to the urban towns and cities. However, Iowa is still a thriving and beautiful state.

This Bridge At Ledges State Park Was Built By The C.C.C.

Of the fifty five Iowa State Parks actually being run by the state, only two of them are not located on a water feature. The two exceptions are Preparation Canyon State Park, which preserves the site of a town founded in 1853 by a Mormon splinter group led by Charles B. Thompson and Fort Defiance State Park which commemorates the site of an army fort built to protect the Iowa border during the 1862 Dakota War.

The boundaries of Iowa are defined by a number of large rivers. To the east is the Mississippi, to the west is the Missouri and the Big Sioux Rivers while a part of the southern border runs along the shore of the Des Moines River.

Naturally a number of the Iowa State Parks are to be found near the banks of these rivers. Bellevue State Park is on the Mississippi while Lake Manawa State Park is close to the Missouri. Stone State Park and
Ledges State Park
are on the Big Sioux and the Des Moines respectively.

Dramatic Storm Clouds Over The Des Moines River In Iowa (Photo by Iowa-Spirit-Walker)

Part of North west Iowa is known as the Iowa Great Lakes area and a number of Iowa State Parks are located here. Examples of these are Gull Point State Park, Pikes Point State Park and Mini-Wakan State Park.

Some other interesting Iowa State Parks include Beed`s Lake State Park which features a 170 foot long causeway built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Cedar Rock State Park which offers tours around a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Also the Lake Darling State Park which honors a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and the Lake of Three Fires State Park where three Native American tribes held council meetings.

Here is a list of the Iowa State Parks run by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources -

  • Ambrose A. Call State Park
  • Backbone State Park
  • Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park
  • Beed`s Lake State Park
  • Bellevue State Park
  • Big Creek State Park
  • Black Hawk State Park
  • Cedar Rock State Park
  • Clear Lake State Park
  • Dolliver Memorial State Park
  • Elk Rock State Park
  • Elinor Bedell State Park
  • Fort Defiance State Park
  • Geode State Park
  • George Wyeth Memorial State Park
  • Green Valley State Park
  • Gull Point State Park
  • Honey Creek State Park
  • Honey Creek Resort State Park
  • Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
  • Lake Ahquabi State Park
  • Lake Anita State Park
  • Lake Darling State Park
  • Lake Keomah State Park
  • Lake Macbride State Park
  • Lake Manawa State Park
  • Lake of Three Fires State Park

  • Lake Wapello State Park
  • Ledges State Park
  • Lewis and Clark State Park
  • Maquoketa Caves State Park
  • McIntosh Woods State Park
  • Mini-Wakan State Park
  • Nine Eagls State Park
  • Okamanpedan State Park
  • Palisades-Kepler State Park
  • Pikes Peak State Park
  • Pikes Point State Park
  • Pilot Knob State Park
  • Pine Lake State Park
  • Prairie Rose State Park
  • Preparation Canyon State Park
  • Red Haw State Park
  • Rice Lake State Park
  • Rock Creek State Park
  • Springbrook State Park
  • Stone State Park
  • Trapper`s Bay State Park
  • Twin Lakes State Park
  • Union Grove State Park
  • Viking Lake State Park
  • Walnut Woods State Park
  • Wapsipinicon State Park
  • Waubonsie State Park
  • Wildcat Den State Park

And this is a list of the Iowa State Parks which are run by their individual counties

  • Bobwhite State Park - Wayne County
  • Cold Springs State Park - Cass County
  • Crystal Lake State Park - Hancock County
  • Eagle Lake State Park - Hancock County
  • Echo Valley State Park - Fayette County
  • Frank A. Gotch State Park - Humboldt County
  • Heery Woods State Park - Butler County
  • Kearny State Park - Palo Alto County
  • Lake Cornelia State Park - Wright County
  • Lake Icaria State Park - Adams County

  • Margo Frankel State Park - Polk County
  • Mill Creek State Park - O`Brien County
  • Oak Grove State Park - Sioux County
  • Oakland Mills State Park - Henry County
  • Pammel State Park - Madison County
  • Sharon Bluffs State Park - Appanoose County
  • Spring Lake State Park - Greene County
  • Swan Lake State Park - Carroll County
  • Three Mile Lake State Park - Union County

This is a map of Iowa showing all the different counties