Visit State Parks. Check in. Get Rewards.
The Iowa State Park Passport is your ticket to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our state park system, earn prizes and enjoy the outdoors. Make it a family-friendly challenge to visit parks across the state and track your progress with this personalized passport.
It’s free to sign up and the more parks you visit, the more chances for prizes you earn!
In July, each qualified check-in earns a chance to win one of 10 FREE NIGHTS OF CAMPING at an Iowa State Park OR one of 5 FREE IOWA STATE PARKS: A CENTURY OF STEWARDSHIP books!
In August, each qualified check-in earns a chance to win one of 10 FREE NIGHTS OF CAMPING at an Iowa State Park OR one of 5 SETS OF MYSTERY BOOKS BY IOWA AUTHOR KAREN MUSSER NORTMAN.
Be one of the first 50 to check in to ALL 61 State Park locations and win an official PARKS 2020 BASEBALL CAP.
EVERY unique check-in is an entry to the GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY – one person will win a two-night cabin stay at Honey Creek Resort and one person will win a set of 10 Iowa State Park Art Prints from BozzPrints! All check-ins through October 31, 2020 qualify.
For more information regarding the prize package and sweepstakes, CLICK HERE.
Click here to learn about the parks!
Iowa State Park Passport
- Visit state parks and track your progress.
- Enjoy Iowa’s outdoors while supporting Iowa’s state park system.
- Qualify for the grand prize giveaway, monthly drawings and a prize for visiting all of Iowa’s state parks!
Ambrose A. Call State Park is a 138 acre "oasis" of rugged hills, heavily wooded with virgin timber in an area of gently rolling farmland. The park is located in northern Iowa near the east fork of the Des Moines River. A centerpiece of this rustic park is a log-cabin style lodge built in 1928 that is a perfect setting for family reunions and group get togethers.
Dedicated in 1920 as Iowa’s first state park, Backbone State Park is one of the most geographically unique locations in Iowa. The steep and narrow ridge of bedrock from the Maquoketa River forms the highest point in northeast Iowa - The Devil’s Backbone - giving the park its legendary name. Take a walk through history by checking out the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) museum, explore the rugged 21-mile multi-use trail system or fish in some of Iowa’s best trout streams. Whether you’re an adrenaline seeker or just wanting to get outdoors for the day, Backbone State Park has something for everyone.
Badger Creek State Recreation Area is a popular outdoor destination for hunters and anglers just a few miles southwest of the Des Moines metro area. The 276-acre lake offers excellent fishing opportunities for bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. More than 700 acres can be accessed for hunting, bird watching and other nature activities.
Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park is nestled in the rolling landscape between Des Moines and Indianola. The area was once the site of a coal mine and transformed into a state park in 2004. Summerset is a quiet destination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy fishing, hiking and biking
A centerpiece of Franklin County, Beeds Lake State Park is a popular destination for anglers of all ages and contains one of the most photographed dams in the Midwest. The park’s 99-acre reservoir is the primary focus, with ample fishing and hiking opportunities at the spillway and along the causeway. Beeds Lake State Park was named after William Beed, the owner of the property before the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed it into a park.
Eastern Iowa’s Bellevue State Park is rich in archaeological, historical and natural beauty. The park features beautiful overlooks of the Mississippi River. An enclosed nature center and butterfly sanctuary showcase diverse wildlife and plant life inhabiting the area. Bellevue State Park is split into two separate areas, the Nelson Unit and the Dyas Unit; camping is only available at the Dyas Unit.
Located near Saylorville Lake just 20 miles from Des Moines, Big Creek State Park is a family-friendly setting for picnicking and outdoor recreation. The centerpiece is Big Creek Lake, home of the largest beach in the state park system. The lake is also a popular fishing destination with boat and bike rentals available at the beach concessionaire. Take a day-trip to Big Creek State Park this season and enjoy everything Iowa outdoors has to offer.
Black Hawk State Park is home to the southernmost glacial lake in the United States and is a historical icon of Lake View. Many of the park’s structures were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and serve as beautiful locations for picnics and outdoor events. The city of Lake View holds two annual events at Black Hawk Lake -- the Lake View Water Carnival in July and Arctic Open golf event in February.
Brushy Creek State Recreation Area is one of the largest state parks in Iowa, showcasing native prairie, grassland, timber, river and lake habitats across its 6,500 acres. The lake at Brushy Creek is perfect for swimming, fishing and boating. With more than 45 miles of trails, Brushy Creek is a popular destination for horseback riding, including two equestrian campgrounds.
Home to the historic estate of Agnes and Lowell Walter, Cedar Rock State Park was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is an iconic destination for reliving history. The Walter House is the focal point of Cedar Rock, surrounded by lovely gardens and trails as part of the park’s landscape. Visitors can learn more about Cedar Rock on free seasonal tours led by park staff.
Clear Lake State Park offers diverse activities on one of Iowa’s most popular lakes. The 3,000-acre lake is a draw for boating, fishing and windsurfing. The park features open spaces and mature oak trees along with a highly popular campground. Several acres of picnic grounds with tables and grilles are available for day-use. The nearby town of Clear Lake is a summer tourist destination with numerous stores and restaurants.
Dolliver Memorial State Park in Webster County is unique for its natural bluffs and geological formations. Dolliver overlooks the Des Moines River Valley and spreads across 594 acres of flatlands and rugged trails. Highlights of the park include Boneyard Hollow, the Copperas Beds and historic Native American mounds. Take your time while venturing in this surprising park and try spotting some of the hidden surprises Dolliver has to offer.
Elk Rock State Park is adjacent to 50,000 acres of public land available for a variety of recreational activities. The park is located on Lake Red Rock, Iowa’s largest body of water, and offers ample opportunity for boating and fishing. Elk Rock is named for its unusual rock formation located near the south side of the river, and was once home to Native Americans from the Archaic Culture. The park is a popular spot for equestrians, with trails and unique amenities available at the equestrian campground.
Fairport Recreation Area is located right on the Mississippi near Muscatine and offers majestic views of the river. Two boat ramps provide plenty of boating access, along with nearby docks. Campers will enjoy river views from their campsites, along with modern amenities such as electrical hook-ups and modern restrooms and showers.
Fort Atkinson State Preserve in Winneshiek County is the site of some of Iowa’s oldest historic structures. The fort was originally constructed between 1840-1842, and was briefly a federal army outpost for relations with Native American tribes. Several buildings still stand, providing a glimpse into Iowa history.
Fort Defiance State Park, outside of Estherville in northwest Iowa, features 190 acres of rugged woodlands surrounded by gently rolling farmlands. The centerpiece of the park is an army-post style lodge. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking or picnicking in a quiet setting.
Named after Iowa’s state rock, Geode State Park is a traditional favorite for both local residents and out of state visitors. Lake Geode is the focal point of the park, with more than 150 acres available for fishing, boating and paddlesport activities. A geode display is available at the park office, but it is prohibited to remove geodes and any type of natural material from the park.
Abundant in woodlands and wildlife, George Wyth State Park is an “urban sanctuary” offering diverse outdoor activities for visitors. The park was named George Wyth State Park in 1956 after a well-known Cedar Falls businessman, and its secluded environment is the perfect get-away near the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls.
Green Valley State Park in southwest Iowa is a popular destination for fishing and boating. Four lakes in the region -- Three Mile Lake, Twelve Mile Lake, Summit Lake and Green Valley Lake -- are located within 10 miles of each other and create a hub for lake recreation in southwest Iowa.
Gull Point is a focal point for Iowa state parks in the Iowa Great Lakes Region. Along with camping, Gull Point State Park has a popular beach on West Okoboji Lake, which is a vacation favorite for fishing, paddling, and boating. Several small state parks can be found in the Great Lakes region along with Gull Point, many just a few acres offering lake access or picnic opportunities.
Honey Creek Resort in south-central Iowa is a premier destination for outdoor recreation. The 850-acre park features a great lodge/hotel, conference center, cottages, restaurant, indoor water park, 18-hole golf course, RV campground, nature trails, boat ramp and docks, activity center, and more. Additionally, 11,000-acre Rathbun Lake offers numerous fishing, boating, swimming and other recreational opportunities.
Honey Creek State Park in southern Iowa offers 828 acres of rolling, timbered hills with the beautiful backdrop of Iowa’s second largest lake, Rathbun Lake. Many wooded areas along with two shelters offer visitors a secluded setting for a day-time picnic or outdoor event. Honey Creek State Park is a few miles down the road from Honey Creek Resort State Park.
Dedicated in 1921 as Iowa’s second state park, Lacey-Keosauqua State Park spans more than 1,500 acres and offers ample opportunity for fishing, hiking, camping and swimming. Oak-hickory bluffs and valleys characterize the park, including a three mile trail along the bluffs of the Des Moines River. Lacey-Keosauqua is a historic river crossing site along the Mormon western trek in the mid-19th century. Many of the park’s structures were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s and are available for day-use.
Lake Ahquabi is a popular state park in south-central Iowa named after the Sauk and Fox word meaning “resting place.” Dedicated in 1936, several of the park’s structures, such as the stone lodge and picnic shelters, were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression. A sandy beach overlooks the tranquil waters of Lake Ahquabi, and visitors can enjoy the park’s relaxing atmosphere by soaking up the sun, kayaking along the shore or exploring its trails.
Lake Anita State Park is one of Iowa’s newer parks, constructed in the 1960s as a popular outdoor recreation destination in southwest Iowa. The centerpiece of the 1,062-acre park is a beautiful 171-acre artificial lake offering expansive fishing and boating opportunities.
Named after J.N. “Ding” Darling, a champion of conservation and nationally renowned editorial cartoonist, Lake Darling State Park in southeast Iowa provides ample opportunity for family picnics, lake recreation and woodland hikes. The park offers winter activities, including snowmobiling and cross country skiing, and visitors are encouraged to cozy up in a year-round cabin for a weekend getaway. Schedule your next large gathering in the newly renovated park lodge. From its 302-acre lake to its wooded hills and valleys, Lake Darling offers something for every outdoor enthusiast.
Lake Keomah State Park near Oskaloosa in southern Iowa features 366 acres of beautiful woods and picnic areas along an 84-acre lake. Deep woods and marshy areas provide habitat for a variety of wildlife including bullfrogs and blue heron. In the fall, the lake’s trees and shrubs illuminate the environment with their vibrant colors. The park is named after the counties of Keokuk and Mahaska, and many of its facilities such as shelters and day-use lodge were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.
Named after Thomas Macbride, the “father” of Iowa conservation, Lake Macbride State Park is a popular lakeside destination with family friendly outdoor activities. Several multi-use trails wind around the lake, featuring the sights and sounds of Iowa’s native birds. In the summer, soak up the sun by kayaking, paddling or swimming in the lake. Whether you’re visiting for an afternoon or a weekend, Lake Macbride features numerous amenities to enjoy year round.
Lake Manawa is one of western Iowa’s premier spots for boating, hiking or just relaxing outdoors. More than 1,500 acres surround the lake, originally constructed in 1881 after a Missouri River flood. It continues to be a major outdoor recreation center for thousands of visitors. A popular feature is the Dream Playground, one of the largest ADA accessible playgrounds at a park in Midwest. “Manawa” is a Native American term meaning peace and comfort, making it the perfect spot to read a book, have a picnic or enjoy the outdoors during your visit.
A hotspot for equestrian trail riding and camping, Lake of Three Fires State Park in southwest Iowa provides diverse outdoor recreation opportunities. The park’s 85-acre lake is a local destination for boaters and anglers, and several open picnic areas are available near the lake. Lake of Three Fires was dedicated in 1935 and is named after a group of Native Americans from the Potawatomi tribe who once inhabited the area known as the “Fire Nation.”
Named after the famous Native American Chief Wapello, Lake Wapello State Park boasts a variety of outdoor opportunities. More than 1,000 acres of beautiful wooded hillsides offer scenic picnic areas, and the lake provides a relaxing atmosphere for activities such as canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The pueblo style architecture of the Lake Wapello beach house, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, makes it one of the most unique buildings in the state park system.
Ledges State Park is one of Iowa’s most historic and unique nature destinations, especially for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. A four-mile trail system winds through steep slopes and scenic overviews, with sandstone ledges towering 100 feet above the Des Moines River. Numerous 1930s CCC structures can be viewed throughout the park including an iconic stone bridge spanning Pea's Creek. An ideal destination for the seasoned hiker, daytime picnickers and campers, Ledges State Park takes visitors on a breathtaking excursion amongst Iowa’s natural beauty.
Lewis and Clark State Park in western Iowa is both a picturesque park and a historic location along the Lewis and Clark expedition trail from 1804. The park is a popular destination for boating, fishing and other outdoor recreation, with an opportunity to engage in history at the Visitors Center, on a working keelboat and at an annual festival each June.
Loess Hills State Forest (LHSF) is located in western Iowa in Harrison and Monona Counties. It is comprised of 4 units totaling 11,600 acres. The Little Sioux Unit, 3,825 acres, lies between the towns of Little Sioux and Pisgah. The Preparation Canyon Unit, 4,125 acres, is located north of the Town of Pisgah. This unit has a small lake with good fishing. An overlook, constructed in 1997 with REAP monies, provides visitors with a spectacular view of the forest, prairies, the Missouri River Bottomlands, and Nebraska.
With more caves than any state park, Maquoketa Caves is one of Iowa’s most unique outdoor attractions. Enormous bluffs tower throughout the park, and a six-mile trail system winds through geologic formations and forests brimming with natural beauty. As one of the state’s earliest state parks, Maquoketa Caves has been a popular destination for picnickers and hikers since the 1860s. Grab your hiking shoes and a flashlight before traveling to Maquoketa Caves, because this state park is nothing short of adventure.
Marble Beach State Park features the largest campground in the Iowa Great Lakes region. The park provides easy access to lake recreation on Spirit Lake, Iowa’s biggest natural lake and a hotspot for fishing, including walleye, northern pike, muskellunge and panfish. Marble Beach is one of several state parks in the Great Lakes region, a popular year-round recreation destination in Iowa.
McIntosh Woods State Park is a 60-acre natural enclave on the northwest shore of Clear Lake in northern Iowa. A variety of recreational activities include fishing, boating, kayaking and more. Visitors can enjoy a unique camping experience in one of two yurts, which are the only yurts in the Iowa state park system. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing are popular winter activities at the park.
Mines of Spain State Recreation Area in Dubuque was once a trading post and village site for the Mesquakie tribe, as well as a productive lead mine during the 1800s. The Julien Dubuque Monument, a National Historic Landmark, sits high above the Mississippi River and is the burial site for Iowa’s first European settler. Today, the recreation area is a National Historic Landmark, while providing ample outdoor recreation and nature enjoyment throughout its 1,300 acres.
Abundant in wooded hills and scenic valleys, Nine Eagles State Park is one of southern Iowa’s most picturesque state parks. Native plant species are scattered throughout the park and provide excellent cover for birds and wildlife. Visitors can enjoy six miles of bridle trails and nine miles of hiking trails. Shaded picnic spots with tables and fireplaces can be found throughout the 1,100-acre park.
Palisades-Kepler State Park is a beautiful outdoor destination on the banks of the Cedar River outside Cedar Rapids. Dramatic river bluffs, deep ravines, majestic hardwood trees and an abundance of wildlife characterize the area. Established in 1922, Louis H. Kepler donated his estate to the park in 1928, nearly doubling its size. Much of the park’s rustic character can be found in park structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Famed for its majestic views of the Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park is one of Iowa’s premier nature destinations. Located on a national scenic byway, the park features 11 miles of trails brimming with scenic bluffs and valleys. Walk the half-mile trail to see Bridal Veil Falls, hike to Point Ann overlooking the nearby town of McGregor or see where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers meet atop a 500-foot bluff. A hiker’s delight and one of the most picturesque regions in the state, Pikes Peak is a must for anyone wanting to see the breathtaking views of Iowa.
Dedicated in 1923, Pilot Knob in northern Iowa is one of the oldest in the state park system. Shelters, bridges, an amphitheater and an observation tower are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and built by the CCC in the 1930s. Visitors can stand atop the tower on “Pilot Knob” and enjoy scenic vistas of the park. Visitors can also discover unique wildlife and some of the state’s most unique ecological areas.
Pine Lake State Park is a hidden gem with wooded trails, deep ravines, and scenic lake views in the midst of Iowa’s rolling farmland. Historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) can be found throughout the park, including the Pine Lodge, beach house and stone cabins, which have been carefully restored. Pine Lake is filled with beautiful picnic areas to enjoy a quiet setting by the river or an overlook of the park’s lake. The park originally was home to Iowa’s southernmost stand of native pine trees which were wiped out by a severe hailstorm in August 2009; today hundreds of caged tree seedlings are scattered throughout the park as part of a reforestation effort.
Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area in Linn County is a premier outdoor destination for fishing and boating. The state recreation area was developed in the 1960s to create accessible lake recreation for eastern Iowa communities. Several miles of trails, a large lake and nearby hunting help make Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area a popular spot for several year-round recreational activities.
Prairie Rose State Park is a 422-acre park along scenic hills in southwest Iowa. The park is named after the small town, Village of Prairie Rose, which was once located near the park’s current location. The lake is the focal point of the park, and visitors enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities from hiking to sail boating, along with cross country skiing in the winter.
Preparation Canyon State Park, in the heart of Loess Hills in western Iowa, is a historic site on the Mormon Trail. The town of Preparation was originally founded by Mormons, but faded away by 1900. Today, the rustic park is situated in Loess Hills State Forest, offering some of Iowa most primitive camping and rugged hiking opportunities.
Red Haw State Park is a beautiful year-round destination offering several recreational activities in the 649-acre park. Red Haw is well known for springtime red buds blooming abundantly around the lake, drawing visitors and photographers to see the beautiful pink blossoms. Visitors also can enjoy swimming and boating in the summer, or cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.
Rock Creek State Park is a premier camping destination in central Iowa, offering a variety of outdoor activities, including boating and paddling, year-round fishing and horseback riding. Nearly 200 campsites comprise the park’s beautiful campground, with several sites available on the water’s edge or in wooded areas.
Shimek State Forest includes the site of the northernmost battlefield of the Civil War. It’s also one of Iowa’s largest contiguous forests, named after early conservationist Dr. Bohumil Shimek. Thousands of forest acres were planted here by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s and 1940s to correct overgrazed land. Today Shimek is loved for its expansive areas great for any outdoor activity, including hunting and fishing, camping and picnicking, or simply getting outside and enjoying nature.
Springbrook State Park encompasses 930 acres of rolling hills and mature timber. Many of the park’s structures were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, creating a nostalgic setting for park visitors. A multifamily cabin called the Sherburne House is perfect for large families or groups. The park is located near numerous small communities in west-central Iowa, offering nearby dining and shopping opportunities.
Stephens State Forest, showcasing CCC forestry work from the 1930s, is Iowa’s largest forest. Stephens is home to many experimental and research-related plantings of diverse and unique species like tulip poplar, bald cypress, ponderosa pine and many more. This forest is a great choice for a hike with 31 miles of trails, especially in the spring when the ephemerals bloom. Other amenities include four ponds, public hunting and pack-in campsites.
Stone State Park is considered an “urban wildlife sanctuary” on the edge of Sioux City and in the heart of the Loess Hills. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built many of the park’s structures including entrance portals, the Calumet shelter, and the rustic stone lodge. Visitors can explore the natural history of the park by walking its miles of trails, looking for wildlife and birds, or at the nearby Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.
Union Grove State Park, established in 1938, is a popular outdoor recreation area in east-central Iowa. The 110-acre Union Grove Lake is the focal point of the park, and several shaded picnic areas are available near the water. Anglers enjoy fishing for crappie, bluegill and northern pike, and visitors can experience several outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching or camping.
Viking Lake State Park is a popular lake and camping destination with numerous recreational opportunities. A large portion of the 1,000-acre park has been left in its natural state and is abundant in wild flowers and plants. Beavers, turkeys, ducks and white-tailed deer are often spotted at the park. Native American tribes once camped and lived in the area, based on artifacts found when the lake was built
Volga River State Recreation Area in scenic northeast Iowa is often referred to as “Little Switzerland” because of its rugged topography. Old steel bridges cross the Volga River and striking rock formations, prairie areas and natural woodlands characterize the 5,700-acre area. A variety of wildlife, including deer, red fox and beavers are often spotted at Volga River, which is open to public hunting area during hunting season.
Walnut Woods State Park is a tranquil destination for anyone seeking the outdoors not far from the state’s capital city. The park is home to Iowa’s largest stand of black walnut trees, with one of the park system’s finest examples of a 1930s CCC-era lodge. Nearby, launch a canoe at the Purple Martin Water Resource Area or observe the purple martins that inhabit the area. These fascinating birds have their own unique establishment near the lake.
Wapsipinicon State Park sits on the edge of the charming town of Anamosa, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the park’s structures, including the stone arch bridge, lodge and shelters were handcrafted by prisoners from the nearby Anamosa State Penitentiary and remain historic icons to visit. Wapsipinicon is abundant in unique formations and geology, so make sure to take your time exploring the natural wonders of this state park.
As a site on the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail, Waubonsie State Park in southwest Iowa is known for its exceptional vistas of Iowa’s unique Loess Hills and the Nebraska plains. Its extensive trail system offers something for the avid mountain biker, equestrians looking for a relaxing ride, or anyone eager to hike amongst the tranquil surroundings of the park’s ridgetop prairies and shaded woodland valleys. With nearly 2,000 acres of recreational opportunity and quiet beauty, Waubonsie State Park is an Iowa gem waiting to be explored.
One of the most photographed Iowa state parks, at Wildcat Den State Park, visitors will find both historical and natural treasures to explore. Trails wind through a variety of terrain, leading to geological formations along the trail’s sandstone bluffs. Visit the Pine Creek Grist Mill, the oldest working grist mill between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, for a glimpse into Iowa’s past. Whether you’re looking to explore history or enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors, Wildcat Den State Park is the ideal destination.
Wilson Island State Recreation Area in western Iowa encompasses 544 acres of dense cottonwood stands. Seclusion is one of the area's greatest assets and spacious campsites, hiking trails and picnic spots provide a welcome retreat. The recreation area borders the Missouri River and is adjacent to the Loess Hills, providing a home base for numerous outdoor recreation opportunities.
“Outside” magazine named the Backpack Trail at Yellow River State Forest the best hike in Iowa as part of their “America’s Top 50 Hikes – The Finest in Every State” article. Along with the Backpack Trail, all of the trails in Yellow River are open year-round and range from relatively easy hikes to moderate. You can also see Iowa’s only fire tower in this forest. Yellow River State Forest is perfect for anyone looking for a true backpacking experience or taking a great hike!