Make it a weekend to remember by exploring not one, not two, but three parks! With less than 100 miles between parks, there’s plenty of time to hike, swim, fish, camp and stargaze.
More One Weekend, Three Park ideas:
DRIFTLESS AREA | EASTERN IOWA | LOESS HILLS | NORTH CENTRAL IOWA | SOUTH CENTRAL IOWA | SOUTHEAST IOWA
1. Viking Lake State Park
The spacious, shady campground located on the lakeshore is one of the most popular in southwest Iowa. The campground includes electrical hookups, full service hookups, non-electrical sites, modern restrooms and showers, and a dump station.
Constructed in 1957, the 137-acre lake contains many bays and projecting points on its 4.5-mile-long shoreline. It is stocked with crappies, bluegills, bass, catfish and bullheads. Swimming is available along the west shore. All boats must operate at “no wake” speed. Pontoons, boats, kayaks and canoes can be rented.
A large portion of the 1,000-acre park has been left in its natural state with a plethora of wildflowers, plants, beavers, turkeys, ducks, shorebirds and white-tailed deer. Many of the park’s hills and valleys were once Native American tribe campsites. Related artifacts were uncovered during the dam’s construction.
2. Waubonsie State Park
Seven miles of foot trails and eight miles of equestrian trails wind along ridges and into gorges and valleys. The Sunset Ridge Interpretive Trail provides the opportunity to learn about many of the park’s important flora while enjoying stunning views.
Two year-round family cabins are available while a studio family cabin is available through the normal recreation season. All have kitchens, bathrooms, heat, air conditioning and stone fireplaces. Five additional cabins are also available, four of which accommodate pets.
In 2005, the park added 642 acres by purchasing the former Wa-Shawtee Girl Scout Camp and its peaceful fishing pond, Lake Virginia. The lake includes a good stock of channel catfish, bluegill and largemouth bass. Canoers and kayakers also enjoy the seven-acre lake.
3. Lake Icaria
The 650-acre lake teems with bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, walleye, wipers and channel catfish. The lake boasts more than 100 fishing structures including brush piles, stake beds, rock piles and more. One fishing pier is handicap accessible.
More than six miles of trails lead visitors across bridges and stairs, along the lake front, and through wooded timber and open native prairie.
A dozen picnic shelters are scattered around the lake, each with stand-up grills and picnic tables. Four shelters are equipped with electricity and may be reserved. Playgrounds, restrooms, water hydrants, trails and lake access are located nearby.