Lake Iowa Park Equestrian Trail is OPEN

The Lake Ridge Equestrian Trail is open. Please keep in mind that Pheasant Ridge is a public hunting area.

Lake Ridge Equestrian Trail
Ride at your own risk
Trail heads are located in Lake Iowa Park, accessible from G Ave
and Pheasant Ridge Wildlife Area, accessible from H Ave
Day use only, no overnight camping
Stay on designated trail
No water hydrants available at this time
Pack in pack out trash
No dogs off leash in Lake Iowa Park
Portions of trail shared with disc golfers and hikers
Most of the trail is in open prairie, bring sunscreen and water
Trail is open year-round, weather permitting
Pheasant Ridge is open to public hunting
Lake Iowa Park has an archery deer management hunt

Trail closings will be posted on,, and at the trail heads

Office Number: 319-655-8465
Park After Hours: 319-529-9907
Questions or Comments email:

COVID19 Openings and Closures

Lake Iowa Park openings as of June 24, 2020:

  • All 122 sites at Lake Iowa Campground are open for use.
  • Both shower houses with restrooms are open. Camp hosts clean them in the mornings and check them throughout the day to sanitize them on the weekends or busier times.
  • All pit toilets in the park are open
  • Kayaks and jon boats are available to rent. Please see the camp hosts or ranger on duty to rent a boat.
  • All waterways and trails are open to the public. Please practice social distancing.
  • The beach and roped swimming area is open to the public. Please practice social distancing.
  • All playgrounds and the Nature Center Playscape are open. Please practice social distancing.
  • Cabins, Shelters, the Roundhouse and Nature Center are open for reservations. Call 319-655-8465 for Nature Center, Roundhouse and shelter reservations and for cabin rentals go to
  • The Equestrian trail is open for use weather permitting.  Check trail conditions and possible closures here on our home page.

Lake Iowa Park closures as of June 24, 2020:

  • The Nature Center is closed to visitors unless you have a rental in the lower level. Guests must then stay in the lower level.

Lake Iowa Park Bigfoot Contest

Bigfoot has been spotted at Lake Iowa Park! And we have a fun activity to get you outdoors to try and find him.

The Lake Iowa Bigfoot 2020 contest will run June 1, 2020 to September 1, 2020.

How to enter: Decipher the clues and find Bigfoot as he moves around Lake Iowa Park. He will move to a new spot every other week at Lake Iowa Park, and clues to his whereabouts will be posted every Monday on our facebook pages. When you find him, take a selfie and post it to our facebook page with #lakeiowabigfoot2020.

Entries will be entered into a random monthly drawing for a one night free camping for the months of June, July, and August. You may enter every time he moves (twice per month).

All entries will be entered into a grand prize giveaway package at the end of the summer for the following items:

4 zero gravity chairs, 14 oz YETIrambler, Alps Mountaineering Wavelength blanket 54” x 80”, REI ENO Atlas suspension system, REI ENO double nest hammock, REI Trail 40 day-plus comfort blanket. (all items are pictured)

How the winner will be announced: Each monthly winner of one night free camping and the grand prize package winner will be announced on our facebook pages.

Follow the link for full rules here.


Floristic Inventory of Lake Iowa Park

Floristic Inventory for Lake Iowa Park

Lake Iowa park, managed by Iowa County Conservation (ICC), has acres of beautiful restored prairie, but it also has areas that could be true remnants, areas that were never cropped or disturbed. ICC obtained a grant from the Iowa Native Plant Society (INPS) to find out if there are any remnant areas left at Lake Iowa Park and how to best manage them. This information will create a baseline for data collection and help ICC create a management plan to help these remnant areas survive for generations.
Dr. Thomas Rosburg was chosen to complete the floristic inventory with a background including a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, masters in plant ecology and bachelor of science in Fish and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University. With his impressive resume and wealth of knowledge we were very pleased when he agreed to the survey, and with the monetary help of the INPS grant, ICC was able to afford the project.
Iowa County staff created a map that highlighted the areas most likely to have true remnant prairies. These areas were selected using GIS software, aerial imagery, and descriptions of Lake Iowa Park from previous staff members. Using this information, ten areas, 57 acres in total, were selected for study. Dr. Rosburg performed meandering plant surveys on June 5th, July 12th, and September 8th of 2019 to better capture the different growing seasons. He observed 245 different vascular plant species, including many native species.
Dr. Rosburg lays out evidence in his report that Lake Iowa Park may have remnant prairie, which is very exciting and encouraging news. His report includes how to manage these remnant areas. The most pressing issue is the encroachment of invasive species. Dr. Rosberg suggests using multiple stressors against the invasive species at the proper timing. Iowa County Conservation will put areas containing potential remnants at the top of the list when developing the management plan and deciding where to start fighting back against the invasive species that have taken hold in our areas.
We are very excited to see some unusual species and very pleased to know that we have remnant prairies still in Iowa County, Iowa, a place that has been so changed from the original landscape. Thank you very much for the hard work from Dr. Rosburg. Thank you to the Iowa Native Plant Society for making this project possible.


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Link to Dr. Rosburg’s full report:

Creepy Camping time is here again!

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The staff at Iowa County Conservation is busily preparing escape room clues and lining up talent for the night hike for their annual Creepy Camping weekend that will be held September 27th and 28th.

We have extended the very popular escape room to include 5 more time slots for adults on Friday evening. With these additional time slots added to the 12 time slots on Saturday there will be 17 opportunities to help save planet Earth from an invasion.  An alien has escaped from Area 51 and teams of 2-5 people have 30 minutes to decipher clues left behind or it will contact the mother ship and life on Earth will cease as we know it. If you and have the skills we need your help!

Kids will have the chance to use their brain power to help find a lost artifact in the Park Poacher Escape Room. Teams of 2-5 kids and 1-2 guardians will have 15 minutes to discover and solve clues that lead to the hidden artifact stolen by poachers.

We are also excited to have the Marengo Haunted Barn host a viewing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Friday evening. Tickets and prop bags can be purchased at the Nature Center on Friday evening by adults 18 and older. Find a sitter for the kids  and come have a crazy fun time. Costumes are welcome! Tickets will cost $5 per person and prop bags will cost $5. Quantities are limited for props. No outside props are allowed.

We are also holding our annual costume contest, campsite decorating contest, and dummy board tournament again this year as well as trick-or-treating in the campground. We will have a professional face painter at the Nature Center from noon – 4pm on Saturday.

The 4 Leaf Clover 4-H club has been growing some great pumpkins for their pumpkin rolling contest on Saturday morning and the Round House.

With so much planned you should be marking your calendar to come to the lake!


Links for registering for the hike and escape rooms:

Friday 7:15pm Backyard Friends Night Hike registration click here

Friday evening Adult Escape Room registration click here

Saturday Kids Escape Room (up to age 16 yrs) click here

Saturday Adult Escape Room (16yrs and older) click here

Iowa County Outdoor Adventure Volunteer Registration

We will host our 6th annual Outdoor Adventure on June 15th from 10am to 3pm.

Volunteers are needed to help with over 12 activities, registration, parking, serving lunch, etc. You are guaranteed a free t-shirt, lunch, and hundreds of smiles from the children who participate.

Click on the link below to register. If you have questions contact us at 319-655-8465 or

2019 Iowa County Outdoor Adventure Registration Open

Our annual Outdoor Adventure is set for June 15th from 10am to 3pm.

This free family event features over a dozen outdoor activities including trap shooting, archery, canoeing and kayaking, fishing and much more! This year we will have a new activity to try out. The Williamsburg scouts will be hosting tomahawk throwing which is sure to be a big hit. We will also welcome back the Conservation Station from Ames.

Kids will get a free t-shirt courtesy of Compass Memorial Healthcare with pre-registration by noon on May 31st for participants 16 and under. Adults do not need to register and will not receive a shirt but will get a free lunch.
Youth must wear the shirt provided for safety reasons.
In order to keep our event running smoothly, guardians must accompany their children during the event.

This event will be held rain or shine, we recommend bringing sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, and other necessities.
Water will be provided.
Registration is only required for the child that is participating. Adults do not register.

The pre-registration deadline to guarantee a free shirt is May 31st.

Creepy Camping 2018

It’s time for our annual Creepy Camping!

We will kick off Creepy Camping with an outdoor showing of “Hotel Transylvania” at dusk (around 7:30 p.m.) on Friday evening. Genoa Bluffs Farms will be offering Ghost Town kettle corn and drinks for sale.

We are excited to bring back some favorite activities and try out some new activities. This year we are replacing the haunted hayride with 2 Escape Rooms.

There will be a room designed for groups of 2-6 people that are 10 years and older. You will discover that someone in your group has been bitten by a werewolf and you have 30 minutes to find the antidote. There will be a series of problems to solve using clues hidden in the main level and children’s area of the Nature Center. Each group must pay $10 at the Nature Center before entering the Escape Room.

The second room is intended for groups of 2-6 that are 9 years old and under. All groups must be chaperoned by an adult. When you enter the lower level of the Nature Center you discover that a thief has been ransacking campsites at Lake Iowa. You have 15 minutes to find the culprit before your campsite is hit. There will be an easier set of problems to solve using hidden clues in the room and a volunteer will be in the room to provide hints. Each group must pay $5 before entering the Escape Room.

There are 12 timeslots available for the older Escape Room and 21 timeslots for the younger Escape Room. Click on the sign up link below to go to our Sign Up Genius page and select the age group you plan to attend. Please limit your sign up to one time slot and only select one slot for one group of 2-6 people. 

Creepy Camping Escape Room Sign Up link

Also new this year is the 4-H Pumpkin Rolling fundraiser sponsored by the Four Leaf Clovers from Williamsburg. Each pumpkin will cost $5 and each participant will try to roll their pumpkin through a Charlie Brown themed obstacle course set up by the Round House in the Lake Iowa Campground. This event begins at 10:00 a.m.

Registration for our Creepy Camping Dummy Board Tournament begins at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday behind the Nature Center on the lower level. The double elimination tournament will begin at 1:00 p.m.

We will hold a costume contest at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday on the lawn in front of the Nature Center. Members of our staff and Friends of Iowa County Conservation Foundation will hand out ribbons for most creative, scariest, best group, funniest and best overall costume. We will also be visiting campsites during the weekend to determine which sites will be awarded “Best Daytime Halloween Decorating” and Best Evening Halloween Decorating”.

At 5:00 p.m. on Saturday we will close off the campground road so that trick-or-treaters can visit campsites from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Sundown Lounge will be selling Halloween pizzas at the Nature Center parking area at the campground host site beginning around noon on Saturday.

We hope everyone enjoys a fun-filled Creepy Camping!