When most people think of Iowa outdoor’s they think of mile after magnificent mile of cornfields. But what they don’t think about is all the amazing destinations hiding within the states borders. From the mysterious Maquoketa Caves State Park, to the rolling Loess Hills, to the amazing Ledges, of Ledges State Park, Iowa has a more diverse landscape than most people realize.
Another one of Iowa’s extraordinary attractions is Lake Red Rock! The lake is the largest in the state with more than 15,000 acres of water!
Aside from soaking in the beauty of the lake, there is also 35,000 acres of beautiful wilderness surrounding the lake! Elk Rock State Park, Cordova Park, and Roberts Creek Park are just a few of the places to explore along the lake shore.
Another great place to explore is the Gladys Black Bird Refuge,this 32 acre refuge is a prime habitat for bald eagles as well as neo-tropical migrants and other wildlife. Lake Red Rock is one of Iowa’s best bird watching areas. Depending on the time of year, you’ll see bald eagles, herons, egrets, pelicans, gulls, ducks and more.
If you enjoy fishing, the lake is home to white bass, black bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, walleye, & many other kinds of fish. Fishing is open year-round, with opportunities during the winter to ice fish in many of the bays or fish open water under the dam. The lake is an ideal location for anglers of all skill levels, and is considered Iowa’s premier destination for crappie fishing.
Don’t Miss: Cordova Park is home to Cordova Tower, an observation tower that stands a staggering 106 feet tall. If you’re brave enough to climb to the top, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing views.
Logistics: Located on the Des Moines River just 45 miles southeast and downriver from Des Moines, and a mere 16 miles from historical Pella.
Best Time: There is never a bad time to visit the lake, in the summer you can enjoy boating and swimming, in the winter there is ice fishing, and eagle watching. I suggest visiting during the week, to avoid any crowds.
Pit Stop: Grab a bite to eat at the Liberty Street Kitchen located along the Molengracht Canal in Pella.
Lodging: Horn’s Ferry Hideaway has two gorgeous cabins located about 50 yards from the banks of the Des Moines River, right below Red Rock Damn, and only a two minute drive from Iowa’s largest lake. For more information click here.
Extended Play: The impressive mile long bridge crosses the lake and is located on Iowa Highway 14. This Iowa landmark is a site to be seen.
Travel Smart: Any lake of this size, can be extremely dangerous. Plan your trip with care and caution. During the summer don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray, and always wear a life jacket.
Bonus Adventure: One of the most popular trails in the area is Volksweg Trail, connecting the town of Pella with Lake Red Rock. Volksweg is a Dutch word, meaning “people’s path,” and it is a 14-mile paved trail perfect for hiking and biking.
For more information on the incredible area click here.