North Iowa boasts 50 county parks offering a wide selection of amenities and recreational opportunities.
Whether your goals are a shady picnic spot and a playground, a favored fishing hole or a campground with facilities ranging from primitive to modern, North Iowa’s county parks have plenty of options to fit your needs.
In addition, there are numerous other conservation, wildlife and hunting areas managed by county conservation boards.
Here is a rundown of North Iowa county parks:
Cerro Gordo County
• INGEBRETSON PARK — 203 Ash St. E., Thornton. Situated on a branch of Beaver Dam Creek just off Interstate 35. There are 23 campsites with electricity, a shower house, dump station and water fill available. Camping fees are $12 per night with electricity and $7 per night for a primitive site. No reservations accepted.
• LIME CREEK CONSERVATION AREA AND NATURE CENTER — 3501 Lime Creek Road, Mason City. An extensive trail network provides space for biking, hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing, offering access to a 440-acre diverse, natural area. A nature center offers conservation displays, library and auditorium.
• LINN GROVE PARK — 518 Madison St. W., Rockwell. Provides complete camping facilities on 38 acres along a meander of Beaver Dam Creek. There are 66 electrical sites, a shower house, dump station and water fill available. Camping fees are $12 per night with electricity and $7 per night for a primitive site. No reservations accepted.
• SHELL ROCK RIVER GREENBELT & PRESERVE — Nora Springs to Rock Falls. A 7½-mile drive, walk, canoe trip or ride along the limestone bluffs on the Shell Rock River goes through 509 acres of woods, meadows and ponds. Primitive camping and picnic areas available at the preserve.
• SPRING CREEK PRESERVE — 15829 300th Street, Mason City. The 34-acre park features a spring, limestone bluffs along the creek and fishing access on the Winnebago River.
• STRAND PARK — 20057 340th St., Plymouth. The 33-acre park on the Shell Rock River features a tennis and basketball court, playground, picnic area, shelter and canoe access.
• WILKINSON PIONEER PARK — 21425 Vine Ave., Rock Falls. A beautiful 80-acre park with complete camping facilities; 42 electrical sites, shower house, dump station and water fill available. A covered bridge and remnant of native prairie are located in the park. Camping fees are $12 per night with electricity and $7 per night for a primitive site. No reservations accepted.
• ACKLEY CREEK PARK — 2775 Indigo Ave. Nestled along Ackley Creek 2 miles southwest of Marble Rock, this park features 37 modern camping sites with electricity and water, 10 primitive camping sites, showers and restrooms, two picnic shelters, a playground and hiking trails in the woods. The cost is $15 per night for modern camping sites and $10 per night for primitive sites.
• COLWELL PARK — 2962 140th St. This primitive campground 2½ miles west of Colwell features a picnic shelter and fishing access to the Little Cedar River.
• FOSSIL & PRAIRIE PARK PRESERVE AND CENTER — 1227 215th St. Stroll through acres of native Iowa prairie located 1 mile west of Rockford, discover and collect ancient sea life fossils from the quarry and visit the historic beehive kilns used by the Rockford Brick & Tile Co. The Visitor Center, open 1 to 4 p.m. daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day and 1 to 4 p.m. weekends in May, September and October, contains exhibits that interpret the unique features of the park. No admission fee.
• GATES BRIDGE ACCESS — 2920 Kirkwood Road. This park along the Shell Rock River 4 miles south of Marble Rock features river access, fishing, picnicking and six primitive campsites.
• ROTARY WILDLIFE AREA —1661 Rotary Park Road. This quiet picnic destination near Charles City also is a place for fishing on the Cedar River. The park has an open-sided picnic shelter, hiking trials and river access for canoes.
• WEST IDLEWILD CAMPGROUND — 1374 Quarry Road. This primitive campground 2 miles northwest of Floyd features an improved canoe ramp, fishing access, a picnic shelter, a playground, hunting and hiking trials. The cost for camping is $5 per night.
• CREEDEN PRAIRIE — 5 miles north and 2 miles east of Hansell, 420 acres including large plots of native prairie. The park features canoeing, fishing, hunting, undeveloped natural area and geocaching.
• INGEBRETSON MEMORIAL GROVE — 2 miles west and 1 mile north of Sheffield. The 118-acre park includes a hiking trail, undeveloped natural area, cross country skiing and geocaching.
• INTERSTATE LAKE PARK — 26 acres and includes a boat ramp, canoeing, fishing, hunting, ice fishing and geocaching. It is 2½ miles west of Coulter and 1 mile south of Highway 3.
• MALLORY PARK — Located 4½ miles south and 2 miles west of Hampton. The 71-acre park features picnicking, picnic shelter, electricity, drinking water, restrooms, handicapped access, tent and trailer camping, hiking trails, fishing.
• MAYNES GROVE — 280-acre park is located about 4 miles south of Hampton on Highway 65. It includes two ponds which allow fishing, canoeing and kayaking; however, no boat wakes or swimming are allowed. The park also features horseback riding, hunting, trails, prairie and timber areas, trails, picnic tables, benches, a grill shelter, restrooms, a fire ring, observation tower and Four Seasons Lodge, which can be rented.
• NORTH HANSELL SHOOTING COMPLEX— Shotgun range, rifle range with targets to 500 yards, a pistol range and an archery range. Open to public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays through late fall. There is a $10 per day user fee or a $50 pass for the season. Application for season pass may be made at the complex.
• POPEJOY CONSERVATION PARK — Features picnicking, picnic shelter with electricity, drinking water, restrooms, handicapped access, primitive camping only, canoeing, rental facilities, sledding/tobogganing, snowmobiling and geocaching. The park is 61 acres and 1½ miles southwest of Popejoy.
• ROBINSON PARK — 30 acres and includes picnicking, picnic shelter, electricity, drinking water, restrooms, handicapped access, tent and trailer camping, hiking trail, fishing and geocaching.
• ROLLING PRAIRIE TRAIL — A multi-use recreational trail that has trail heads in both Coulter and Hampton with a spur to Beeds Lake State Park. It is approximately 13 miles in length with the Hampton to Beeds Lake stretch surfaced in blacktop and Beeds Lake to Coulter surfaced in a crushed lime surface. Great for biking, walking and snowmobiling in the winter time.
• WKW CONSERVATION PARK — 54 acres and 1 mile north and 1 mile east of Hampton. It includes picnicking, picnic shelter, electricity, drinking water, restrooms, handicap access, tent and trailer camping, hiking trail, interpretive trail, rental facilities, cross country skiing and geocaching.
• CONCORD PARK — A 2-acre park south of Garner. Has a shelter house available to rent for $20 fee.
• CRYSTAL LAKE PARK — On the east shore of Crystal Lake at 1045 320th St., rural Forest City. State park managed by the Hancock County Conservation Board. It is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. There is a playground, disc golf course, swimming beach, boating, fishing, hiking trail and campground. There are about 15 primitive campsites and 65 modern campsite with electricity for $15 per night. Primitive sites are $10 per night. The shelter house is available for rent for $20 per day. Three modern log cabins with air conditioning are available for rent by reservation only from April 15 to Nov. 15 for $50 to $80 per night. For detailed information and reservations, go to www.hancock-countyia.org/conservation.html or call 641-923-2720.
• EAGLE LAKE STATE PARK — 2510 Lake Ave., Britt, is also managed by the Hancock County Conservation Board. The 21-acre park has a handicapped-accessible bird watching deck, hiking trail, restrooms, playground equipment and shelter house. The shelter house is available for rent for $20 per day.
• ELDRED SHERWOOD PARK — 2185 120th St., 3 miles east of Goodell. Has a small lake, horseshoe pits, modern restroom, a 2-mile trail system, shelter house and picnic area. The shelter house is available for rental for $20 per day. A campground offers 40 modern sites with electricity at $15 per night and five primitive campsites for $10 per night. The park is typically open from mid-April to mid-October.
• CEDAR BRIDGE PARK — Located just west of Osage on Highway 9, this park has 18 designated campsites with electrical and water hookups, modern toilet and shower facility, playground equipment and a dump station. Campers must self-register at the entrance. The Cedar River is easy to access from this park for fishing or boating. The Cedar River Greenbelt Trail head is also located nearby. Camping fees for electric sites are $18 per night. Non-electric sites are $10 per night. This is also an equestrian campground with hitching posts at nine campsites. The fee for equestrian camping is $19 a night. There is an equestrian dump station that all horse campers are asked to use. A modern cabin is also available for rental year round. For reservation, contact the MCCB office at 641-732-5204.
• HALVORSON PARK — This 10.6-acre park is located 1½ miles south of St. Ansgar on Foothill Avenue, along the Cedar River. The park features boat ramps and docks, handicapped accessible fishing, a swim beach, playground equipment, picnic shelters, modern toilet and shower facility, electric and water hookups and dump station. Approximately 50 non-designated campsites are available with electricity. Campers must self-register at the entrance. Cost is $18 for electric, $10 without.
• INTERSTATE PARK — This scenic park along the Cedar River is located on the west edge of Mitchell on Hickory Avenue. It is the site of the Mitchell Mill Dam and the historic hydro-electric powerhouse. This facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the only operating hydro-electric power plants in the state. Boating, fishing, water skiing and swim beach are available. The camping site offers electric and water hookups, dump station, two shelter houses, a modern toilet and shower facility and playground equipment. Campers must self-register at the entrance. The 40-site campground charges $18 for electric, $10 without.
• NEW HAVEN POTHOLES PARK — This 168-acre outdoor classroom has 1½ miles of mowed self-guided nature trails. The area is designed for “quiet type” recreation such as hiking, bird and animal observation, photography and cross-country skiing. Habitats include forest, marsh, prairie and the Little Cedar River. Off-road parking with walk-in access is provided. It is located 6 miles east and 1½ miles north of Osage, just off Shadow Avenue.
• OTRANTO PARK — This 5-acre park, located ¼ of a mile east of Otranto on 480th Street, is a 20-site, non-designated campground. It has electrical and water hookups, modern toilet and shower facility, playground equipment, small picnic shelter, small watercraft access and dump station. It is a popular site to put in on the Cedar River to canoe float. Campers must self-register at the entrance prior to camping. Cost is $16 for electric, $10 without.
• PINICON ALDERS WILDLIFE AREA — This 330-acre area, located ½ mile west of McIntire on 470th Street, provides habitat that includes mature hardwood forest, native prairies and grasslands. The Wapsipinicon River flows through the area and is stocked with trout by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The area has a newer cabin with electricity. The cabin is furnished with futons, table and chairs, mini fridge, microwave, and a fireplace. Nearby are equestrian, hiking and ski trails. There is electric available and pit toilets. Cost is $40 per night. Contact MCCB for reservation at 641-732-5204.
• PIONEER PARK — Located 6 miles east of Osage and 4 miles north on Shadow Avenue. The campground has been updated and has seven designated gravel campsites, with electric and water hookups and pit toilets. The shelter house is totally enclosed with electric and picnic tables. There is a $10 camping fee.
• RIVERSIDE PARK — Located just east of Stacyville on 465th Street, on Little Cedar River, has modern toilet and shower facility, electrical and water hookups, dump station, volleyball sand court, regulation softball diamond, shelter house and access for small watercrafts. Cost is $16 for electric sites, $10 without.
• AMBROSON RECREATION AREA — 3035 Iowa Highway 9, Leland. A former rest area, the multi-use recreation complex contains a mixture of uplands and wetlands that provide wildlife habitat. Located along the Winnebago River, and containing 21 acres of ponds, the area is popular for fishing. The area is a an access point for the Winnebago River Water Trail. Canoeing and boating with electric motors only. There are picnic tables, grills, an open shelter, playground and drinking water.
• DAHLE PARK — 21179 485th Street, Lake Mills. Situated on the Winnebago River, the park offers fishing in the river and adjacent ponds. There are eight camping spots with electricity and water in a quiet oak timber. Camping is $5 per night. The park is the northern access point for the Winnebago River Water Trail.
• FLORENCE RECREATION AREA AND TRAP SHOOTING RANGE — 42435 60th Avenue, Thompson, with a 3-acre, spring-fed fishing pond. Boating with electric motor only and canoeing is permitted. There are picnic tables, grills, an open shelter and playground. The area also contains restored prairie and is popular with pheasant hunters and trap shooters. Public shooting times are posted on the website. All are subject to weather.
• HOGSBACK WILDLIFE AREA AND TARGET SHOOTING RANGE — 48050 210th Avenue, Lake Mills. Mixed oak forest, bluffs, wildflowers and native grass are popular with deer, squirrel, turkey and wildfowl hunters. Target shooters also enjoy the target shooting range but must use only paper targets — downloadable from www.targetz.com.
• LINDEN TOWNSHIP CEMETERY — 38128 90th Avenue, Thompson. Managed by the Winnebago County Conservation Board as a fine example of virgin prairie.
• THORPE PARK — 34496 110th Avenue, Forest City. This multiple-use area contains a wetland popular with waterfowl hunters in the fall and 15-acre Lake Catherine which features year-round fishing. There are 15 campsites; 13 with electricity and water, two that are primitive. A rental cabin for up to six people is also available at Lake Catherine for $50 per night on weekdays and $65 per night on weekends. To see the cabin rental calendar, visit www.winnebagoccb.com. To make a cabin reservation call 641-565-3390.
• WINNEBAGO RIVER WATER TRAIL — This is one of Iowa’s newer designated water trails. North canoe put-in is at Dahle Park while south access is at Pammel Park in Forest City. Additional accesses along this 27-mile water trail are located at the Lande River Conservation Area and at Ambroson Recreation Area. A detailed downloadable brochure and map of the Winnebago River Trail can be found at www.winnebagoccb.com or by calling 641-565-3390.
• KUENNEN’S QUARRY — 1555 450th St., Northwood. Two former limestone quarries primarily used for picnicking, swimming and fishing. There is a handicapped-accessible fishing pier and concrete boat ramp. A fully enclosed log cabin shelter house with heat and air conditioning can be reserved for $70 per day. An open shelter can be reserved for $35 by calling 641-324-1524. There are six open picnic table pavilions with grills. There is running water and restroom facilities.
• OCHYEE YAHOLA PARK — 1284 495th St. Northwood, offers camping, hiking and equestrian trails. There are four campsites in the park with electricity but no water. Fees are $10 per night with self-registration. An open shelter with a fire ring is available and can be reserved by calling 641-324-1524.
• SILVER LAKE PARK — 497 500th St., Northwood, is located on the north shore of Silver Lake. The park entrance is 200 yards west of the fishing jetty which can be spotted from the road. An open shelter overlooks the lake. It can be reserved for $10 by calling 641-324-1524. There are eight campsites for $10 per night with self-registration.
• WORTH COUNTY LAKE — 1717 420th St. , Kensett. Former gravel pit provides swimming, fishing and location for picnics. There are horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court, picnic tables, and an open shelter house that can be reserved for $10 by calling 641-324-1524.
• BINGHAM PARK — 2231 Victor Ave., Rowan. Twelve acres of timber along Iowa River.
• LAKE CORNELIA PARK — 1768 O’Brien Ave., Clarion. The 122-acre park owned and maintained by the Wright County Conservation Board is located midway between Clarion and Belmond. There is a beach, boat ramp, harbor, shelter house, shower facilities, a ¾-mile grass trail, playground areas for children and a ball field. Eight campsites are available along the lakeshore. Seventy campsites have 50-amp outlets and 14 have sewer and water hookups as well. The campground does not require reservations. Camping is $15 per night for sites with electricity and $20 per night for sites with water and electricity.
• OAKDALE PARK — 1739 Buchanan Ave., Renwick. This 127-acre park is located in a heavily timbered area with woodland wildflowers along the Boone River. There are two open shelters, four campsites and modern facilities. A shelter house is available to rent.
• PIKES TIMBER — 1850 Quincy Ave., Belmond. Heavily timbered area with two open shelters, four campsites with electricity, a hand-pumped well and primitive latrine.
Sources: County conservation officials and websites.