Lake Darling State Park has reopened to visitors but remains a work in progress as contractors put the finishing touches on a complete makeover of this southeast Iowa park.
The park and its namesake lake have both undergone total renovation in partnership with the Lake Darling Friends Group, local communities, landowners, residents, businesses and the Iowa DNR.
The new campground has fewer campsites but each site was enlarged to include a living area. The renovation included new electrical service to the campsites, two new restrooms and about four miles of new roads through the campgrounds and the rest of the park.
Contractors will be completing concrete work on the fishing trail and around the park office and a few other odds and ends. This fall, the landscaping and seeding will be installed.
Lake Darling will not be on the state park campsite reservation system this year.
“We will have first come, first served camping this year,” said Merrill Lucas, park manager at Lake Darling. “We’ve been really busy since reopening. Everybody has really been enjoying it. It would be a good idea to call ahead to check on site availability.”
The camping cabins are currently available, too, and this fall, six new year-round cabins will be added to the park.
Named for famed conservationist and Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling, the park was originally dedicated September 17, 1950.
A formal grand opening is scheduled for September 17.