DNR events have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Safety of our users, attendees, partners and staff is most important. When possible, events will be rescheduled and that information will be distributed accordingly. Please check this site frequently for the latest closures, postponements and updates.
Lake Darling State Park

Named after J.N. “Ding” Darling, a champion of conservation and nationally renowned editorial cartoonist, Lake Darling State Park in southeast Iowa provides ample opportunity for family picnics, lake recreation and woodland hikes. The park offers winter activities, including snowmobiling and cross country skiing, and visitors are encouraged to cozy up in a year-round cabin for a weekend getaway. Schedule your next large gathering in the newly renovated park lodge. From its 302-acre lake to its wooded hills and valleys, Lake Darling offers something for every outdoor enthusiast.


Hike several trails at Lake Darling, winding through wetland habitats around the lake, remnants of native prairie and all the way to an 1800s cemetery. The trails are composed of a variety of crushed rock and grass for use by hikers, mountain bikers, cross country skiers and snowmobilers. A 1.5 mile paved fishing trail along the south shoreline is accessible for all abilities.

Boat in the waters of Lake Darling or relax at the park’s beach area. Any size motor is allowed on the lake at a “no wake” speed. Paddle boats, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and a rowboat are available to rent at the Friends of Lake Darling Boat Rental Concession.

The Friends of Lake Darling Boat Rental is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Hours of operation: Friday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Fish for catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, bullheads, bluegills and carp at Lake Darling. Anglers can fish from the fishing jetty, along the fishing trail or accessible fishing pier

Stay overnight in one of 11 cabins. The modern cabins are ADA accessible and contain a full kitchen and two bedrooms with a queen-sized bed. The camping cabins feature basic kitchen appliances and twin bunk beds. For a more primitive experience, check out Lake Darling’s large campground featuring full-hookup, electric and non-electric sites with modern shower and restroom facilities along with a playground and dump station. Advanced campsite and cabin reservations can be made online.

Reserve one of two shelters or the day-use lodge during your visit. The newly renovated lodge is a picturesque venue with expansive ceiling beams and a full kitchen perfect for weddings, conferences and other large gatherings. A covered patio overlooks the lake. Reservations can be made through the online reservation system.

Lake Darling State Park
111 Lake Darling Road
Brighton, IA 52540
Ph. 319-694-2323

STATEWIDE FACILITY CLOSURES: All pit latrines and port-a-potties are closed until April 15, 2020. Due to lack of restroom facilities, all camping cabins and shelters are closed until April 15, 2020. Campgrounds are open but campers must provide their own self-contained bathroom until park restrooms are available. Self-contained includes bathrooms in RVs/travel trailers/5th wheels and portable camping toilets. All modern restroom and shower facilities are currently closed for the winter season. Many parks try to have modern campground facilities open in mid-April, weather permitting. Some parks open modern camping facilities mid to late April, weather permitting. All lodges are currently closed through April 30, 2020. Playgrounds are not cleaned and sanitized. DNR strongly recommends visitors avoid playgrounds to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 - user discretion is advised. (POSTED 3/30/2020)
Campground electricity, water hydrants, and sewer dump stations remain available.
  • Hiking trails
  • Playground 
  • Swimming beach
  • Boat rental
  • Boat ramps (2)
  • Paddlesport rental
  • Fishing pier; ADA accessible
  • Fishing jetty
  • Fish cleaning station
  • Day-use lodge (1)
  • Shelters (2)
  • Modern restrooms
  • Showers
  • Camping cabins (5)
  • Family modern cabins (6); ADA accessible
  • Electric campsites (50)
  • Full hook-up campsites (15)
  • Non electric campsites (15)
  • Dump station