Lake of Three Fires State Park

A hotspot for equestrian trail riding and camping, Lake of Three Fires State Park in southwest Iowa provides diverse outdoor recreation opportunities. The park’s 85-acre lake is a local destination for boaters and anglers, and several open picnic areas are available near the lake. Lake of Three Fires was dedicated in 1935 and is named after a group of Native Americans from the Potawatomi tribe who once inhabited the area known as the “Fire Nation.”

HHS and DNR Confirm Naegleria fowleri at Lake of Three Fires

Media Contacts:
Alex Carfrae:
Tammie Krausman:

(Des Moines, IA) The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in conjunction with the CDC, have confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri in Lake of Three Fires located in Taylor county.

Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that commonly occurs in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals. In extremely rare cases, it can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection that may result when water containing the amoeba rushes up the nose and reaches the brain.

Earlier this month, a Missouri resident contracted PAM after swimming in the Lake of Three Fires and subsequently died due to the infection.

Across the United States, a total of 31 cases occurred from 2012 to 2021. The low number of infections makes it difficult to know why so few people have been infected compared to the millions of others who used the same or similar waters across the U.S. during the same time period.

With testing now complete, DNR will reopen the beach at Lake of Three Fires on Thursday, July 28, 2022, with signage informing swimmers of the presence of Naegleria fowleri and risk of PAM.

Further testing of additional recreational waters is not planned at this time. There is no rapid, standardized test to detect Naegleria fowleri in water, which is why HHS and DNR recommend that Iowans assume the parasite is present and limit the amount of water that goes up your nose to help reduce your risk of infection. Swimmers are encouraged to be informed and take precautions.

What Iowans should know:

  • Naegleria fowleri is one of many naturally occurring organisms found in freshwater and is more common in southern states. It usually occurs when temperatures increase for prolonged periods of time, resulting in higher water temperatures and lower water levels. Use caution when engaging in water-related activities in warm freshwater during these times.
  • Behaviors associated with the infection include diving or jumping into the water, submerging the head under water, or engaging in other water-related activities that cause water to go up the nose forcefully.
  • Swimmers can reduce their risk by keeping their heads out of the water and using nose clips or plugging their noses when going underwater. Swimmers should also avoid digging or stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the lake or river.
  • People can't get infected by swimming in a pool that has been properly cleaned and is maintained and disinfected. They also can't get it from drinking contaminated water.
  • Please note exposure to the amoeba may also occur when using neti pots to rinse your sinuses or conducting religious rituals with tap water. Use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.

For more information about Naegleria fowleri, visit the CDC’s webpage:


Hike more than 10 miles of multi-use trails, winding around the lake, through wetlands and prairie. Wildlife is often spotted on the trails, which is a combination of grass, rock and dirt surfaces. Horseback riding and snowmobiling are also popular activities for exploring the park’s trails.

Boat or Fish at Lake of Three Fires, or swim at the sandy beach area. Boats may be operated at “no-wake” speeds and two boat ramps provide convenient access to the water. Fishing jetties provide shoreline access, and anglers can fish for a variety of species including bluegill and bullhead. Horseshoe pitching areas are located at the beach near the lodge.

Hunt at the park’s public hunting area near the north and south borders. Nearly 400 acres of hunting area surround the park, although hunting is not allowed within park borders.

Stay overnight in one of six studio cabins or at the two modern campgrounds. Cabins offer heating and air conditioning, a microwave, refrigerator and cook-top stove; visitors must provide their own bedding, towels and cooking supplies. Both campgrounds contain restrooms, showers and a trailer dump station. An equestrian campground has non-electric and electric sites, restrooms, corrals, hitching posts and holding pens. One-fourth of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis or advance campsite reservations can be made through the online reservation system for Lake of Three Fires State Park.

Reserve one of two open shelters for an outdoor gathering during your visit. One of the shelters contains electricity and water, and a renovated day-use lodge near the beach can be reserved for large gatherings. Both shelters and the day-use lodge can be reserved through the online reservation system for Lake of Three Fires State Park.

Lake of Three Fires State Park
2303 Lake Road
Bedford, IA 50833
Ph. 712-523-2700
Fax: 712-523-3104

EQUESTRIAN TRAILS CLOSURE: Effective March 3rd, 2023 the Equestrian trails have been closed due to wet conditions associated with he spring thaw. Trails will remain closed until they have had a chance to dry out. This bulletin will be removed when the trails have been re-opened
Facilities: The modern restrooms/showers at Lake of Three Fires State Park are closed as of October 17th, 2022 for the winter. The RV dump station is open with no running water. Water hydrants and electric campsites will remain ON in the campground year round.
  • Hunting
  • Horseshoe pitching areas
  • Sand volleyball
  • Playground
  • Hiking trails
  • Swimming beach
  • Boat ramps (2)
  • Fishing jetty
  • Day-use lodge (1); ADA accessible
  • Shelters
  • Modern restroom
  • Showers
  • Family studio cabins
  • Electric campsites
  • Non-electric campsites 
  • Equestrian, electric campsites
  • Equestrian, non-electric campsites
  • Equestrian, buddy campsites
  • Buddy campsites
  • Youth group only campsites
  • Dump station