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Lake Darling State Park

2020 Antlerless Deer Hunt

Facilities and Activities

Lake Darling State Park is a great place for a family cookout. A number of scenic picnic areas overlook the lake. Two open picnic shelters are available for use and may be reserved online through the park reservation system.

 Lake Darling Lodge

This park is also home to the Lake Darling Lodge. Completed in 2008, the lodge is quickly becoming a popular place for reunions, parties and weddings. Reservation for the lodge can be made online through the park reservation system.

Camping cabins may be reserved for a 2-night minimum stay. The cabins sleep four and are equipped with a bunk bed, futon, and table with chairs. They also contain a microwave, minifridge, and an outdoor fire pit. They are located only a short distance from the modern rest room and shower building in the campground. The cabins can be reserved online through the park reservation system.

Six newly constructed, year-round cabins are now available for reservation. These two bedroom cabins have a queen sized bed, a table and chairs, and a futon. Each kitchen contains basic appliances, including a refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster, and a stove. All of the cabins have a restroom with a shower.  They also have a large deck with four Adirondack style chairs.  Cabin users should bring their own bedding, towels, and any other camping supplies. Reservations can be made for these cabins on the Iowa State Parks reservation website.

Lake Darling has a large and well equipped campground. It includes electrical hookups and full hookups. The campground has 2 modern rest room buildings, as well as a conveniently located trailer dumping station. Advance campsite reservations can be made online through the park reservation system. One fourth of the campsites are still available for self-registration on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is playground equipment in the campground.

Lake Activities (swimming, boating, fishing)
The beach at Lake Darling is a fun spot for swimmers and sunbathers, young and old. There is a new playground in the beach area.

Lake Darling is a popular boating lake for both power and non-power boats. There are boat rental opportunities through park staff. Any size motor may be operated on Lake Darling at "no wake" speeds.

Friends of Lake Darling Boat Rental is open Memorial Day weekend thru Labor Day weekend; Fridays thru Sundays, and holidays, 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. They provide paddle boats, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, single kayaks, double kayaks. Can accommodate businesses or groups for special events.

Lake Darling is an angler's delight. Catfish and crappies are probably the most prevalent catch for most anglers. However, bullheads, bluegills, largemouth bass, and carp are also plentiful.

Beach Monitoring Results

Hikers will find plenty of opportunity at Lake Darling State Park. Several trails are present and hikers will see a variety of plant, animal and bird species. One of the trails extends through a re-established prairie and another winds through heavily wooded timber to a cemetery dating back to the 1800s.
There is also a 1.5 mile paved fishing trail that is ADA accessible and runs along the south shoreline of the lake.

Lake Darling State Park was dedicated on September 17, 1950. J. N. "Ding" Darling, for whom the park was named, "set the gate," a ceremony in which an honored guest closes the valve on the spillway, completing the impoundment process. Ding Darling was the editorial cartoonist of the Des Moines Register and was a champion of conservation during the early part of this century. Through his efforts, the conservation movement was fostered in Iowa. In recognition of his contributions, Lake Darling State Park was named in his honor.

Lake Darling State Park is 1,417 acres in size, including a beautiful 302-acre lake with almost 18 miles of shoreline. The park, with its beautiful wooded hills and valleys and lovely lake, offers something for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, young and old.

Nearby Towns
Brighton is 3 miles east of the park, Richland is 5 miles west, Washington is 14 miles northeast on Highway 1, and Fairfield is 17 miles southwest on Highway 34. These communities offer a variety of shopping, dining and church opportunities.

Nearby Lakes

Darling Campground Pond
Lake Darling
Schmitter Pond (south)
Schmitter Pond (north)
Skunk River (Rose Hill to Coppock)


Within park
Beach, Bird Watching, Boat Launch Ramp, Boating, Cabins, Camping - Electric, Camping - Full Hook-up, Camping - Nonelectric, Camping - Youth Group, Camping Cabins, Canoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Day-use Lodge, Dump Station, Hiking, Horseshoe Pits, Interpretive Display, Jogging/Running, Kayaking, Modern Campground, Mountain Biking, Paddle Boating, Park Lake, Picnic Area, Picnic Shelter, Playground, Restrooms, Showers, Snowmobiling, Swimming - Beach, Trails, Bicycle, Trails, Cross Country Skiing, Trails, Hiking, Trails, Mountain Bike, Trails, Snowmobile, Water Hydrants , Wildflower Viewing, Wildlife Viewing

Less than a mile
More than a mile
ATM/Cash Machine, Church, Fuel, Vehicles, Grocery Store