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Iowa's natural resources plates include the state bird and flower, pheasant, eagle, buck and a Brook trout. Support conservation in Iowa by buying a natural resource plate for your vehicle.
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Experience Iowa's natural beauty and all the fun our state parks offer. Make your online reservation for state park cabins, camping sites, shelters and lodges.
Support conservation in Iowa by buying a natural resource plate for your vehicle.
Natural Resource Plates
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Contact Information by County
111 Lake Darling Road
Brighton, IA 52540
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.
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.
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.