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Lake Ahquabi State Park, camping

State Park Hours

Parks open at 4 a.m. each day and close at 10:30 p.m. 

Lodge and open shelter users must vacate the area prior to 10:30 p.m.

All persons except registered campers, group campers, cabin renters, or yurt renters must leave the park by 10:30 p.m. 

Visitors in campgrounds, group camps or cabin, yurt and beach areas of parks, forests and recreation areas must also leave by 10:30 p.m.

Park Entrance Fees?
Iowa State Parks do not charge entrance fees except at Lake Manawa and Waubonsie state parks.

Things to know before you go:

A primary goal of the Department of Natural Resources is the provision of outdoor recreation opportunities for all visitors, including persons with disabilities. Facilities accessible to the mobility impaired may be found in many areas. Efforts are currently underway to provide additional access opportunities for persons with disabilities. Interested persons should visit the site and/or contact the park staff prior to scheduling outings to determine if facilities are adequate to meet an individual’s or group’s accessibility needs.

Persons with physical disabilities may use certain motorized vehicles to access specific areas in state parks and recreation areas, according to restrictions set out in IAC Chapter 61.7(8)b in order that they might enjoy such recreational opportunities as are available to others.

Facilities that were designed to be accessible to the mobility-impaired display wheelchair symbol signs.  Campsites and picnic tables displaying these signs are intended to be used only by visitors with mobility impairments.  Shelters displaying these signs are available to all. 

Drinking of these beverages is not permitted on roads or in parking lots.

  • Beer which contains more than 0.5% of alcohol by volume but not more than 6.25% of alcohol by volume.
  • High Alcoholic Content Beer which contains more than 6.25% of alcohol by volume, but not more than 15% of alcohol by volume. Not more than 1.5% of the volume of a “high alcoholic content beer” may consist of alcohol derived from added flavors and other nonbeverage ingredients containing alcohol. The added flavors and other nonbeverage ingredients may not include added caffeine or other added stimulants including but not limited to guarana, ginseng, and taurine.
  • Canned Cocktails which means a mixed drink or cocktail that is premixed and packaged in a metal can and contains more than 6.25% of alcohol by volume but not more than 15% of alcohol by volume.
  • Wine which contains more than 6.25% of alcohol by volume but not more than 21.25% of alcohol by volume.
  • Alcoholic liquors are not to be consumed in parks, recreation areas and forests. This includes hard liquors (whiskey, vodka, etc.).
  • Keg beer is allowed through a keg beer permit only. Renter must obtain a permit from park staff at least 30 days prior to the rental. A keg beer deposit in the amount of $100 per 100 or fewer persons will be required. Depending upon the size of your gathering, the damage deposit for the lodge rental may be waived in lieu of the keg beer deposit if the keg beer deposit is greater than $100. Keg beer is not permitted in campgrounds, on beaches or in parking areas.

Keg Procedures for Lodges/Shelters

The use of horses, mules and other equine animals is limited to roadways or to trails designated for such use. Horses and other animals are not to be hitched or tied to trees, shrubs or park facilities in a manner that will cause injury or damage to the plant or facility. Animals may be hitched to trailers for short periods of time for grooming and saddling. Animals must be stabled inside a trailer, at a hitch rail or in stalls or corrals, if provided. Portable stalls, pens or electric fences are not permitted.

Privately owned animals shall be kept on a leash with a maximum length of six feet, or be kept confined. Animals are not allowed to run at large. Pets shall not be left unattended in campgrounds.

Only dogs or assistive animals are allowed in designated cabins/yurts. All other cabins/yurts are pet-free. A limit of two dogs is allowed at each designated dog-friendly cabin/yurt.

Iowa state park and recreation area picnic and other day-use areas normally do not feature waste receptacles. Visitors must carry out their trash and are encouraged to bring bags for such purpose.

Waste receptacles are normally provided only at campgrounds, lodges, group camps, cabins and beach concessions.

Household, commercial or industrial refuse brought from private property cannot be dumped in government refuse containers.

The use of firearms, fireworks, explosives or weapons of any kind is prohibited in all state parks and preserves except as authorized by a permit issued by the department. A bow and arrow with attached bow fishing reel and minimum 90-pound test line may be used to take rough fish in accordance with applicable laws. State parks are wildlife refuges. Hunting and trapping are prohibited.

Fires are permitted only in designated areas, or where fireplaces or fire rings are provided. Fires must be extinguished when the campsite or picnic area is vacated.

Geocaching is allowed in state parks and recreation areas through a permit system.

Persons wishing to place a cache must contact park staff prior to establishing the cache to obtain the placement permit.

Creating or sustaining any unreasonable noise in any portion of all state parks and recreation areas as well as state forest campgrounds is prohibited at all times.

Noise which can be heard at a distance of 120 feet or three campsites shall be considered unreasonable between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m.

This includes the operation or use of motorized equipment or machinery such as an electric generating plant, motor vehicle, motorized toy, or audio device such as a radio, television set, tape deck, public address system, musical instrument or other device causing unreasonable noise.

Quarreling, fighting or use of language which unreasonably interferes with the lawful use and enjoyment of the area by another member of the public is prohibited.

Metal detector use is prohibited in state parks and recreation areas except in the following areas:

  • Designated beach areas. From May 22 to September 7 inclusive each year, metal detectors may be used on designated beach areas from 4:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. each day. From September 8 to May 21 inclusive each year, metal detectors may be used on designated beach areas from 4:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. each day.
  • Drained lakes. When an artificial lake has been drained or the water level lowered for any reason, metal detector use may be allowed from 4:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. only after the lakebed has been thoroughly surveyed for archaeological resources and a survey report has been completed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office. Please check with local park staff to ensure this has been done.

Tools used for digging are limited to the following:

  1. Probes not over 12 inches long, one inch wide and one-quarter-inch thick.
  2. A sand scoop or sieve not over 10 inches in diameter.

When digging is done to locate an item, the excavation shall be limited to three inches square when using probes and 10 inches in diameter when using sand scoops or sieves. The disturbed area is to be restored as nearly as possible to its original condition. A litter apron or bag is to be worn or carried during metal detector use and litter dug up is to be disposed of in approved trash containers.

All items found are subject to the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 556F.

Owners of lost items may use a metal detector in areas where their use is normally prohibited only upon special arrangement with the park ranger or with the park manager in charge of the area. A written approval must be granted before metal detector use may begin.

The following are designated as recreation areas. Hunting, in accordance with applicable laws, is allowed on these areas and they are usually open for public access 24 hours a day. Beach and camping regulations, as well as campground visiting hour,s still apply in these areas.

  • Badger Creek, Madison County
  • Brushy Creek, Webster County
  • Claire Wilson Park, Emerson Bay and Lighthouse, Lower Gar Access, Marble Beach, Templar Park, Dickinson County
  • Fairport, Muscatine County (no hunting)
  • Mines of Spain, Dubuque County (limited hunting, contact park staff)
  • Pleasant Creek, Linn County
  • Volga River, Fayette County
  • Wilson Island, Pottawattamie County


All Iowa state parks and recreation areas are open for removal of certain types of plant life unless signs posted within the area state otherwise. Mushrooms, asparagus, nuts, fruits and berries are the only types of plant material that can be removed and harvested in state parks and recreation areas. Other types of plant life cannot be removed. Ginseng cannot be harvested in Iowa state parks or state preserves.

Removal or defacement of other types of natural features such as bird nests and rock formations is prohibited, as is removal or defacement of cultural features such as Native American artifacts and mounds.

The use of chainsaws is prohibited in all areas.

All driving is to be confined to designated roadways and is restricted to properly registered motor vehicles. The use of motor scooters, electric bikes and similar devices is prohibited. Electric personal assistive mobility devices may be operated in accordance with the requirements of Section 321.235A of the Iowa Code.

Parking is allowed only in parking lots. Vehicles may not be left unattended on any park drive, roadway or highway except in the case of an emergency.

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Use on State Park Roadways

Free climbing, and climbing or rappelling activity which uses bolts, pitons, or similar permanent anchoring equipment or ropes, harnesses, or slings is prohibited in state parks and recreation areas, except by persons or groups registered with the person in charge of the area. Individuals participating with groups must each sign a registration form before climbing or rappelling.

Backbone State Park, Delaware County and Palisades Kepler State Park, Linn County allow climbing or rappelling.  

Climbing or rappelling is not permitted at the Ledges State Park, Boone County; Dolliver State Park, Webster County; Wildcat Den State Park, Muscatine County; Mines of Spain Recreation Area, Dubuque County; Maquoketa Caves State Park, Jackson County; Elk Rock State Park, Marion County and Stone State Park, Woodbury and Plymouth counties.

Smoking is prohibited in public buildings. This includes toilet and shower buildings and other facilities in state parks and recreation areas.

All swimming shall take place between sunrise and sunset. Beach use and swimming is prohibited between sunset and sunrise. Swimming must be done in the designated beach area within the boundaries marked by ropes, buoys or signs. Swimmers may swim outside of the designated beach area under the following conditions:

  • Swimming must take place between sunrise and sunset.
  • Swimmers must be accompanied by a person operating a vessel and must stay within 20 feet of the vessel at all times during the swim.
  • The vessel accompanying the swimmer must display a flag, which is at least 12 inches square, is bright orange and is visible all around the horizon.
  • The person swimming must register with the park staff in charge of the area and sign a registration immediately prior to the swim.

Unless otherwise posted as prohibited or limited to the designated beach area, persons may swim within 10 feet of a vessel anchored not less than 100 yards from the shoreline or the marked boundary of a designated beach area. All vessels, except those being uprighted or repaired, must be attended at all times by at least one person remaining on board. Scuba diving may occur outside of the designated beach area, provided the divers flag is displayed as specified in rule 571-41.10 (462A).

Inner tubes, air mattresses and other beach toy-type items may be used only in the beach areas.

Possession or use of glass or other breakable containers, fragments of which could cause injuries, is prohibited within the designated beach areas.

At Brushy Creek State Recreation Area, located in Webster County and Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area, located in Linn County, swimming is prohibited from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.

Animals are prohibited within the designated beach area.

Effective May 13, 2009, persons may swim outside the designated swimming beach under certain conditions. A swimmer must register with park staff in charge of the area and sign a registration prior to the swim. Each swimmer must complete his/her own registration form.

Swimming Outside of Designated Swimming Beach, Registration Form
Swimming Outside of Designated Swimming Beach, Registration Form

Horseback riding and bicycle riding are restricted to state park and recreation area roadways and designated and signed trails. Maps of the state park and recreation area trails can be obtained from the park office.

Persons using the hiking trails are encouraged to stay on designated trails to minimize impacts upon park natural resources.

The use of paintball guns in all state parks, recreation areas and state preserves is prohibited.

Reservation Policies

For information regarding reservations please see our Make a Reservation page.