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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 through the online reservation system for Lake Darling State Park.

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 for Lake Darling State Park.

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

Phase 2 of the Highway 1 & 78 construction project is set to begin on March 20th, 2024.  Beginning on this date, park users will only be able to access Lake Darling from the west.  Highway 1 & 78 will be closed from the park entrance east to the City of Brighton. For more information see the IA DOT NEWS. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
(POSTED 3-8-24)


  • Hiking trails
  • Playground 
  • Swimming beach
  • Boat rental
  • Boat ramps (2)
  • Paddlesport rental
  • Fishing pier; ADA accessible
  • Fishing jetty
  • Fish cleaning station
  • Day-use lodge
  • Shelters
  • Modern restrooms
  • Showers
  • Camping cabins
  • Family modern cabins ; ADA accessible
  • Electric campsites
  • Full hook-up campsites
  • Non electric campsites
  • Dump station