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Pilot Knob State Park

Dedicated in 1924, Pilot Knob in northern Iowa is one of the earliest in the state park system, featuring sweeping vistas and unique ecological areas. The park’s centerpiece is a CCC-era Observation Tower, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can stand atop the tower on “Pilot Knob” and enjoy the natural landscape and breathtaking views.


Hike a variety of trails at Pilot Knob, including five miles for equestrians. Snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are popular trail activities in the winter, and a warming house with heat and electricity is reservable for visitors in the winter.

Discover some of Iowa’s most unique ecological features while exploring Pilot Knob. A 4-acre floating sphagnum bog known as Deadman’s Lake is hidden within the park, and is home to many unique wildlife species. The bog is the only one of its kind in Iowa, and because of its high acidity, a few specially adapted species can survive in the lake.

Fish on Pilot Knob’s 15-acre lake, containing bass, catfish and bluegill. Ice fishing is a popular activity in the winter.

Camp at the park’s campground, containing electric hookups, modern showers and restrooms and a trailer dump station. One-fourth of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and advance campsite reservations can be made through the online reservation system for Pilot Knob State Park.

Reserve one of two open shelters for an outdoor gathering during your visit. An open-air amphitheater built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) seats 1,000 and is available for large events such as weddings. Contact the park office about scheduling an event in the amphitheater. Shelters can be reserved through the online reservation system for Pilot Knob State Park.

Pilot Knob State Park
2148 340th Street
Forest City, IA 50436
Ph. 641-581-4835


  • Lookout tower
  • Equestrian trails
  • Hiking trails
  • Amphitheater 
  • Shelters ; ADA accessible
  • Modern restrooms
  • Showers
  • Electric campsites
  • Full hook-up campsites
  • Non-electric campsites
  • Youth group only campsites
  • Dump station
  • Horseshoe pits