Iowa Great Lakes - State Parks and Recreation Areas

The "Iowa Great Lakes" region of northwest Iowa offers a tremendous array of outdoor recreation opportunities, year-round. The unique lake area includes East and West Okoboji, Big Spirit Lake and others water bodies that draw vacationers, boaters and anglers. Iowa has several state parks around the Great Lakes region offering diverse amenities for visitors to enjoy.


Gull Point State Park

A focal point in the Great Lakes region is beautiful Gull Point State Park, established in 1933 and home to the largest CCC-era lodge in the park system. Gull Point provides a pleasing, shaded setting on West Okoboji Lake with numerous outdoor recreation amenities.


Plan Your Visit

Camp in the popular campground, which is well shaded and features paved roads, playground equipment, modern restroom and shower facilities, as well as a sanitary dump station. A variety of campsites are available, including electrical hookups. Advance campsite reservations can be made online through the park reservation system. Half of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Picnic in one of the open shelters within the park, which may be reserved online. Or plan your next special event in the Gull Point Lodge, built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). The lodge is a wonderful setting for group activities such as wedding receptions and family reunions, featuring a kitchenette and space for up to 140 people. Lodge reservations can be made online through the park reservation system.

Hike along the western portion of Gull Point State Park on a 1.3-mile self-guided interpretative trail. Visitors can identify diverse natural features along the trail. This area of the park is an excellent place to observe wildlife, such as songbirds and white-tailed deer. In the winter, the area is open for cross-country skiing.

Enjoy lake activities on beautiful West Lake Okoboji. Gull Point's beach is a popular spot for summer sunbathing and swimming. West Okoboji is one of Iowa’s prime fishing spots, with plentiful walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, white bass, perch, bluegills, crappies, catfish and bullheads. Boating is also very popular on the lake.

Gull Point State Park
1500 Harpen Street
Milford, IA 51351
Ph. 712-337-3211

Marble Beach State Recreation Area

On the shore of Spirit Lake, Marble Beach State Recreation features one of Iowa’s most popular campgrounds. Spirit Lake is the largest natural lake in Iowa and provides some of the best fishing in the state.


Plan Your Visit

Camp in the newly renovated campground, which is the largest in the Iowa Great Lakes region. With plenty of shade, campsites include full hook-ups with 50 amp electric and water service, 50 amp electrical sites and non-electric sites. Other amenities include paved roads, modern restroom and shower facilities, as well as a sanitary dump station. Advance campsite reservations can be made through the park reservation system. One fourth of the campsites are available for walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional camping is available in the North Campground, which is just north of the main park entrance on 240th Avenue.

Fish in one of Iowa’s premier fishing lakes, drawing anglers from all over the Midwest. Enjoy the challenge of pursuing a variety of game fish, including walleye, northern pike, muskellunges, smallmouth bass, white bass, perch, bluegills, crappies, catfish, and bullheads.

Boat on Spirit Lake, with boat ramp accessibility at Marble Beach. The lake is popular for all types of boat activities, including speed boats, jet skis, canoes and sailboats. A public swimming area, Crandall’s Beach, is located just north of the Marble Beach on Highway 276.

Hike and bike along the paved trails at Marble Beach, which connect to several miles of recreational trails in the region.

Marble Beach State Recreation Area
Physical location:
12320 240th Ave, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

Contact Information:
Gull Point State Park
1500 Harpen Street
Milford, IA 51351
ph. 712-337-3211

Elinor Bedell State Park

This small and beautiful state park sits on the shore of East Lake Okoboji, with trails, a playground and camping amenities. The 80-acre park was donated by Berkley and Elinor Bedell. A life-long resident of the Great Lakes area, Berkley Bedell represented northwest Iowa for 12 years in the U.S. Congress. The park offers a shelter with lake views and features a kitchenette, bathrooms and grills. The shelter can be reserved online. Elinor Bedell has a campground with full hook-up sites and modern restrooms. Advance camping reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. One-fourth of the campsites are available for self-registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

Elinor Bedell State Park
Physical location:
1619 260th Ave, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

Contact Information:
Gull Point State Park
1500 Harpen Street
Milford, IA 51351
ph. 712-337-3211

Emerson Bay State Recreation Area

Emerson Bay’s Lighthouse Point is a focal point on West Lake Okoboji, with spectacular views of the lake from the observation tower. The popular area features a playground, picnic areas, sand beach and a boat ramp. A shelter is conveniently located near the beach and can be reserved online. Emerson Bay also offers a campground with full-hook ups, 50-amp sites, a modern shower and restroom building, and a dump station. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. One fourth of the campsites are available for self-registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

Emerson Bay State Recreation Area
Physical location:
3100 Emerson St, West Okoboji, IA 51351

Contact Information:
Gull Point State Park
1500 Harpen Street
Milford, IA 51351
ph. 712-337-3211

Lower Gar State Recreation Area

Lower Gar is one of five lakes connected in the Iowa Great Lakes chain along with West Okoboji, East Okoboji, Minnewashta, and Upper Gar. Lower Gar State Recreation Area is located on the shores of Lower Gar, offering a boat ramp and several fishing areas along the shoreline. The small recreation area has several shaded picnic tables with excellent lake views, and is near many recreational trails in the region.

Lower Gar State Recreation Area
Physical location:
South entrance - 2322 202nd St., Arnolds Park, IA 51331
North entrance - 647 Dam Road, Arnolds Park, IA 51331

Contact Information:
Gull Point State Park
ph. 712-337-3211

Pikes Point State Park

Pikes Point State Park, situated on West Lake Okoboji, is home to one of the most popular swim beaches in the area. Pikes Point is a nice setting for a family picnic, with several picnic tables and beautiful lake views. A CCC-era stone shelter can be booked for your next special event through the park reservation system under Gull Point State Park.

Pikes Point State Park
Physical location:
15973 213th Ave, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

Contact Information:
Gull Point State Park
1500 Harpen Street
Milford, IA 51351
712-337-3211

Templar State Recreation Area

Located on the west side of Spirit Lake, Templar State Recreation Area offers lake access and shore fishing for anglers. The boat ramp is popular because boaters can launch in a protected lagoon even on windy days. The recreation area has an open picnic shelter available on a first-come, first-served basis. An additional shelter can be reserved online through the park reservation system.

Templar State Recreation Area
Physical Location: 13185 Templar Dr S., Spirit Lake, IA 51360

Contact information:
Gull Point State Park
1500 Harpen Street
Milford, IA 51351
ph. 712-337-3211

Trappers Bay State Recreation Area

On the shore of Silver Lake in the Great Lakes region, Trappers Bay is a small park featuring a CCC-area open shelter available for picnics on a first-come, first-served basis. Anglers can fish along the shoreline for walleye, northern pike, perch, crappies, catfish and several other game species.

Trappers Bay State Park
Physical Location:
309 Trapper's Bay Road Lake Park, IA 51347

Contact Information:
Gull Point State Park
1500 Harpen Street
Milford, IA 51351
ph. 712-337-3211