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Waterfront walkway in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Waterfront walkway in Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo: Dsmspence, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Clear Lake State Park’s open spaces and shady oaks hug the shoreline around scenic Clear Lake in Northern Iowa. A 3,000 acre lake with sandy beach, trails, campground, historic lodge, and scenic picnic areas greet guests and offer opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, biking, hiking, bird watching, and picnicking.

This picturesque Iowa state park is located just 114 miles north of Des Moines near the small town of Clear Lake. Clear Lake offers visitors a small town cozy atmosphere with brick sidewalks, antiques, boutique shops, casual dining, and so much more.


Spend a few days inside this restful area. Not only does Clear Lake State Park feature lakeside activities but also a picnic area with shelters, tables, grills, and a playground and a day use lodge that is ideal for family gatherings, weddings and other special events. This rustic lodge, complete with a historic fireplace, was originally built during the late 1930s. It was renovated in 1998 and today features a stove, refrigerator, microwave, and restrooms.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Clear Lake State Park:

Boating at Clear Lake State Park

The expansive lake inside Clear Lake State Park is ideal for kayaks, canoes, sailboats, jet skis, and more. Guests may bring their own boats or rent inside the park. A boat ramp provides guests with easy access to the 3,000 acre Clear Lake.

Swimming at Clear Lake State Park

Clear Lake State Park’s beach area is a popular spot to visit during the summer. Day visitors and overnight guests will be delighted with the sandy 900-foot beach where they can relax between enjoying a refreshing dip in beautiful Clear Lake. An accessible paved path leads out to the beach area and near the picnic areas. And the campground area is a short walk away.

Hiking at Clear Lake State Park

Clear Lake State Park features a couple of short trails for guests to stretch their legs and take in some of the local flora and fauna within the park and on nearby Woodford Island.

One trail, The Prairie Trail, offers guests an easy 0.7 mile path through the park’s surrounding fields. This trail is dedicated to hikers during the summer and cross-country skiers during the winter. Hikers may also use the 0.2 mile Bike Trail to see more of the area.

More hiking trails are available inside nearby McIntosh Woods State Park.

Biking at Clear Lake State Park

Clear Lake State Park may only offer one 0.2 mile trail for guests with mountain bikes but nearby Clear Lake is considered a bicycling town.

As a frequent RAGBRAI stop the town has established trails that wind around the lake, through neighboring prairie lands, as well as throughout the town itself. One popular biking trail, The Trolley Trail, provides a 7.5 mile ride as it stretches from Clear Lake into nearby Mason City. Bike rentals are available at Lake Life Rentals and Movement Solutions. Maps are available inside the visitor center.

Fishing at Clear Lake State Park

Whether you’re a competitive angler or just someone who enjoys lazily dropping a line in, you’ll be pleased with all that Clear Lake has to offer. Guests enjoy catching yellow bass, walleye, northern pike, and muskie here year round.

So grab your fishing gear, pick up an Iowa Fishing License, and head over to Clear Lake State Park where you can fish from boat, shore, or along an accessible fishing pier.

Birding at Clear Lake State Park

Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and print out a bird list. While stretching your legs and wandering along the lake you may see a Northern Cardinal, Hummingbird, Black-capped Chickadee, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, White-breasted or Red-breasted Nuthatch, Great Gray Owl, Dark-eyed Junco, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, or even a Downy, Hairy, or Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Nature and Wildlife at Clear Lake State Park

Birds, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, opossum, and deer may be seen throughout the surrounding oaks and open spaces inside Clear Lake State Park. Guests who quietly approach the trails in the morning or late afternoon will be rewarded with abundant signs of wildlife.

Pets at Clear Lake State Park

Pets are allowed inside Clear Lake State Park as long as they are well behaved, supervised and kept on a leash that is no longer than 6 feet.

Camping at Clear Lake State Park

Clear Lake State Park is proud to be the home of one of the most popular campgrounds in the state. This campground features full hookup campsites, electric hookup sites, and non-electric campsites near restrooms and hot showers.

Many of these campsites are on a first come first serve basis; others may be reserved in advance.

Park Location

Clear Lake State Park
6490 S Shore Dr
Clear Lake, IA 50428
Phone: 641.357.4212

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Clear Lake State Park: