I’ve learned that there are two types of Midwestern people: Those who love Lake Icaria and those who haven’t been there yet. Lake Icaria is an expansive county park in southwestern Iowa with a lot of things to do around (and on) the beautiful lake. Being near Corning, it’s a big draw to Adams County, and it keeps improving with new cottages and updates to the current ones.
Disclosure: A version of this post first published on Oh My! Omaha and is published here with permission.
Things to do at Lake Icaria
Lake Icaria is located in southwest Iowa near the town Corning. The big draw is the 650-acre lake, obviously, and the activities you associate with lakes like fishing, water skiing and tubing.
I’m told the lake is bustling in the summer with boats, but not jet skis. There’s even a party cove where boaters will drop anchor to hang out for the afternoon. You’ll find giant mats floating on the water in the summer.
Related post: For a vacation spot with even more lake activity in the summer, check out the lakes around Okoboji.
Lake Icaria has a small sandy beach and a roped-in swimming area. My kids love playing in the water, so I can see my kids wanting to spend hours there on a summer day. The day we were at the lake, it was about 60 degrees, so we did not get in the water.
One of my favorite things to do at a park is hike, and Lake Icaria has more than 6 miles of trails. You might be tempted to just stroll the lakeshore, but there are paths through prairie, through trees and over bridges.
And for those who can throw a frisbee, Lake Icaria has an 18-hole cage disc golf course. I can’t aim a frisbee, so I didn’t even consider trying this activity.
Lake Icaria fishing
If you fish, this lake is a walleye fisherman’s dream. The lake is also stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, wipers or channel fish. Kids can take part in popular fishing contests on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
Of all the things we could do at the lake, my kids were most excited about fishing. We fished from the rocky shore, and following the first cast, my son caught a large-mouth bass. It was possibly the smallest baby large-mouth bass ever, but he was still pretty excited.
You can fish from a boat at the lake, so you can bring your own or rent. The marina offers pontoon rentals for $45-$55.
Food trucks & rentals at Lake Icaria
There was an unexpected (and pleasant) surprise I learned thanks to the helpful camp host. She let us know that every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you’ll find a food truck near the beach (seasonally). So, if you’re like me, and you struggle getting a campfire started, dinner won’t be a bust.
There was barbecue truck when we were there. My kids preferred roasting hot dogs over a rack of ribs for dinner, but we did get a small breakfast to share at the food truck on Sunday morning. We had a slice of quiche with brisket in it and pancakes.
Depending on your campsite, the beach may or may not be within walking distance. The beach is pretty near the marina which is Lake Icaria’s go-to spot for all the thing you forgot. You can get your fishing license there. The marina is also where you’ll go to rent items, like pontoon boats, kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards.
Camping at Lake Icaria
There are a few options for overnight stays at Lake Icaria: Cabins, family cottages and camping/RVs. First, I’ll tell you about the camping options.
There are two camps sites: Timber Ridge Campground and Lake View Campground. Timber Ridge is shaded by mature trees and is newly renovated with full-service or electric/water sites. It’s drawback is that there isn’t a view of the lake. Lake View features has that view for most campsites (and some waters edge tent sites), plus it has full-service, electric, and all new restrooms and showers.
There were a lot of RVs the weekend we visited, and I imagine when the weather’s warm, you’ll see more of a balance of tent campers.
Cabins at Lake Icaria
I once thought we were a camping family, but over time, I’ve learned that we are 100% cabin lovers. So, we stayed the night in one of the lakeside sleeper cabins.
If you’re looking at the staying in a cabin, you have two choices: Full-service cabins with water (i.e., sink and toilet) and sleeper cabins that don’t have water. Other than that bathroom perk, they all have the same accommodations.
Both cabin types sleep up to 6 with two bunk beds and a pull-out couch; they also have a fridge and microwave; and they have heat and air conditioning. If you stay in a cabin, you will need to bring your own linens, utensils, and pots and pans. These cabins are seasonal, and not open during the winter.
Our cabin was a beautiful lakeside sleeper cabin that felt private and well-situated. The cabin had an amazing view, but the parking lot was further from the cabin, so we had to walk about 50+ yards. Not a huge problem, but if you’ve got a lot of stuff, it can be a trek.
The Family Cottages are two relatively new, large, home-like cottages that have their own little cove on the lake. They’re beautiful, sleep a lot of people, and frankly, offer a lot of amenities that I think families are going to love.
During our tour of one of the cottages, my 7-year-old daughter described it as “first class.” When we return to Lake Icaria, I’m definitely going to book one of these.
Each Family Cottage is full-service, with linens included and a kitchen that’s ready for you. Unlike the other two cabin types, the cottages have TVs, a dining area, and several sleeping rooms for a little more privacy.
The Family Cottages have their own boat dock, as well. The deck, I think, is one of the highlights of those cottages!
While the other two cabin types are open for short-term stays, like a weekend, the Family Cottages are open for week-long bookings from Friday to Friday. A weekend booking might open up, but you’ll only know the week of an available weekend. Family Cottages are open year-round.
After staying in the sleeper cabin and then touring the full-service cabin and Family Cottage, I can say that the cottages are definitely my kind of “camping.” That’s to say, it’s basically staying in a well-furnished home with the perk of having a gorgeous lake outside your door.
To book a cabin or campsite, visit mycountyparks.com.