Brushy Creek State Recreation Area
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Introduction

Located in central Iowa, Brushy Creek State Recreation Area offers an impressive mix of hiking, horseback riding, and water activities. You’ll find 45 miles of trails that lead you around the waters of the lake. The trails can also be used for horseback riding, and turn into the perfect winter snowmobiling and cross-country skiing course when it snows.

Brushy Creek is also a popular fishing spot, with waters packed with a wide range of species including walleye, crappie, channel catfish, and largemouth bass. The park hosts fishing tournaments just about every weekend. The four boat ramps and eight fishing piers give you plenty of different ways to cast a line. You’ll also find some of the best game in the area, making the park an active hunting area for quail, pheasant, and deer. There is also a shooting range in the park.

There are a number of different campgrounds in the park, depending on your needs. The standard RV campground has modern amenities and quick access to all of the park’s main areas. There is also an equestrian site with over 100 sites to choose from, as well as a riding arena.

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Transportation in Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

Driving

Located in central Iowa, Brushy Creek State Recreation Area is a quick drive from multiple cities in the region, such as Des Moines and Minneapolis. If you are coming from Des Moines, take I-35 north from the city and you can get to the park in around an hour and a half. From Minneapolis, take I-35 south and you will reach the park in a little over three hours.

The parks roads are paved, including the side roads that lead to the campground. The roads are also fairly wide, so you should be able to drive large RVs through the park. The roads in the park will get snow and ice during the winter, and may not always be fully cleared. Plan on bringing snow chains, as well as sand or salt, with your rig.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

Campsites in Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Equestrian Campground

There are also two equestrian campgrounds located in the park that feature a wide range of modern amenities. The sites are divided between a north and south campground. The north campground has full modern bathrooms and showers, as well as a horse wash station and riding arena. Many of the sites also have electrical and water hookups. The south campground has all of the amenities of the north campground, but does not have a riding arena.

All of the sites at the equestrian campgrounds can be booked in advance online. They are popular in the summer, so you should try to book as early as possible if you plan on visiting during peak season.

Brushy Creek State Recreation Area Campground

The campground within the park has over 200 sites for you to choose from for your rig. The sites vary in terms of hookups, with a few featuring full hookups, others only electric, and some no hookups at all. All of the sites have a picnic table and a fire pit, and are pet-friendly. However, you’ll need to keep your dog on a leash. All of the sites can be booked online. You have to book at least two days before you arrive at the park, and can book a maximum of three months in advance.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

In-Season

Birdwatching

The park is also a great choice for RVers who are interested in birdwatching. You’ll find many species that are native to the area, as well as dozens that migrate throughout the year. You can spot the American goldfinch, Iowa’s state bird, in addition to species such as the northern bobwhite, short eared owl, and northern shoveler.

Iowa has many great birdwatching groups, many of which produce excellent educational materials. Check their websites before visiting the park and you may be able to find field guides or checklists for the bird species found in the park.

Hiking

The park is a great destination for RV campers interested in hiking. There are 45 miles of trails that lead around the shore of the lake and through the shaded woods.

There is also a 12-mile gravel trail that leads around the lake. The trail makes for easy going, so it’s great for hikers of all ages and skill levels. You can also connect to the park’s other trails should you want a longer or more challenging hike. The park provides information and maps on all of the trails at the campground kiosk.

Horseback Riding

Brushy Creek State Recreation Area has a well developed network of equestrian trails, making it a great choice for RV campers who want to bring their horse along. There are 45 miles of trails in the park that can be used for horseback riding. There is also an equestrian campground that has over 100 campsites, with a hitch rail at each site. There is also a riding arena, as well as a horse washing station.

Off-Season

Hunting

Parts of Brushy Creek Recreation Area are also open to hunting. You’ll find a wide variety of game, ranging from deer and pheasant to wild turkey and rabbit. The woods surrounding the water and the open fields make every hunt varied and challenging, giving cover for animals and great sightlines for hunters.

The park strictly enforces all state hunting regulations, so make sure you are in accordance with seasons and game limits. You should check with park officials before hunting to make sure that you are in the proper areas, as some parts of the park are restricted. Use extra caution, as the park is a popular recreation spot for campers and day visitors.

Cross-Country Skiing

If you plan on visiting the park during the winter, make sure to pack a pair of skis in your rig. The park’s hiking trails can also be used by skiers after snow storms, making for an excellent cross-country skiing course.

The park does not rent ski gear, so make sure you come prepared. The trails are also shared with snowshoers, so take caution when rounding corners. The trails may not always be groomed, especially after heavy storms, so beginner skiers may find it to be tough going.

Fishing

If you've packed your fishing gear in your campervan or trailer, you are in luck. The lake is populated by a range of different fish species, such as walleye, crappie, muskellunge, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. You can also enjoy fishing on the Des Moines River. The river is packed with smallmouth and panfish, and you’ll get bites year round.

The fishing tends to be best starting in mid-spring and running through early fall, although you will get bites year round. The lake is no wake, and the park does not rent boats. The four boat launches are fairly large, so getting your boat out onto the lake is simple. There are also eight fishing piers if you want to fish from the shore.

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