Coralville Lake
Guide

Introduction

Coralville Lake is located in Iowa near Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. The lake was built as a result of the Flood Control Act. Construction of Coralville Dam on the Iowa River began in 1949 and was completed in 1958 after delays due to the Korean War. Though Coralville Lake was constructed primarily for flood control, today it is a popular recreational destination.

Over 500 campsites are scattered around several camping areas. Some campsites have full hookups while others are primitive tent sites. All campsites can be reserved online. The campgrounds are open from May through September each year. Each campground offers a number of amenities from boat launches to hiking trails to disc golf courses.

During your visit to Coralville Lake, be sure to partake in the many activities and attractions that are offered. Stop in to view the limestone and fossils that were unearthed by severe flooding at the Devonian Fossil Gorge. Feeling competitive? Play a round of disc golf or horseshoes with family or friends. For leisure, take your boat out onto the water or lounge at one of the three sandy swimming beaches. There is something for everyone to enjoy at Coralville Lake.

RV Rentals in Coralville Lake

Transportation

Driving

Coralville Lake is just a short drive from Iowa City, making it a popular destination for city dwellers as well as non-locals. Being close to a metropolitan area, visitors to Coralville Lake won’t need to go far to find services, shopping, and museums.

The drive should be an easy one to the lake and its recreation areas, even for those in large rigs. Most of the campsites can accommodate large RVs with some over 70 feet long. The sites are paved, so minimal, if any, leveling may be necessary.

Each campground and day-use area offers a number of amenities. Visitors may find the need to drive from one recreation area to another for some activities such as hiking or disc golf. Amenities within the campgrounds can be accessed by walking, driving, or biking. Several parking lots are located around Coralville Lake’s recreation and day-use areas.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Coralville Lake

Campsites in Coralville Lake

Reservations camping

Sugar Bottom

The campground at Sugar Bottom recreation area is open seasonally from May through September. There are over 200 campsites ranging from sites with full hookups to walk-in primitive sites. The sites with full hookups have 50-amp electricity. All campsites are reservable.

Activities at this campground include a swimming beach, boat ramp, playgrounds, and an 18-hole disc golf course. Amenities to make your stay comfortable include modern restrooms with hot showers and a dump station.

Sandy Beach

Sandy Beach has a campground with 60 campsites. Two of these campsites have full hookups, 48 have electric hookups only, and the remaining 8 are primitive tent sites. The campground is open from May to September.

While staying at Sandy Beach plan to play a round or two of horseshoes at the campground’s horseshoe pit or head down to the beach to take a swim. Additional amenities include a boat launch, playground, potable water, a dump station, and restrooms with showers.

Dam Complex

The Dam Complex recreation area has several sites within 5 campgrounds. Linder Point and Tailwater West Campgrounds have full hookup sites with 50-amp electric. Linder Point as well as Tailwater East and West Overlook also have campsites with electric hookups only. The remaining campgrounds offer primitive tent camping only.

Dam Complex has many activities for guests to enjoy during their visit including a swim beach, playgrounds, a disc golf course, and hiking trails. Additional campground amenities include restrooms with showers, potable water, and a dump station.

Seasonal activities in Coralville Lake

Off-Season

Devonian Fossil Gorge

Heavy rains in 1993 caused the lake level to crest above the dam’s spillway resulting in significant flooding. For 28 days, severe flooding washed away about fifteen feet of silt and sand. When the flooding subsided, limestone and fossils were discovered as old as 375 million years old. In 2008, another flood occurred, revealing even more. Be sure to stop by Devonian Fossil Gorge while visiting Coralville Lake. It’s a one of a kind sight to see!

Fishing

Coralville Lake is regularly stocked with a variety of fish, making it an ideal location for anglers. White crappie, northern pike, walleye, and various types of bass are common catches. Several boat ramps are located around the lake providing quick access to those who wish to take their boat out. Fishing is also permitted from the shoreline or from one of the fishing piers.

Disc Golf

Disc golf enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that Coralville Lake has two disc golf courses. The Turkey Creek disc golf course is located to the east of the dam. With nine holes, Turkey Creek is not a full disc golf course, but it’s perfect for those who are looking to practice or are short on time. The Sugar Bottom Disc Golf Course located in the Sugar Bottom recreation area is a full course with 18-holes.

In-Season

Mountain Biking

The 10-mile Sugar Bottom Mountain Bike Trail is appealing to go mountain biking during a visit. The system makes up a total of about 10 miles of trails with varying skill levels. Mountain bikers will weave their way through valleys and prairies and be rewarded with stunning views from overlooks over Coralville Lake.

Hiking

Coralville Lake has several hiking trails. Cedar Valley Nature Trail winds through the woods and along the lake. The many wildflowers blooming in the spring and summer are a colorful attraction to see while out exploring this trail. Veteran’s Trail is a barrier-free, ADA accessible path. The trail is ¼ mile loop with many points of interest along the way. Squire Point and Woodpecker Trail are interconnecting creating a trail system of about 5 miles. This is one of the more popular trails at Coralville Lake. Overlooks, wildflowers, and many different types of vegetation provide hikers with beautiful scenery as they hike this trail.

Swimming

There are three swimming beaches on Coralville Lake. Sugar Bottom, Sandy Beach, and West Overlook each have a roped off swimming area, keeping swimmers separated from boats that may be passing nearby. Coralville Lake participates in the life jacket loaner program. If you forgot or don’t have a life jacket for your child under 90 lbs, you may borrow one from the park. Don’t forget to return it when finished for other guests to use.

Boating

The over 5,000-acre Coralville Lake provides plenty of space for boating and other water sports. Several boat ramps are located around the lake at both the day-use areas and campgrounds. You shouldn’t have a long wait to launch your boat, jet skis, or other watercraft. Whether you plan to spend a leisurely day out enjoying the scenery or glide through the water on water skis or jet skis, you’re sure to have a great time out on the lake.