Green Valley State Park is a picturesque lakeside campground that is located less than ten miles from the town of Cranston, IA in the southwest portion of the state. This family-friendly park is a welcome destination for all types of camping enthusiasts with a little something for everyone who enjoys the outdoors. It is situated near the 379-acre Green Valley Lake, which boasts fun fishing opportunities for all ages and skill levels that caters to both bank and boat anglers.
The wildlife in and around the park is abundant and includes a variety of frogs, turtles, and butterflies, as well as an active population of deer. Birds, including Canada Geese, Great Egrets, and an assortment of birds of prey, are also plentiful in this area. The park does allow pets, but they must be either kept on a leash of six feet or less or confined in order to protect both the wildlife in the area and the pets themselves.
The swimming beach offers both adults and kids the chance to cool down in the summer heat, and modern restrooms and showers are located on the west side of the campgrounds. There are two playgrounds located within the park to allow the kids to blow off a little steam and several walking and biking paths wind through the camp, including one that connects the park to Cranston. If you are traveling with a group of RVs, Green Valley State Park offers a few buddy sites as well, where groups of two to four camping vehicles can park around a central area.
Green Valley State Park is just off of I25, approximately forty miles south of Highway 80. The nearest town is Creston, IA, a small town with a few stores and restaurants that connects to the Green Valley State Park by way of the Park to Park biking and hiking trail. The road from Highway 130 to the park is a two-lane paved road that has a few easy twists and turns that should be simple to navigate with an RV camper, and there are a few turnoffs along the road that are large enough for most campers to take a short break and stretch their legs.
There are no restrictions for cars or RVs traveling in the park, and roads in the park are all paved. There are not a lot of parking spaces, other than the campsites themselves, but there are a few parking lots near the boat ramps that have spots large enough for a larger RV or a truck towing a boat. This is a fishing-friendly site and is relatively easy to navigate while towing a boat as well, although it should be noted that boats with inboard motors, such as jet skis or jet boats, are not allowed on Green Valley Lake. Drive safely, and keep an eye out for bicyclists, kids, and other forms of wildlife.
The Green Valley Campground in Iowa is there to meet your needs no matter whether you prefer to plan your vacations out or are more impulsive when you travel. If you prefer to plan ahead, you can guarantee a spot for your RV from two days to three months in advance, including spots with just electricity and spots that have full hookups. This park also offers buddy sites for groups with multiple RVs, two of them that cater to groups up to four caravans and six which cater to pairs. Three of the buddy sites are available without a reservation while the remainder require reservations.
In the summer months, campers are required to stay a minimum of two nights on most weekends with a three-night minimum stay required for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor day weekends. During the off-season, there are no minimum stay requirements. Campers can stay up to 14 nights in a row in the camp, after which at least three nights must pass before camping at Green Valley Campground again.
If you are more the impulsive type, approximately a quarter of the sites, both electric only and full hookup spots, are available on a first-come, first-served basis as well, but in the busiest months you may run the risk of the sites being full, particularly on weekends.
Green Valley State Park is a great destination for campers who also love to fish. The lake was voted as one of Iowa’s best family-friendly places to fish by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation in 2017, and it does not disappoint. There are several courtesy docks to fish from as well as four boat ramps to make launching your boat easier and safer. Once you have caught your fill of bluegills, crappie, bass, sunfish, or walleyes, you can clean your fish at the fish cleaning station, helping to keep your campsite and camper neat and tidy.
The Park to Park trail is one of the most popular trails in Green Valley State Park. The path is approximately 15 miles long and winds around the lake. It also connects Green Valley State Park to McKinley Park in the nearby town of Creston. While much of the trail is a grass surface, requiring a multi-purpose or mountain bike for riding, there are also large portions that are paved and can accommodate any type of bicycle.
Don't forget to pack your swimming gear in your campervan, camper, or trailer. Green Valley Lake has a designated swimming beach where young and old alike can cool off during the heat of summer. The boundary of the swim area is marked by ropes, signs, or buoys for the safety of those swimming. Swimmers who are accompanied by a vessel can sign a registration form that allows them to venture outside of these boundaries between sunrise and sunset. Watch for posted signs, especially during the late summer and early fall, and avoid swimming in water containing algae. While leashed pets are welcome in most areas of the park, they are not allowed on the swimming beach.
Geocaching is a relatively new activity, made possible by the advent of both the internet and accurate GPS tracking technology. Players utilize GPS and their observational skills to search for caches that are hidden by other players, and when the cache is located, the player notes their find in a log sheet or logbook in the cache. Some caches contain small trinkets or toys, that should be replaced with an item of similar value if taken, and others contain trackable tokens which can be taken and moved on to the next cache. It is a popular activity for many RVers, and popular parks like Green Valley State Park often have many varied caches that can be found, particularly along hiking and biking trails.
There are several types of wildlife that reside in the forests and fields surrounding the lake, as well as several varieties of birds and amphibians who make the shore their home. Many white-tailed deer, the largest native animal still located in Iowa, make their homes in the area. Rabbits and squirrels are also common in the area, and Bobcats can occasionally be spotted as well. There are numerous avian species in the area as well including Bald Eagles, Canada Geese, Great Egrets, and several species of duck. Iowa has been actively trying to reintroduce several bird species to their state since the 1990s, and if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of some of these birds, including Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, and even Trumpeter Swans.
The wide variety of wildlife that is present in the area is not the only wonderful thing that can be captured on film in Green Valley State Park. The park is comprised of over 1,000 square feet of property, and the varied landscapes in the area can provide a great deal of diversity for your photographs. Different regions of the park include trees and forested areas, the lake itself, and the nearby area of Mitchell Marsh, which the park to park trail travels through.