Honey Creek State Park is an 828-acre state park in Appanoose County, just 12 miles southeast of Moravia in Iowa. Located on a scenic peninsula with the massive Rathbun Lake on three sides, the park is surrounded by rolling hills and is part of the Rathbun Lake Recreation Complex.
The park is a popular spot for recreation and outdoor camping all year round with all sorts of activities to keep visitors busy, from swimming in the summer to cross-country skiing in the winter. Once you’ve set up camp, head off to explore the park’s many multi-use trails for hiking and biking. A boat ramp makes water recreation a major drawcard for the park in the warmer months – tubing, water-skiing, and jet-skiing are all fantastic ways to enjoy a warm day here.
Honey Creek’s picturesque park is also perfect for picnics, whether you plan to visit for the day or to spend the night in your RV. Take your pick of the park’s picnic areas – including two reservable shelters – and enjoy the use of the playground and swimming pool free of charge. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy bird watching and wildlife spotting along the park’s many nature trails.
There are plenty of camping options available at Honey Creek State Park, including two RV-friendly campgrounds with full-hookup, electric-only, and primitive sites that can accommodate rigs up to 90 feet in length. Peak season at Honey Creek State Park runs from May until September.
Honey Creek State Park is located on the northern side of Rathbun Lake, 12 miles south-east of Moravia in southern Iowa. The park is quite easy to find as you just need to drive down 160th Avenue after turning off from Highway J18. Once you reach the end of 160th Avenue, the road will change to Honey Creek Place.
There is one entrance and exit to the park and plenty of places within short proximity if you need to get any supplies for your trip. This includes Albia (around 21.5 miles away), Centerville (around 24 miles away), and Corydon (around 31 miles away). The closest city to the park is Des Moines, which is around 81 miles to the northwest.
All interior roads and RV pads are paved in the park so you should have no trouble getting around in your RV or car. Make sure you keep to the five mph speed limit through - small creatures like fox and rabbits often cross the roads in the park. Once you’ve set up camp, you can get around by bicycle or hiking along the many trails, or launch your boat at the boat ramp.
If you are just visiting for the day there are plenty of parking spaces available near the boat launches where you can park your rig.
The South Campground is the smaller of the two places to stay within the Honey Creek State Park so it is perfect for visitors wanting a little more privacy. The sites within the South Campground are more spread out with one long road containing the sites instead of a number of smaller loops like what is found in the North Campground.
While there are no full hookups in the South Campground, all of the RV-friendly sites are equipped with electric hookups. Similar amenities are available in both of the campgrounds, and there is also an ADA-accessible site. The sites at the southern end of the campground will be very close to the lake, so keep that in mind when choosing which site to reserve.
Overall the sites are smaller in the South Campground so only rigs that are 35 feet and shorter will be able to fit. Reservations can be made online prior to your arrival and are recommended.
The North Campground is the more popular out of the two campgrounds within Honey Creek State Park. This is because the North Campground contains all of the park's full-hookup sites, so if you want to be able to connect to power, water, and sewer, you will have to stay in this campground.
In total there are 28 full-hookup sites to choose from, along with 42 non-electric sites, and 20 that have electric hookups only. Pets are allowed, and each site comes equipped with a flat pad for you to park your rig, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Campground-wide amenities include water collection points, restrooms, showers, and a dump station.
If you have a large RV, this is the campground for you since rigs up to 90 feet in length will be able to use the North Campground. It's open all year round, however, during the winter months, the full-hookup sites are shut.
For visitors to Lake Honey State Park that are making a spur of the moment trip, you will be pleased to know that around one-quarter of the total sites in the campgrounds within the park are available on a first-come, first-served basis. These sites will often be taken during the summer months, so if you are planning to visit during this time make sure to arrive early in the day so you can secure a spot.
If you are interested in doing some group camping at Honey Creek State Park, you will have to be with a registered youth group as they are the only type of group allowed to use the site. Located in the South Campground, the Youth Camp is suitable for up to 20 people to call home at a time and is primitive with no hookups available. Some of the amenities at the site include picnic tables, fire rings, and grass camping pads. Pets are also allowed, and your youth group will be verified upon arrival.
Interested in doing some tent camping during your visit to Honey Creek State Park? There is one section of the South Campground that is suitable for tents, and they feature grassy pads suitable for up to six people at a time. Known as walk-to sites, one vehicle is also allowed and there is a water collection point in this small area.
If you would like to stay in other sites within both campgrounds, you will be allowed, since all sites are tent-friendly. Reservations for these walk-to sites can be made in advance.
Looking for a different accommodation experience during your visit to Honey Creek State Park? The park is home to four camping cabins that are suitable for up to six guests.
Made out of pine logs, the cabins have a unique rustic feel to them and are well equipped with modern comforts. Inside, you will find electricity, heating, cooling, a small refrigerator, basic furniture, a twin and full-sized bunk, and a futon. Outside there is a covered porch, fire ring, and picnic table that you are welcome to use. If you plan to stay in one of the cabins, you must bring your own linen.
Reservations for the cabins should be made prior to your arrival since there are only four available. They can be made online using the park reservation system and are available a year in advance.
Water enthusiasts will be in their element at Honey Creek State Park. There are two boat launch areas in the park where you can launch your own watercraft to enjoy power boating, sailing, water-skiing, tubing, jet-skiing, and fishing. Rathbun Lake is also a popular place for canoeing and kayaking if you'd prefer a more leisurely lakeside exploration, so you have plenty of choices during your visit to the area. Remember to bring your own watercraft as there are none available for rent from the park.
There are plenty of multi-use trails meandering through the park for hikers of all skill levels. You will find the Woodland Interpretive Trail where you can learn about the 11 ancient Indian mounds left behind from the first inhabitants of the park. Want to learn a bit more? You can also discover more facts about the history of Honey Creek in the shelter at the start of the interpretive trail so it is a must-see for history buffs.
Honey Creek State Park is a favorite spot for picnicking for both campers and day visitors alike. You have plenty of choice as to where to set up thanks to the various scenic picnic areas available throughout the park, such as at the edge of Rathbun Lake and Honey Creek Bay. There are also two picnic shelters available at two scenic points overlooking the lake that can be reserved online in advance. These shelters are recommended if you are visiting the park with a group.
The multi-use trails throughout the park are used for hiking and biking in the summer months, but during the off-season, these trails are groomed for a range of exciting snow sports. One of the most popular ways for visitors to explore the park during the wintertime is to go cross-country skiing. There are no skis available for rent from the park, so if you would like to hit the trails remember to bring your own equipment. If you don't have skis, you can also go snowshoeing on any of the trails within the park.
There is a 375-acre fish hatchery at Honey Creek State Park that was built in 1979. Anglers will enjoy casting out into the lake catching multiple species, including crappie, walleye, and channel catfish. You can fish in the lake via a boat that can be launched from two separate areas or you can cast out off the shoreline. There is also a fish cleaning facility and 24-hour fishing access at the North Boat Ramp.
The nature trails leading through Honey Creek State Park are beautiful in the winter season and are the perfect places to do some wildlife viewing. Take a stroll through the campground and along the lake’s shoreline and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like deers and quails. Grab your binoculars and watch out for a variety of interesting birds in the winter and fall seasons, such as waterfowl, doves, pheasants, and wild turkey.