Lake Manawa State Park is a 1,529-acre outdoor recreation park in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Surrounding a 753-acre natural lake, the park is called Manawa which means “peace and comfort” and campers can look forward to many hours of outdoor fun here.
Established in 1881 when a flood formed the lake naturally, the oxbow lake has since become a source of water-based activity. Campers can enjoy swimming, boating, tubing, and kayaking on the lake, or simply choose to relax on the lake’s sandy beach. Various boats and water sport equipment are available for rent.
A total of 72 campsites are available, some of which offer electrical hookups. Most of the campsites are very basic and you can set up your RV camp pretty easily here. Challenge the kids to a game of volleyball, pack a picnic to enjoy on the beach, or go hiking and biking along the nature trails. There’s plenty to keep you entertained at Lake Manawa State Park.
RV Rentals in Lake Manawa State Park
Transportation in Lake Manawa State Park
The East Entrance to Lake Manawa State Park is located on East Manawa Drive, off Highway 92. The West Entrance can be found on South Shore Drive. Once within the park there are no driving restrictions so you shouldn’t have any difficulty getting around.
Parking is available at multiple spots within the park where you can set up your RV camp. Once you’ve done so, you can get around the park on foot, by bike or by boat – there are three boat launch areas on the lake.
Campgrounds and parking in Lake Manawa State Park
Campsites in Lake Manawa State Park
Lake Manawa State Park has space for 72 camping units, 37 of which have electrical hookups. While the sites themselves are very basic, there are modern showers, restrooms, and a trailer dump station on-site.
Facilities include a beach, children’s playground, sand volleyball court, and a concession selling food and snacks. There are boat rentals (tubes, kayaks, canoes and paddleboards) as well as picnic shelters available. There is also storage for 110 sailboats and other non-motorized boats. Three boat launch areas are also available on the lake.
The campsites can be reserved online in advance, however half of them are available only on a first come, first served basis. The campground is pet-friendly.
Seasonal activities in Lake Manawa State Park
The natural lake at Lake Manawa State Park is also a popular swimming spot in the warmer summer months. Swimmers and sunbathers head to the beach to relax and enjoy picnics. Refreshments are available at the concession stand and there are picnic areas in the park for day visitors and campers alike.
Bring your own personal watercraft along to Lake Manawa State Park and enjoy plenty of fun in the summer months. Boats with motors of any size are permitted on the lake. There are modern boat ramps available on the northern, southern and western edges of the lake. Paddleboats, tubes and canoes are also available to rent if you don’t have your own.
Hiking and Biking
Lake Manawa State Park is a popular outdoor recreation spot with seven miles of paved trails perfect for hiking and biking. These trails connect with the trail system that runs throughout Council Bluffs, including the Wabash Trace Trail and the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge. For those who wish to enjoy a bit more adventure, there are also eight miles of unpaved trails perfect for mountain biking on either side of the Missouri River access on the southern side of the park.
Anglers are in their element at Lake Manawa State Park all year round. Try your luck catching crappies, walleye, bass, bluegills and catfish to enjoy on the campfire in the evening. Bait is available at the concession stand. A fish cleaning station and fishing docks are available at the lake and there are boat launch areas for those who wish to launch a fishing boat.
The seven miles of hiking trails are open to winter hikers and snowshoers in the off season. Lake Manawa State Park is home to all sorts of wildlife that can be spotted best in the quiet season when there aren’t any crowds to disturb them. Bring your binoculars and your camera!
There are plenty of scenic spots to enjoy a family picnic at Lake Manawa State Park. There are six open picnic shelters, one of which includes a kitchenette and fire pit, scattered along the edge of the lake and one near the beach. These can all be reserved for a fee online in advance.