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Offering a sandy beach, excellent fishing, and historic appeal, Beeds Lake State Park is one of the most popular outdoor recreation destinations in the Hawkeye State. At the heart of the park is a picturesque limestone dam and spillway built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The dam was originally constructed in the 1850s to collect water for a local mill, though today it provides a scenic setting for swimming, boating, and fishing. History buffs love checking out the beautifully preserved CCC buildings, which won Beeds Lake a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Planning a road trip in the Midwest? Book an RV in Franklin County and you can combine the creature comforts of home with the novelty of sleeping under the stars. As well as Beeds Lake State Park, you can also visit iconic Iowa parks such as Maquoketa Caves, Pikes Peak, and Backbone. Extend your trip and you can tick off iconic Midwest recreation areas like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, and Apostle Islands in Wisconsin.
On the south side of the lake, a sandy beach makes it easy to soak up the sunshine in Beeds Lake State Park. The lake is fed by Spring Creek, which means the water is cool and clear – perfect for a refreshing dip on a hot summer day. The lake is popular with anglers year-round, who flock to reel in bass, catfish, and panfish. Cast a line from one of the fishing jetties or launch a boat and unlock access to deeper water. Canoes and kayaks are ideal for enjoying a leisurely paddle. You can also launch motorboats at no-wake speeds.
A two-mile trail skirts the shoreline of Beed's Lake and leads to the spillway where you'll have the option of hiking to the base of the dam. At the bottom, you can watch water thunder down the limestone face of the dam. As well as hikers, bicyclists, and joggers, the trail is popular with cross-country skiers in the winter.
Grassy picnic areas dot the shoreline and are perfect for family picnics. Be sure to fill your basket with Iowa specialties like pork tenderloin and sweet corn. There's also a lakeside stone and timber CCC shelter that's ideal for family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, and other group gatherings.
The Beeds Lake State Park Campground features spacious sites and a picturesque setting by the reservoir. Roughly 100 electric sites are available, and most are open for advanced reservations. If you're not camping in an RV, opt for one of the park's 43 primitive tent sites. Like most state park RV campgrounds, Beeds Lake features modern restrooms with toilets and showers. A dump station is also available for RV rentals.
It's best to make reservations in advance if you're visiting during the busy summer months or the Franklin County Fair in July. Some of the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis for last-minute RV camping trips. The park welcomes dogs, so why not rent a pet-friendly RV and bring Sparky along on your Beeds Lake State Park camping trip? The largest sites can accommodate campervan rentals of up to 65 feet long, making Lacey-Keosauqua State Park a good choice for small to medium-sized rigs.
RV camping at Beeds Lake State Park puts you in the heart of North Central Iowa, a charismatic pocket of the Hawkeye State where you'll find historic riverside towns, rumbling rivers, and postcard-perfect scenery. Hampton is a three-mile drive from Beeds Lake and is a good place to stock up on snacks and other motorhome camping essentials. Other options include nearby towns like Latimer and Hansel.
Buddy Holly fans shouldn't miss the drive to Clear Lake, where a larger-than-life pair of horn-rimmed glasses marks the place where the rock icon died in a plane crash in 1959. In the downtown core, sunset cruises on the Lady of the Lake sternwheel paddleboat promise a bar, bandstand, and dance floor. Charles City is an hour northeast and promises lashings of historic charm. Browse mom-and-pop shops on Main Street, admire heritage-listed homes, and relax in Riverfront Park. Thrillseekers can take on the rapids of Iowa's first whitewater park on the Cedar River.
Des Moines is an hour and a half south and is a great place to rent a camper near Beeds Lake State Park and kickstart a Midwest road trip. Other options are Minneapolis and St Paul, both a two-and-a-half-hour drive north. A huge selection of RV rentals is available in the Twin Cities, ranging from small campers to family-sized rigs.