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If you're searching for somewhere to enjoy a quintessential Iowa camping experience, look no further than Lake Darling State Park. Located five miles east of Richland in the state's southeast, this 1,417-acre park is a haven for watersports and outdoor enthusiasts.
Lake Darling itself covers 302 acres, so campers can enjoy excellent swimming, boating, and fishing in the park. Several miles of hiking trails make Lake Darling a favorite with hikers. A modern campground is also available on-site, so there are plenty of good reasons why Lake Darling State Park should be the venue for your next RV camping vacation.
As you'd expect, many of the most popular outdoor activities in Lake Darling State Park are watersports. On a hot summer's day, Lake Darling State Park campers make a beeline for the beach area to either enjoy a cooling swim or just soak up the sunshine. A nearby playground provides some extra entertainment for younger visitors.
If you'd like to get out on the water, the calm lake is ideal for paddling. Kayaks, paddleboats, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent from Memorial Day weekend right through until Labor Day weekend. Powerboats are also welcome on the lake as long as they leave no wake.
Lake Darling State Park also has a well-earned reputation as a great fishing destination, with two boat ramps around the lake shoreline ensuring easy access to the water. Crappie, catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, and several other species can be caught here, so you'll have plenty of chances to hook a big one.
The other most popular way to spend the day in Lake Darling State Park is to take a hike. You'll find several different hiking trails to choose from, but a particular highlight is the 13.6-mile trail that loops its way around the lake. Walking the full trail will lead you through native prairie, wetlands, and woodlands, and offer some great views along the way. Of course, make sure you pack plenty of water and use lots of sunscreen if you're planning on tackling such a long trek.
If you love hiking almost as much as you love fishing, you might even like to head to the southern edge of the lake. There, you'll find a paved fishing trail that's a mile and a half long and offers easy lake access. It's also designed to be fully accessible for people with disabilities.
If you want to camp with an RV at Lake Darling State Park, search for a rental RV in Washington County and then find yourself a spot in the park's large campground. Sites available include:
Two shower and restroom buildings cater for all campers, while there's a dump station provided for added convenience. Kids' playground equipment is also available to keep younger campers happy.
Sites are gravel and can accommodate RVs of varying sizes, including some pull-through sites designed for big rigs up to 140 feet long. It's also worth pointing out that, while 75% percent of sites can be reserved in advance, the remaining 25% are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Dog owners will love the fact that pets are more than welcome in the campground. However, you'll need to keep your pet leashed and clean up after them whenever the need arises.
Camping cabins are also available for rent within the park, perhaps if you're traveling with friends or family who don't fancy camping in an RV.
When you've finished RV camping in Lake Darling State Park and you're ready to hit the road again, you'll find plenty of other places worth stopping and exploring in the surrounding area.
Take a short drive to the northeast and you'll find yourself in the pretty little city of Washington, where history buffs will love checking out the State Theater and the Conger House Museum.
If you'd rather lose yourself in another great Iowa state park, Lake Keomah State Park is an hour's drive away. A popular fishing and swimming spot, the park also has a great campground.
If you'd rather head somewhere a little busier, Iowa City is just over an hour to the northeast. While you're there, make sure you treat the kids to a hands-on learning experience at the Iowa Children's Museum.
From swimming and fishing to history and culture, there's so much to experience and enjoy when you rent a motorhome near Lake Darling State Park. What are you waiting for?