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Lake Manawa State Park is a pristine oasis in the heart of the Omaha Metropolitan Area. The lake was formed by an oxbow in the Missouri River, which flooded in the late 1800s and created a 750-acre reservoir. Today, the park is one of the most popular outdoor recreation areas in the Midwest, with swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking just some of the activities on offer. The park draws its name from the Native American term meaning "peace and comfort," which you're guaranteed to find at Lake Manawa.
Planning a getaway to the Hawkeye State? Book an RV in Pottawattamie County and you can spend the day soaking up the sunshine at Lake Manawa State Park. You'll find a fantastic selection of campgrounds and RV parks within an hour's drive of the park, most with picturesque settings by the Missouri or Platte Rivers. With a home on wheels, you can also explore other Midwest gems like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas.
The 750-acre reservoir at Lake Manawa State Park provides a picturesque backdrop for swimming, boating, and fishing. Top up your tan on the sandy beach and cool off in the clear water. Picnic shelters dot the shoreline and are great for enjoying lunch with a view. Be sure to load up on Iowa delicacies like pork tenderloin and sweet corn. Group shelters can be reserved and are great if you're planning a family reunion, birthday party, or a wedding.
If you're casting a line, expect to reel in crappie, bluegill, and catfish throughout the year. The lake is also well-stocked with bass and walleye. Lake Manawa is also one of the best destinations in the state for boating enthusiasts. Boat launches are located on three sides of the lake and make it easy to launch your own boat. If you don't have your own craft, you can also rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats from the local concession.
Seven miles of paved trails wind through the park and are ideal for stretching your legs or enjoying a scenic bike ride. For a longer hike, hit the Wabash Trace Trail or walk to the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge that links Council Bluffs with Omaha. You'll also find unpaved trails suited to mountain biking. Facilities like the sand volleyball court, sand volleyball court, and snack stand make Lake Manawa a favorite with families.
While there's no camping at Lake Manawa State Park, you will find a good selection of RV parks in the Omaha metropolitan area. Most are set by rivers or lakes and promise a serene setting and plenty of peace and quiet. Riverwest Park is a local favorite, with sandy beaches, grassy campsites and direct access to the river. Across the border in Nebraska, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park features a scenic campground by the Platte River. Glenn Cunningham Lake is another picturesque option for RV camping near Lake Manawa State Park.
Horseshoe Casino RV Park, also known as Bluffs Run RV Park, is a 15-minute drive from the lake and can accommodate vehicles of up to 45 feet in length. It's best to book in advance, especially if you're traveling over the summer. Camping with a dog? Rent a pet-friendly RV and bring your buddy along for your Iowa camping adventures.
RV camping near Lake Manawa State Park is a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with nature without venturing too far from the city. You're an easy drive from local attractions with the Omaha Metropolitan Area, including the Durham Museum and the bustling Old Market dining and entertainment district. Kids are guaranteed to love the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, where you can get up close with exotic animals and colorful sea creatures. In Council Bluffs, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum recalls the legacy of America's premier railroad.
Lake Manawa hosts family-friendly events throughout the year, including Fourth of July Fireworks and the Black Squirrel Triathlon in August. The park is also a popular stomping ground for campers attending the NCAA College World Series in June. In winter, Lake Manawa hosts the annual Winter-Fest Ice Fishing Derby. Gas, food, and other motorhome camping essentials can be found throughout Council Bluffs and Omaha. Both cities offer a huge selection of campervan rentals, ranging from small trailers to spacious family-sized rigs. Des Moines is a two-hour drive east and is another great place to rent a camper near Lake Manawa State Park.