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In Taylor County, around ten minutes north of the town of Bedford, is a beautiful 85-acre lake within a 691-acre recreation area characterized by lush oak and hickory woodlands. Lake of Three Fires State Park beckons visitors from all over Iowa and Missouri with hiking and equestrian trails and two well-equipped campgrounds. You can expect to find both Hopkins and New Market campers relaxing here, as both of these towns are within 20 minutes of the state park.
The Potawatomi tribe, also referred to as the “Fire Nation,” farmed, lived, and traveled through this part of Iowa. The legend goes that three of the region's indigenous tribes formed an alliance called “Three Fires”, and three flames were kept alive atop the highest points in the region to symbolize their unity. If one of the three flames was extinguished, it meant that one of the tribes continued on their own. The lake is named after that symbol.
Today, Lake of Three Fires State Park is a place where people come to fish, hunt, swim, picnic, paddle, hike, and ride their horses. If you want to explore the park and experience its charm, search for an RV in Taylor County and reserve an RV camping site.
Lake of Three Fires State Park boasts over ten miles of multi-use trails that are a combination of grass, dirt, and rock, winding around the lakeshore and through the woods. In the winter, snowmobiling is permitted on the trails. Since the paths take hikers and horseback riders along the lake and through the wetlands, forests, and thickets, you'll have a good opportunity to observe the wildlife along the way. You might spot great blue heron near the lake, red-shouldered and broad-winged hawks nesting in the woods, and lots of critters like hares, raccoons, and squirrels.
Lake of Three Fires features a diverse selection of fish for anglers, as well as multiple boat ramps that you can use to explore the lake from your watercraft. If you're planning on exploring the lake with a motorboat, bear in mind that you must operate it at no-wake speed. Cast your line and try your luck reeling in bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, and largemouth bass. The swimming area is within a short walking distance from the campground, making it easy to go for a swim or organize a volleyball match with your friends. The park is also near two hunting areas, making it an excellent base camp for those looking to enjoy a fruitful hunting trip.
Near the lake, there are two modern state park RV campgrounds that have sites with electric hookups. Bear in mind that you'll have to reserve those spots in advance because the majority of sites don't have hookups.
As far as the size of your RV rental goes, you won’t have to be too concerned, as the park can accommodate huge RVs over 120 feet in length. The campsites also offer standard amenities like hot showers, a dump station, toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, and fire pits. You can also bring your dog to tag along since the park is pet-friendly.
If you're not camping in an RV, Lake of Three Fires State Park offers a few camping cabins equipped with all the comforts of home.
The park's proximity to Bedford is definitely a plus for visitors, as they can easily refill their tank at one of the gas stations nearby or go for a meal in a restaurant if they don't feel like preparing their own food. Those interested in the history of Taylor County can go to Taylor County Historical Museum, located in Bedford. This is a large historical complex where you can see a 19th-century log cabin, an old rural schoolhouse, bank, print shop, a small chapel, and a round barn. Visitors will get a glimpse of what life was like for citizens of Bedford in the 1800s.
Past New Market is a town called Clarinda, where you'll find a lovely art museum, as well as more diverse dining options, including Mexican and Chinese restaurants, pizzerias, grills, and steakhouses. Anyone who loves fine arts will have a great time at Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum. Exhibits include absorbing paintings, impressive sculptures, and figurines sculpted from local artists.
As Clarinda is in Page County, you can visit the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum and learn about this area. The museum is fairly small, but it has accumulated a collection of artifacts and antiques through donations. Spend an hour or two checking out a decent collection of old cars, chariots, and an array of other historic items.