10 Water Activities in Iowa

Summer is the prime season for family time and outdoor adventures galore—especially if they involve fun, water adventures, too. Between the warmer temperatures and Iowa’s wide array of waters hubs, there’s plenty of opportunity to make a splash this summer and tap into Iowa’s water activities.

Photo courtesy Saylorville Lake Marina.

Take the boat out on Saylorville Lake

Maybe the only thing better than actually swimming through water is getting to cruise along on top of it. Iowa has boating opportunities aplenty—but none are quite as picturesque (or seamless) as the experience at Saylorville Lake. Besides offering several spots for boat launches and lakeside beaching, Saylorville Lake is also great for fishing, wildlife watching and more, making it an all-around favorite for water activities in Iowa. Plus, the Saylorville Marina is also a great destination for kicking back with a beer and some light bites. For more information, visit www.saylorvillelakemarina.com.

Photo courtesy US Army Corps Engineers.

Kick back on the beach at Lake Red Rock

Iowa might not have a reputation for being a beach destination, but make no mistake—the state is actually home to several hidden, beachside hotspots that rest right alongside the shores of Iowa’s most visited lakes. One, in particular, being Lake Red Rock—which is hailed as being Iowa’s largest lake, as it plays host to more than 15,000 acres of water and two beaches (including North Overlook and Whitebreast). Any outdoor adventurer will love having the opportunity to explore and kick back at these beachside hotspots—all while camping out at one of the area’s neighboring campgrounds, too. For more information, visit www.iowadnr.gov.

Photo courtesy Adventureland Park.

Refresh yourself at Adventureland Park

Whether it’s a dip in the Breaker Beach Wave Pool, a jaunt down the Pirates Plummet Slide or a relaxing swim in the Caribbean Cruiser Lazy River, Adventureland Resort and the amusement park’s corresponding Adventureland Bay is home to so many great water adventure options that are truly fun for the entire family. Plus, with season pass offerings starting at $160, you can enjoy the perks of Iowa’s premier waterpark destination all summer long. For more information, visit www.adventurelandresort.com

Photo courtesy Blue Heron Eco Cruise.

Make your way up the Mississippi River on a river cruise

Looking for more nature-centric water activities in Iowa this summer? Look no further than the Blue Heron Eco Cruise—a 24-passenger pontoon boat that helps to give cruisers an up-close and personal look at the Mississippi River. The river boat ride takes travelers through backwaters, sloughs and the main channel, all while providing riders the chance to get an up-close glimpse of Iowa’s lush wildlife, bird habitat, sand pits and more. For more information, visit www.mycountyparks.com

Photo courtesy Iowa DNR.

Go fishing at Lake Ahquabi

Let’s be real: fishing is fun in any season. But come summertime, the sport becomes even more enjoyable with the warm waters, endless sunshine and abundance of fishing opportunities. As locals and tourists alike will tell you, Lake Ahquabi is one of Iowa’s most popular fishing hubs, known for boasting a diverse population of fish that includes everything from Bluegill and Channel Catfish to Largemouth Bass and more. For more information, visit www.iowadnr.gov.

Photo courtesy Seven Oaks Recreation.

Get exploring at Seven Oaks Recreation

Seven Oaks Recreation is home to some of the best summer water activities in Iowa—including everything from full-service canoe, kayak and river tube floats to a number of group paddling or floating adventures, the recreating group plays host to premiere water adventures in Des Moines that are perfect for cooling down and making a splash this season. For more information, visit www.sevenoaksrec.com.

Photo courtesy Dallas County Iowa.

Make a splash on the Raccoon River Water Trail

Iowa’s beloved Raccoon River Water Trail runs for approximately 19 miles to the confluence with the North Raccoon River near Van Meter. The water channel is the perfect place for exploring Iowa’s pristine, untouched natural areas alongside the waterways, and can best be enjoyed via classic water sporting tools like kayaks, canoes and more. There are five public access areas along this water trail in Dallas County—leaving even more opportunity for water adventure all throughout Iowa, regardless of where you’re located. For more information, visit www.dallascountyiowa.gov.

Photo courtesy Extreme Water Sports.

Get your adventure on at Lake Okoboji 

Lake Okoboji is hailed as one of Iowa’s go-to destinations for water adventure—thanks to Extreme Water Sports Iowa, that is. The rental company offers everything and more to help visitors to the Arnolds Park area tap into their most daring selves. Whether you’re looking to enjoy some more classic water sports fun via kayaking or jet skiing, or you’re hoping to embrace your inner-adrenaline junkie via explorative fun like parasailing, water jets and more, Extreme Water Sports makes water adventure easier than ever—and perfect for summer. For more information, visit www.extremewatersports.us.

Photo courtesy LeClaire Boat Cruise.

Ride the waters of a LeClaire Boat Cruise

Perhaps the best way to take in the sights of LeClaire is on the deck of an old-fashioned boat cruise. And fortunately for the city’s locals and tourists alike, that adventure is more than plausible thanks to Riverboat Twilight—a riverboat cruise that travels north and helps riders take in the sights of the Mississippi River, its wildlife and the state’s most popular river towns. For more information, visit www.riverboattwilight.com.

Photo courtesy Lost Island Waterpark.

Make memories at Lost Island Waterpark

Iowa might not have a reputation for being tropical, but at Lost Island Waterpark, visitors can enjoy an exotic and water-centric escape all within the heart of Waterloo. From family adventures and daring water rides to roller coasters, a charming arcade and more, the amusement park is really a must-visit destination for kiddos of all ages—with plenty of fun for the adults, too. For more information, visit www.thelostisland.com.

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