Elinor Bedell State Park is a beautiful 80-acre park on East Okoboji Lake, offering a perfect mix of outdoor activities and natural beauty. Best of all? It’s near Iowa’s most popular vacation destination – the Iowa Great Lakes!
Read on to see everything to do at this popular state park! From hiking and biking to camping and picnicking, this small park really packs a punch!
Visiting Okoboji? See the Top 10 Things to Do in Okoboji: Iowa’s Favorite Outdoor Vacation Destination
Looking for Okoboji boat rentals? Okoboji Boat Rentals: A Guide to the Best Boat Rentals in Okoboji [+ cruises]
A brief history of the park
The park became part of Iowa’s State Park system when Berkley and Elinor Bedell generously gifted the land to the Iowa DNR. The donation realized the couple’s long-held dream of transforming the lakeside property into a haven for recreation and conservation.
Berkley Bedell, once a US Congressman, and his wife, Elinor, were longtime residents in the Iowa Great Lakes area.
In the 1950s, the Bedells bought what is now the parkland along the shores of East Okoboji Lake.1
Soon after the Bedell’s donated the land in 1998, a picnic shelter and playground were built, along with a small campground and trails.
Besides recreation, one of the park’s goals is to protect and restore prairie, wetlands, and oak savanna.
Things to do at Elinor Bedell State Park
Explore the trails
A scenic (and accessible!) paved trail system extends throughout the park, through the wetlands and prairie, and along the lakeshore! It’s a peaceful place to walk or bike through nature, with over a mile of trails to explore.
The small campground has everything you need and is close to all the fun activities in the Okoboji area! For more details, see the campground section below.
Play at Shelby’s Playground
This super fun playground offers kids climbing structures, a playhouse, sand play, and so much more!
It’s specially designed for kids ages two to five in honor of two-year-old Shelby Duis, a local toddler who died from abuse.
Have a picnic
What better place to have a picnic than at a beautiful lakeside park? The park has several picnic tables, and the reservable shelter is perfect for larger gatherings.
The covered open-air picnic shelter has a kitchen and restrooms with lake views.
With the diverse range of habitats at the park, wildlife-watching opportunities abound!
Birdwatching is a popular activity since the protected land on the lakeshores draws a variety of species. (The park borders The Narrows Preserve, fifty acres of protected land owned by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.)
Elinor Bedell State Park Campground
Don’t let the size of this campground fool you! It has all the modern amenities you could want., and it’s super close to everything in the Okoboji area.
Below are the campground details:
- Eight full hookup campsites, all pull-through
- Modern restrooms
- Youth group campsite
- Limited shade
- Access to the trail system
- Reservations are accepted at ReserveAmerica.com
- See the campground map here.
More area campgrounds? Okoboji Campgrounds: The Ultimate Guide to Camping near Okoboji in Iowa
Things to do nearby
The park is just six short miles from Arnolds Park and other Okoboji attractions! So, if you’re camping or visiting this state park, the beach, amusement park, restaurants, and other lakeside activities are nearby!
Head six miles north to Hales Slough Wildlife Area for a quiet escape to nature. There, you can access boat ramps and fishing opportunities on Big Spirit Lake. The slough is also an excellent spot to kayak or canoe in calmer waters.
Templar State Recreation Area, Marble Beach State Recreation Area, and Mini-Wakan State Park are all on the shores of Big Spirit Lake and just a few miles from Elinor Bedell State Park. All have boat ramps, fishing, and picnicking spots. Also, Marble Beach has a large campground.
Visit Elinor Bedell State Park today!
Find Elinor Bedell State Park at 1619 260th Ave, Spirit Lake, IA 51360.
1. Skipper, J. (2001, August 29). Elinor Bedell State Park To Be Dedicated Sept. 3. Globe Gazette. https://globegazette.com/elinor-bedell-state-park-to-be-dedicated-sept-3/article_60e0e884-e1a5-5c9c-bd9b-271518db676f.html