Geode State Park is called “Iowa’s Outdoor Gem,”1 and is a fantastic escape to nature in Southeast Iowa! The 1640-acre park has a 180-acre lake, perfect for boating, fishing, and beachgoing. Visitors also love picnicking, hiking, and camping in this scenic park.
A Brief History of Geode State Park
Before European settlers arrived, Native Americans occupied the area around Geode State Park. It’s said they called the region “Shoquoquon,” which meant “flint hills.”2
In the early 19th century, the American Fur Company set up a trading post in the area. And a few years later, more settlers arrived and started the town of Shoquoquon (later named Burlington).2
Later, a particularly scenic and forested part of the region became a state park in 1937. It started as a small (~100-acre) area called Flint Hills State Park. But, by the 1940s, it grew to over 1600 acres and had changed its name. Then, in 1950, a 180-acre lake was built.3
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed many park structures in the park’s early years, including a beach house, roads, and picnic shelters.
The park has had several names. As mentioned, it began as Flint Hills State Park and was once named Danville State Park. Today, it’s called Geode State Park after Iowa’s state rock – the geode.
Things to do at Geode State Park
Hike along the shores of Lake Geode! Choose your own hiking adventure – hike a part of the 7-mile loop trail, or spend a few hours hiking the entire thing.
The main trail starts on the lake’s north side and extends south to the dam. Hikers can then cross the dam and pick up the trail on the lake’s west side to make a loop. The Iowa DNR reports the trail as moderate difficulty.
Camping is one of the most popular park activities for a good reason! The campground has over 80 electric and non-electric campsites, with modern on-site amenities. See details below in this article’s campground section.
Lake Geode was drained and renovated in 2018, improving the lakebed and fish habitat. Since then, it’s become a well-known fishing spot in Southeast Iowa!
So toss in a line and fish by boat or by shore. Anglers often catch largemouth bass, catfish, sunrise, bluegill, and crappie.
Spend a day at the beach.
Sunbathe, picnic, or swim at the beach! A playground, concession area, and shelter are nearby. Find the beach on the lake’s northeast side.
- No lifeguards on duty.
- Check for safe water conditions. Find beach monitoring status here.
Have a picnic
Whether you have a small or large group, there are plenty of picnic options at Geode State Park! Find picnic tables throughout the park, or use one of the covered picnic shelters.
Four open-air picnic shelters are available for reservations and otherwise first-come, first-serve.
Boating is allowed at no-wake speeds (<5 mph); in-board motors are not allowed (including jet skis). Two boat ramps are at the park on the lake’s east side.
Some visitors bring their bikes and enjoy biking through the park’s four miles of roadways. Also, the Southeast Iowa Bike Route is nearby, linking Geode State Park to Lacey Keosauqua State Park.
The geode became Iowa’s state rock in 1967.
Geodes are hollow rocks with a surprising, sparkly interior! When you crack open a geode, you find a beautiful crystal core.
According to the Iowa Geological Survey, “Most Iowa geodes are roughly spherical, often lumpy or cauliflower-like on the exterior, with diameters typically ranging from about two to six inches.”
Southeast Iowa is a popular area for finding geodes – particularly around Keokuk. They’re often found in Henry, Lee, and Van Buren counties, including Geode State Park. However, geode collecting is prohibited within park boundaries.
Geode State Park Campground
Camping is a favorite park activity! The large campground is within walking distance of the lake and has something for everyone.
- 90 campsites: full hookup, electric, and non-electric tent sites
- Two modern restroom/shower buildings
- Dump station
- Reservations accepted
- See the campground map here.
Things to do nearby
Starr’s Cave Nature Center is 15 miles east of the park and a fun place to hike, see fossils, have a picnic, and attend nature programs.
Shimek State Forest is 36 miles southwest of the park and a great place to go hiking! This 9400+ acre nature area is perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in nature.
Visit historic Nauvoo, Illinois, a 40-minute drive south of the park. Learn about Mormon history, see The Temple, visit the state park, and browse the historic district’s shops and boutiques.
Lacey Keosauqua State Park is about 45 miles west of Geode State Park. This beautiful park has miles of hiking trails, camping and cabins, and historic park structures.
Visit Geode State Park Today!
Find Geode State Park at 3333 Racine Ave, Danville, IA 52623
1. Friends of Geode State Park (n.d.). History. Retrieved May 16, 2023, from https://www.friendsofgeode.org/about
2. (1937). Iowa’s State Parks & Preserves (p. 44). Iowa State Conservation Commission. http://publications.iowa.gov/21694/1/Iowas%20State%20Parks%20and%20Preserves%201937.pdf
3. Iowa Departement of Natural Resources (n.d.). Geode State Park. Iowa DNR. Retrieved May 16, 2023, from https://www.iowadnr.gov/portals/idnr/uploads/parks/parkmaps/geodemap.pdf