Lake Anita State Park is a delightful 1000+ acre park and an excellent spot for relaxation and outdoor adventures in west-central Iowa. This beautiful park has a paved trail, a large campground, picnic areas, and so much more! That’s not to mention the scenic 160-acre lake for swimming, fishing, and boating.
Find it 4 miles south of Interstate 80 between Des Moines and Omaha-Council Bluffs.
Table of Contents
- A brief history of Lake Anita State Park
- Things to do at Lake Anita State Park
- Park Map
- Lake Anita State Park Campground
- Things to do nearby
- Visit Lake Anita State Park today!
A brief history of Lake Anita State Park
Lake Anita became part of the Iowa State Parks system during widespread park development following World War II. It was named after the nearby town of Anita.
The initial land was purchased in 1961, and lake construction started in 1963 with a dam on a tributary of the Nishnabotna River. Park structures were built in the mid-1960s, and a federal grant facilitated the construction of the beach and picnic shelters. The park was dedicated in May of 1969 by Governor Robert Ray. 1
The park underwent lake restoration in 2003 and again in 2013-14. Today, it’s also expanded to its current 1062 acres.
Things to do at Lake Anita State Park
• Spend the day at the beach.
Whether you want to relax in the sun, take a dip in the water, or play a little sand volleyball, the beach is the place to go! The sand beach has a roped-off swimming area and nearby picnic areas and is a great place to spend a day lakeside.
• Go camping
The large campground is a huge draw at the park, with excellent lake views. It’s a scenic, fun place to camp, with modern amenities and a playground.
Electric, full hookup, tent, and youth group campsites are available. See the campground section below for more details.
• Explore the trails
Lake Anita has 5 miles of scenic trails.
Grass Roots Trail: This paved trail is just over four miles long. It’s perfect for biking or hiking around the lake and through prairie and woodlands. It connects to downtown Anita and shares the park road in some spots.
Lake Anita Interpretive Trail: This .3-mile self-guided nature trail is soft-surfaced and has information about local trees.
Fishing is one of the more popular outdoor activities at Lake Anita for a good reason. The lake provides suitable fish habitat and easy access to anglers fishing by shore or boat.
Find several fishing jetties around the lake and a fishing pier with a fish cleaning station near the park road. Two boat ramps and pontoon dock rental are available for those fishing by boat.
According to the Iowa DNR, anglers catch Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Green Sunfish, Channel Catfish, Sunfish, and Walleye. The lake is sometimes stocked with Channel Catfish and Walleye.
• Have a lakeside picnic.
What could be better than a lakeside picnic? The good news is there are plenty of excellent picnic spots at Lake Anita State Park!
Seven covered open-air picnic shelters are available by reservation and otherwise first-come, first-serve. Other picnic areas are also available throughout the park.
• Take your boat to the lake.
Two boat ramps are available at Lake Anita, along with pontoon dock rentals. Find one boat ramp on the lake’s northeast corner (just off the road to the campground) and the other on the eastern shore not far from the beach area.*
*The lake is open to all motors, but all boats must operate at no-wake speeds (<5mph).
Lake Anita State Park Campground
This state park campground is one you don’t want to miss! Between the lake views and many great outdoor activities, it’s a great place to stay. Plus, most sites are reservable ahead of time. See the campground details below:
- 161 campsites: 40 full hookups, 4 electric & water, 48 electric, and 69 non-electric sites
- Youth group campsite
- Modern restrooms/showers
- Dump station on site
- Many sites with lake views
- Most sites are reservable at Reserve America
- See the campground map here.
Things to do nearby
Since you’re likely traveling to the park on Interstate 80, you might check out some fun I-80 attractions, like the nearby Jesse James Historic Site.
Littlefield Recreation Area is 11 miles north of Lake Anita. This well-maintained county park has a lake, campground, beach, picnic shelters, and much more.
Sunnyside Park is a great place for outdoor recreation in Atlantic, 16 miles from Lake Anita. The 50-acre park has a swimming pool, disc golf course, basketball courts, skate park, playgrounds, tennis courts and trails.
The Schildberg Recreation Area is 16 miles west of Lake Anita, near Atlantic. This scenic park has three lakes and a 1½ mile of paved trail. It also features a native prairie, a campground, a fishing pier, a dog park, picnic areas, and playgrounds.
The T-Bone Trail is a nearby rail trail managed as a joint effort by Audubon and Cass Counties. This paved, 20-mile trail extends from Audubon south to Atlantic. It’s perfect for biking or walking.
Visit the Iowa Aviation Museum near Greenfield, Iowa, 24 miles southeast of Lake Anita. This museum is home to the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame and has several vintage planes on display. It’s open from April – November.
The Museum of Danish America is 27 miles northwest of Lake Anita in Elk Horn. This museum is on 35 acres of prairie and won’t disappoint! Three floors of Danish-American exhibits include a model Danish fishing boat you can explore, videos, and much more. And, while there, consider seeing the Little Mermaid statue and eight other Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale statues. Find these 3.5 miles north of the museum (in Kimballton).
Visit Lake Icaria, just 30 miles south of Lake Anita, for even more boating, swimming, hiking, and camping opportunities! The 650-acre lake offers a gamut of water activities – plus relaxing campgrounds and cabins with killer lake views!
Visit Lake Anita State Park today!
Lake Anita is at 55111 750th St, Anita, IA 50020.
1. Lake Anita State Park Recreational Use Plan. Iowa Department of Natural Resources. https://www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/parks/plans/rup_anita.pdf