Discover Viking Lake State Park, a cherished 1000-acre park in Southwest Iowa! This tranquil park teems with native plants and wildlife and features a beautiful 130-acre lake as its centerpiece. It offers visitors unforgettable experiences with hiking, fishing, boating, lakeside camping, and more. In other words, this southwest Iowa gem is one you’ll want on your list of must-see parks!
Find Viking Lake State Park in southwest Iowa, near Stanton, Iowa.
Table of Contents
- A brief history of Viking Lake State Park
- Things to do at Viking Lake State Park
- Viking Lake State Park Camping
- Park Map
- Things to do nearby
- Visit Viking Lake State Park today!
A brief history of Viking Lake State Park
Viking Lake became part of the Iowa State Park system during widespread park development following World War II. The location for Viking Lake State Park was identified in the mid-1940s, but the project started taking shape in the mid-1950s.
During the construction of park structures, discovered artifacts indicated indigenous peoples once called the area home.
The park was dedicated in 1957 after a local contest determined the name would be Viking Lake State Park.
It underwent renovations in the 2000s, improving trails, camping, and water quality.
Today, the park remains one of the most popular southwest Iowa parks and a natural destination for locals and visitors alike.
Things to do at Viking Lake State Park
#1 Go camping!
Lakeside camping in Iowa? Yes, please! The Viking Lake State Park campground is among the best spots in Iowa for camping along a peaceful shoreline.
The large campground has everything from non-electric tent campsites to pull-through and full hookup sites. It’s a fantastic campground to escape to nature! See the camping section later in this article for more campground details.
#2 Hike the trails.
The two trails at this Iowa State Park offer some of the best hiking in the state’s southwest corner.
• Bur Oak Interpretive Trail is a 1-mile, out-and-back nature trail, excellent for noticing the native plants and trees around you. A booklet at the trailhead helps point out features on the route.
• White Tail Trail (or Viking Lake Trail) is a six-mile trail through remote areas and along the lakeshores. There is a shorter 3-mile(ish) loop on the park’s southeast side, beginning in the campground. But if you want to go further, take the out-and-back trail spur to the north and around the lake’s northwest side. See the trail map on the park brochure for details.
After lake renovations in 2009, Viking Lake has become a favorite among anglers of all ages and abilities! So, whether you fish by boat or shore, it’s a great lake for catching several species, like Bluegill, Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Sunfish, Crappie, and more! Catfish and Walleye are stocked occasionally.
Several accessible fishing jetties offer excellent shore access, and four boat ramps provide lake access. Note that boats must operate at no wake speeds (< 5mph).
#4 Go boating
Whether fishing or cruising around the tranquil lake, visitors have a few different boating options.
Any size motor is allowed at the lake, operating at no-wake speeds (< 5mph). And if you have a kayak or canoe, the serene waters are an excellent spot to explore. Find four boat ramps around the lake.
#5 Spend a day at the beach.
What better way to spend a warm summer day than lakeside? The swimming beach is a large sandy beach, perfect for dipping your toes in the water or having a lakeside picnic!
- No lifeguards on duty.
- Check for safe water conditions. Find beach monitoring status here.
#6 Have a picnic or event.
You can’t beat a serene lakeside picnic! And this park is ideal for any picnic or gathering.
If you’re hosting a large group or event, three picnic shelters and a lodge are available by reservation.
- The lakeside lodge is an enclosed gathering area with a large kitchen, perfect for big events.
- The lower picnic area also has an enclosed kitchenette attached to an open-air space.
- The other two shelters are smaller, with no kitchen facilities.
Outdoor seating at picnic shelters is available first-come, first-serve when they’re not already reserved.
Viking Lake State Park Camping
The Viking Lake State Park Campground is one of the most popular around! It’s an excellent Iowa camping destination with several lakeside sites, plenty of outdoor recreation, and nearby attractions. Read on for campground details.
- Over 100 campsites: non-electric tent sites, buddy sites, full hookups, & electric sites
- Mostly back-in with a few pull-through spots.
- Some lakeside sites
- One youth group campsite
- Modern restrooms/showers
- Dump station on site
- Parking area
- Make online reservations here.
Things to do nearby
Nearby Stanton, Iowa, is home to The World’s Largest Swedish Coffee Pot & Cup! These water towers are really something to see. The coffee cup and saucer water tower stands 95 feet tall and is found in town. Meanwhile, the largest coffee pot has been lowered and can be viewed at the Swedish Heritage & Cultural Center.
Hacklebarney Woods County Park is a 230-acre park 7 miles east of Viking Lake. It offers camping (including full hookup sites), hiking and equestrian trails, fishing, kayaking, picnicking, and more!
If you love creepy tours and paranormal places, consider visiting the Villisca Axe Murder House, 10 miles southeast of the park. It’s the site of a family murdered in 1912 that many claim is haunted. Daytime tours and overnight stays(!) are available!
The Restored Burlington Northern Depot & WWII Museum is 12 miles away in Red Oak, Iowa. The depot is recognized on the National Registry of Historic Places. It’s free and open during limited hours and by appointment.
Stop in Corning, Iowa, 20 miles east of the park, to see more local attractions! The French Icarian Village, Johnny Carson Birthplace, and Adams County House of History are a few local historic attractions. Other things include the Corning Aquatic Center and the Corning American Theater.
Lake Icaria is 25 miles northeast of Viking Lake (just north of Corning). It’s a fantastic place to go boating, fishing, or camping. But that’s not all! You can also rent a cabin and spend the day at the beach!
The Wabash Trace Nature Trail is west of Viking Lake, with the closest trailhead in Malvern, Iowa. This 63-mile trail spans from the Missouri/Iowa border north to Council Bluffs, with many great stops along the route!
Visit Viking Lake State Park today!
Viking Lake State Park is at 2780 Viking Lake Rd, Stanton, IA 51573
Viking Lake State Park is about 45 miles south of Interstate 80 from Exit 60 near Atlantic. Take Hwy 71 south, turn left on Hwy 34W, left on Q Ave, and left at H42/230th St.