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Big Creek State Park

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General Information

Description - Big Creek State Lake was created as part of the Saylorville project to protect Polk City form floods. A diversion dam which forms the 866-acre Big Creek Lake Saylorville was primarily a flood control project but also offers a wide variety of recreation. Big Creek State Park and the adjoining public hunting areas provide recreation for visitors of all ages and interests. The focal point of the 3,550- acre complex is the lake.

Attractions - Picnicking/Shelters

Shelters and picnic areas, a beach, playground, a multi-purpose sports field and several boat ramps provide a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. Open picnic shelters, located in pleasant settings around the lake, may be reserved for a fee through the concessionaire. The brown picnic tables are handicapped accessible.


Camping is not permitted at Big Creek State Park. However, there are several large federal camping areas about four miles away on Saylorville Lake.


A 26-mile paved multi-use trail allows bicyclists and pedestrians to travel from the beach south through the Saylorville Lake area all the way to Des Moines. Thirteen miles of snowmobile trails provide winter recreational opportunities. Big Creek is also popular with cross-country skiers.

The Central Iowa State Park Bike Route is a 160-mile loop connecting Big Creek, Ledges and Springbrook state parks primarily utilizing paved county highways and the paved Raccoon Bicycle Trail. Ride it all for an adventure or ride only a portion of it for a weekend trek. The route ambles through 14 charming towns, is relatively flat, with a few challenging hills as you make your way across the picturesque valleys of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers. Carry your own gear and "rough it" in the campgrounds or take comfort in a local bed and breakfast or motel along the route. Some bed and breakfasts and park concessionaires offer a shuttle service for gear or luggage for a nominal fee. Reservations for gear shuttle must be made in advance.

Lake Activities (swimming, boating, fishing)

Big Creek Lake's clear water provides great family swimming fun. Refreshments are available at the beach during the swimming season. A large wooden play structure, accessible to the mobility impaired, is located at the beach.

Big Creek Lake provides excellent fishing year-round. The lake's clear waters are stocked with crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, channel catfish and muskie. The lake is popular for a variety of boating activities. Any size motor may be operated at "no wake" speeds on the lake. Five modern boat ramps, three on the west side and two on the east, provide excellent access to the lake. A gravel ramp is located on the upper end of the lake. Sailboat rigging zones and vehicle parking areas are at each modern ramp. A 102-berth "dry-dock" area is at the northeast corner of the park. Arrangements for rental of dry-docking space may be made through the park ranger. A fishing pier, is accessible to the mobility impaired.


The state park is a wildlife refuge where hunting is not permitted. However, hunting is allowed on the lake itself and in designated public hunting areas around the lake. Upland areas open for hunting are marked with public hunting signs. Favorite game includes pheasants, rabbit, deer and squirrel. Waterfowl hunting is popular on the lake. Information on hunting regulations canbe found at: http://www.iowadnr.com/wildlife/index.html

Charles "Butch" Olofoson Shooting Range

The shooting range is located off Highway 415, three miles northwest of the park entrance adn offers sheltered stations for firing handguns and rifles. The range is operated by a private concessionaire and is open to the public year round. The hours are Wednesday - Friday 12 P.M. to sunset and Saturday adn Sunday 8 A.M to sunset. A recently developed trap and skeet area also provides challenging recreational opportunities at this complex. The trap adn skeet area is available Wednesday - Friday 3 P.M. until dark adn Saturday and Sunday 8 A.M. until dark. This area also provides a classroom facility for hunter education, training, and meetings. Please the call 515-795-2067 or 515-238-6977 for information, upcoming events or change in hours.

Location - Polk City is two miles south on Iowa highway 415. Des Moines is 11 miles south. Ankeny is 8 miles south-east. Madrid is seven miles north. Ames is 20 miles north.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Big Creek State Park, 12397 NW 89th Court , Polk City, IA , 50226, Phone: 515/984-6473, Fax: 515/984-9320
, Big_Creek@dnr.state.ia.us

Additional Information:
Central Iowa Travel Region -
Iowa State Parks -


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