Lake Darling State Park was dedicated on September 17, 1950. J. N. "Ding" Darling, for whom the park was named, "set the gate," a ceremony in which an honored guest closes the valve on the spillway, completing the impoundment process. Ding Darling was the editorial cartoonist of the Des Moines Register and was a champion of conservation during the early part of this century. Through his efforts, the conservation movement was fostered in Iowa. In recognition of his contributions, Lake Darling State Park was named in his honor.
Lake Darling State Park is 1,417 acres in size, including a beautiful 302-acre lake with almost 18 miles of shoreline. The park, with its beautiful wooded hills and valleys and lovely lake, offers something for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, young and old.
Lake Darling State Park is a great place for a family cookout. A number of scenic picnic areas overlook the lake. An Open Picnic Shelter is available for use and may be reserved for a fee through the park manager.
Camping cabins may be reserved for a fee for overnight stays. The cabins sleep four and are equipped with a bunk bed, futon, and table with chairs. It is located only a short distance from the modern rest room and shower building in the campground. Cabins may be reserved by calling the park office at 319/694-2323.
Lake Darling has a large and well equipped campground. A total of 118 campsites are present, 81 with electrical hookups. The campground has 2 modern rest room buildings, as well as a conveniently located trailer dumping station Camping permits are obtained through self-registration at the campground. Camping Fees can be paid at the site. There is playground equipment in the campground.
Lake Activities (swimming, boating, fishing)
The beach at Lake Darling is a fun spot for swimmers and sunbathers, young and old. A concession building is present where refreshments are available.
Lake Darling is a popular boating lake for both power and non-power boats. The concession offers boat rental opportunities. Any size motor may be operated on Lake Darling at "no wake" speeds.
Lake Darling is an angler's delight. Catfish and crappies are probably the most prevalent catch for most anglers. However, bullheads, bluegills, largemouth bass, carp, and tiger muskies are also plentiful.
Hikers will find plenty of opportunity at Lake Darling State Park. Several trails are present and hikers will see a variety of plant, animal and bird species. One of the trails extends through a re-established prairie and another winds through heavily wooded timber to a cemetery dating back to the 1800s.
Brighton is 3 miles east of the park, Richland is 5 miles west, Washington is 14 miles northeast on Highway 1, and Fairfield is 17 miles southwest on Highway 34. These communities offer a variety of shopping, dining and church opportunities.