Big Creek Lake, Iowa, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Big Creek Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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All About Big Creek Lake

Lake Locations: USA - US Midwest Region - Iowa - Central Iowa -

Big Creek Lake is located about 11 miles north of Des Moines, Iowa near the town of Polk City. The lake was created in the 1970s by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Saylorville Project, a flood control project that also created nearby Saylorville Lake. The project originally called for flooding a portion of adjacent Polk City, including a historic cemetery, to create one large reservoir. Luckily, the revision of the project to include a second dam created both the 5,400 acre Saylorville Lake and the 883 acre Big Creek Lake, preserving Polk City and providing its residents with multiple opportunities for recreation.

Big Creek Lake offers some of the best fishing in central Iowa, especially for walleye. The lake is also home to bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and muskie. To maintain a healthy fish population, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources places a length restriction on catches of some game fish. Catches of walleye smaller than 15 inches, bass smaller than 18 inches, and muskie smaller than 40 inches must be released back into the lake, and walleye has a bag limit of three per day. Fishing is possible at the lake year-round, with ice fishing being a popular winter pastime.

Anglers and recreational boaters alike can access Big Creek Lake at one of the five paved boat ramps–three on the west side of the lake and two on the east side of the lake. A commercial marina also provides boat rentals ranging from pontoons to canoes. The lake has no horsepower or size restrictions, but boaters must operate at “no wake” speeds. Sailing is popular at Big Creek Lake, especially if water levels at the larger Saylorville Lake are too high. Sailboat rigging zones are conveniently located at all of Big Creek Lake’s boat launch areas.

The town of Polk City prides itself on being a “City for all Seasons,” and Big Creek Lake definitely offers year-round interest. The lake is bordered by Big Creek State Park, a 3,550 acre park and wildlife refuge. On a warm summer day the park is a popular destination, with picnic areas and a playground overlooking the water. A swim beach provides a perfect place to cool off when the weather is hot. The twenty-six mile paved Neal Smith Trail stretches south all the way to Des Moines and is ideal for jogging, cycling, and rollerblading. Cyclists can also take advantage of the Central Iowa Bike Route, a scenic ninety-one mile bike trail that connects Big Creek State Park to Ledges State Park and Springbrook State Park. In the winter, the trails become a haven for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Although Big Creek State Park is a wildlife refuge, hunting for waterfowl is allowed on Big Creek Lake itself, and there are designated locations around the lake where hunting is permitted and rabbit, pheasants, deer, and squirrel are plentiful. Camping is available at several campgrounds on nearby Saylorville Lake.

More than two million visitors a year travel to Big Creek Lake and its big cousin, Saylorville Lake in Polk City. Come see for yourself why this “City for all Seasons” has become such a popular vacation spot for so many.

Things to Do at Big Creek Lake

  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish Species Found at Big Creek Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Find Places to Stay at Big Creek Lake

If you’re considering a Big Creek Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Big Creek Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Big Creek Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Big Creek Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 883 acres

Shoreline Length: 21 miles

Average Depth: 18 feet

Maximum Depth: 53 feet

Water Volume: 14,573 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 74 sq. miles

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

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