Lake Red Rock, Iowa, USA

Also known as:  Red Rock Lake, Red Rock Reservoir

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

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Looking for Lake Red Rock cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Lake Red Rock

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

Lake Red Rock is a reservoir in south-central Iowa created by the Army Corps of Engineers. This Marion County lake was constructed over the course of nine years in a massive damming project on the Des Moines River, at an estimated cost of $88 million. The Red Rock Dam measures 5,676 feet long and 110 feet high, and its construction provided flood control for an area that had seen several major floods in the past hundred years. Upon its completion in 1969, Lake Red Rock became the largest lake in Iowa and a popular destination for boating, fishing, and camping.

Boating and fishing are two of the most popular pastimes at Red Rock Lake. Several public boat ramps are located at various points around the lake, making boat access convenient for all. A commercial marina is also located at the lake. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy the lake’s large size and restriction-free motor boating, making it an ideal place for water skiing or just cruising the waves. Sailing is another favorite activity, and the local yacht club hosts races and regattas at Lake Red Rock all summer long. Anglers at Lake Red Rock can always be spotted in search of crappie and white bass. Many anglers also have good luck below Red Rock Dam in the Des Moines River, where walleye, channel catfish, flathead catfish, northern pike, and bluegill are all common.

Surrounding Lake Red Rock is a large expanse of public land, including parks, campgrounds, and recreation areas. The approximately 35,000 acres range from woodlands and wetlands to bluffs and beaches, providing habitats for a variety of plants and animals. Birdwatching is a favorite activity at the lake. Pelicans migrate through the area in spring and fall, and bald eagles can be found in large numbers in the winter, roosting in trees along the shoreline of the lake. Ducks, gulls, and herons can all be spotted at the lake, as well as shorebirds such as sandpipers and plovers. Perhaps the best way to experience nature at Red Rock Lake is with a hike–Elk Rock State Park offers 13 miles of nature trail to explore on foot, bike, or horseback. After a long hike, nothing beats a refreshing dip in the cool lake waters, and there are multiple public beaches available for a relaxing swim.

There is no shortage of options for camping at Red Rock Reservoir. The Army Corps of Engineers maintains five campgrounds at the lake, with a total of 432 campsites. The two largest, Howell Station Recreation Area and Whitebreast Recreation Area, both have boat ramps accessing the lake, and all of the campgrounds offer shower facilities and playgrounds. In addition, camping is available at Elk Rock State Park, which boasts boat access to the lake, picnic areas, and even an equestrian campground with horse stalls and a riding arena. Two county-run parks, Marion County Park and Roberts Creek Park, offer even more options for campers.

If you are looking for the ultimate outdoor adventure, Lake Red Rock offers everything under the sun. Fishing, swimming, camping, hiking–nature lovers have a multitude of ways to experience the great outdoors. Iowa’s biggest lake is sure to leave a big impression on all who visit.

Things to Do at Lake Red Rock

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish Species Found at Lake Red Rock

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Find Places to Stay at Lake Red Rock

If you’re considering a Lake Red Rock 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 Lake Red Rock Vacation

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

Lake Red Rock Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 15,520 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 742 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 782 feet

Water Volume: 209,960 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1969

Drainage Area: 12,323 sq. miles

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