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Iowa Lakes and Rivers: Floating, Fishing, and Fun

Go for a swim. Relax on a boat. Drop a line to catch a big one or simply kick back and bliss out on the beach. Iowa’s refreshing rivers and magnificent lakes are the state’s most beloved playgrounds.

Subterranean springs provide clear blue water to West Okoboji Lake, making it the most popular body of water in the state. Clear Lake is another favorite for kayaking, fishing, and boating. It’s also home to quiet nature trails and the pristine Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Small yet charming, Blackhawk Lake hosts fireworks shows and summer carnivals. Fish all day on giant Rathbun Lake, and rent jet skis for the afternoon at Big Spirit Lake.

Inviting waterways mark the edges of Iowa and cut through its rolling prairielands. Iowa is the only state bordered by two navigable rivers: the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River on the west. Both offer endless fun on the water, from fishing to sightseeing cruises. With high canyons and bald eagles, the Upper Iowa River is a top choice for canoeing. For outstanding fishing, boat up the Maquoketa River, Racoon River, or Boone River.

Clear Lake

Located in the City of Clear Lake, Clear Lake is the center of recreation, tourism, and business for the city. Many businesses, parks, and restaurants are located on the banks of this large lake – in addition to the 20,000-acre Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Clear Lake, Iowa features a number of city and state parks like Pine Tree Park and Clear State Park, in addition to outdoor recreation on the beautiful lake that bears its name. Boating, fishing, kayaking, and many other water sports are popular on this wide expanse of water.

Crystal Lake Cave

Discovered in 1868, by lead miners, the Crystal Lake Cave is located in Dubuque. Sixty years later, Crystal Lake Cave was open for public enjoyment, by one of the original miners. It remains the longest "living" cave in Iowa. Schedule time for a 30 to 45 minute cave tour, to see the incredible cavern formations.

The soda straws, stalagmites, flowstone, anthodities, stalactites, ribbons and columns are quite impressive. Walk through this natural wonderland to really appreciate its beauty. Browse the Crystal Lake Cave gift shop to see the minerals, gems, and gift items available for purchase.