Rathbun Lake – Centerville, Iowa
Iowa is not known for its lakes but Rathbun Lake will help to put that thought in the background. Here you can go boating, fishing, swimming, hunt in the area, have a picnic or hike the trails around the lake. There are 55 square miles of land and water at Rathbun Lake. The lake area is 11,000 acres with an additional 23,000 acres of land around the lake.
The lake was formed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is managed by them. It provides flood protection for 149,300 acres of land along the Chariton River downstream from the dam.
There are six parks and 7 campgrounds around the lake where you can camp, swim or use the boat ramps. There are fish cleaning stations to make it easy for you to clean the fish you catch on your time on the lake. You can also enjoy a picnic and watch the waves come in from the lake.
The Chariton and South fork of the Chariton River are the major sources into Rathbun Lake. The basin runs generally from north to south. The lake averages about one mile in width and has 155 miles of shoreline.
There is a visitor center located at the southwest end of the dam to answer any questions you may have about the lake or the dam. The Visitor Center has an iWatch program to provide you with up to date information on the weather at the lake or around the nation. You will be able to see radar, storm watches and warnings, lightning predictor, precipitation/temperature forecasts and surface conditions.
You can make your campsite reservations at the Visitor Center. The hours of the center are 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.
Along with everything water based you can do at Rathbun Lake you can also watch the Bald eagles, white-tailed deer, Canada geese, wild turkey, crappie, walleye, channel catfish and other wildlife which can be found at Rathbun Lake.
There are seven campgrounds located around the lake. The Corps manages 5 of them, those being Buck Creek, Prairie Ridge, Bridge View, Island View, and Rolling Cove Parks. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources manages Honey Creek campground. A private concessionaire manages the South Fork and Buck Creek Marina campgrounds.
There is a user fee charged for camping so check with the Visitor Center for those rates. There are many campsites that contain electrical hookups, lantern hanging posts, picnic tables, and fire rings. There are shower buildings, sanitary dump stations, playgrounds and fish cleaning stations at most of the parks.
Entrance stations are located at most campgrounds and all campgrounds are patrolled routinely by Park rangers and the Appanoose County Sheriff’s Department.
Rathbun Project Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
20112 Hwy J5T
Centerville, IA 52544