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Iowa State Parks

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USA Parks
Southwest Region
Lake of Three Fires State Park
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Lake of Three Fires State Park © Carl Nord
Lake of Three Fires State Park © Carl Nord
Lake of Three Fires State Park © Carl Nord
Lake of Three Fires State Park © Carl Nord
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2303 Highway 49
Bedford, Iowa   50833

Phone: 712-523-2700
Reservations: 712-523-2700
Email: park email button icon
Lake of Three Fires State Park is a serene 85-acre park located in Taylor County, Iowa. The park's main feature is the picturesque Lake of Three Fires, which spans approximately 85 acres and offers ample opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming.

Established on May 28th, 1935 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program to create jobs during the Great Depression era through projects like building parks across America; this state park encompasses around 691 acres total land area.
History of the Area
The Pottawattomi tribe, a large group of Native Americans known as the "Fire Nation," once roamed the prairies of southern Iowa. According to legend, two other tribes joined the Pottawattomi to form a loose confederacy known as "Three Fires." It is believed the three tribes held a great council meeting to join forces for protection against invading tribes. Runners were sent to wandering Indian nations to tell of the great rendezvous. Smoke from three fires signaled the exact location. The fires were built atop the highest hills so smoke could be seen from any direction. One such point overlooked the valley now covered by the waters of Lake of Three Fires. Three fires were kept burning as long as the three tribes joined together. If any of the fires went out it meant the tribes had left the area to continue on their own. Lake of Three Fires State Park was dedicated in 1935.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
 Bridle Trailsyes
BoatingLaunch Rampsyes
 Electric Sitesyes
 Full Hookup Sitesyes
Lake of Three Fires is a fine place for a family vacation at an economical cost! The modern cabins will comfortably accommodate four persons each. They are heated, cooled, and equipped with a refrigerator, microwave and cooktop stove. Renters must provide bedding, towels, cooking and eating utensils. The cabins can be reserved for a fee through the Internet at or by calling toll-free 1-877-IAPARKS. For more background information on the the park reservation system click here. Showers may be taken in the nearby camp areas.
Two modern campgrounds located a short distance from the lake provide 140 campsites (30 with electrical hookups), restroom, shower facilities and a trailer dump station. Starting February 13, 2006 advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. Half of the campsites are still available for self-registration on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There is also an equestrian campground that provides 22 camp sites, 8 with electrical hookups. In addition, there are 15 holding pens.
1. Lake of Three Fires State Park offers a designated swimming beach for visitors.
2. The sandy beach is well-maintained and perfect for sunbathing or building sandcastles.
3. Lifeguards are not provided, so swimmers should exercise caution when in the water.
4. Swimming outside the marked area on this 85-acre lake isn't recommended due to boating activities.
5. Restrooms and changing facilities near the swim area provide convenience after your dip in the lake.

The park offers a variety of boating options for visitors. There is an accessible boat ramp available, making it easy to launch boats into the water. Motorized and non-motorized vessels are allowed on the lake, providing opportunities for activities like fishing or leisurely rides around the waterscape. However, there's no rental service provided within this area so guests must bring their own equipment.
The park's 85-acre lake offers ample fishing opportunities. Anglers can catch largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill here. There are also accessible docks for easy casting. Ice fishing is popular during winter months when conditions allow it.

Lake of Three Fires State Park is

A large picnic area with tables and grills is nestled under trees close to the lakeshore. Two open picnic shelters may be reserved for a fee through the park office. One shelter has electricity, tables and running water. There is a playground nearby.

A renovated lodge near the beach can be rented for a fee on a reservation basis for day use only.
The park contains eight miles of marked trails for hikers, horseback riders and snowmobiles. Lake of Three Fires is one of southwest Iowa's most scenic parks and the trails provide great opportunities to experience its beauty year round.
In this Iowa gem, biking enthusiasts can explore 7 miles of multi-use trails. Be aware these are shared with hikers.

The terrain varies from flat to moderately steep hills, requiring a certain level of fitness and skill.

For safety reasons, it's recommended that cyclists wear helmets at all times while on the park's paths.

Night riding is not advised due to limited visibility; always plan your rides during daylight hours for maximum security.

During winter months or after heavy rainfall, some routes may be closed off - check local updates before setting out.

Remember: respect nature by staying on marked tracks only - don't venture into unmarked areas as they could pose risks.

Lastly but importantly: carry water and snacks along because there aren't many food options available within the park boundaries.
Birdwatchers can enjoy spotting various species including warblers, vireos and woodpeckers. The park's diverse habitats attract a wide range of birds throughout the year. There are several trails ideal for birding excursions, with opportunities to see waterfowl near the lake area as well.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
October 7 Great Fishing and hunting
park review stars; one to five A friend of mine and I went fishing on the lake and had very good luck. We stayed 4 nights. The Park Ranger was an excellent source of information about where to fish and what bait to use. He was very friendly and accommodating. We also wanted to do a little squirrel hunting and he directed us to a nearby open area and recommended a likely spot. Again we had good luck. Having the Park Ranger as a resource at Three Fires Lake made the trip for us.
August 2 A wonderful place for Equestrians~ by HHmplace
park review stars; one to five Beautiful trails, wide & well maintained. Good Corrals & a beautiful campground.
June 16 My time as a kid by jgwatson
park review stars; one to five my parents and me and sis went here at the time for camping. I now this park like be back of my hand. Always had the best time. Will be coming back with my kids.
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Nearby Hotels

- Reach Bedford, a city located in Taylor County, southwest of Des Moines.
- From Bedford's center: head north on State Highway 148 for approximately 5 miles.
- Turn right onto Holaday Street and continue eastward about half a mile until reaching Lake Road/County Hwy J20.
- Make another right turn to follow this road southwards around one mile directly into the park.

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Iowa State Parks