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Silver Lake, a natural glacial lake spanning 1,041 acres, is located in northwestern Iowa bordering the town of Lake Park. It is one of the chain of lakes known as Iowa's Great Lakes. This multiple-lake area is a favorite vacation destination, offering numerous outdoor recreational activities. Although it is not the largest of Iowa's Great Lakes, Silver Lake offers a scenic location for fishing, boating, camping, and nature watching.
Although anglers often overlook Silver Lake in favor of the larger lakes nearby, Silver Lake offers excellent fishing for walleye. Other fish found in the lake include northern pike, crappie, yellow perch, and bullhead. Ice fishing is popular in the winter months, making Silver Lake ideal for anglers year-round. There is plentiful boat access, with a total of three hard surface boat ramps, and the two adjacent parks offer space for fishing from shore or from docks. Because there are no motor restrictions on the lake, Silver Lake is also a prime spot for recreational boating, and boats ranging from canoes to sailboats to powerboats can all be spotted enjoying the lake's waters.
Two parks on the shores of Silver Lake offer multiple options for picnicking and playing. Silver Lake City Park, on the east shore of the lake, has plenty of picnic tables, a playground, baseball and football fields, and courts for tennis, basketball, and sand volleyball. The park's swimming pool is a perfect place to cool off when the weather is hot. The park even has an historic attraction: Knox Cabin, originally built in 1869 on the north shore of Silver Lake and the first home to be built in what is now Lake Park. The cabin is furnished with items that would have been used in the late 1800s. Trappers Bay State Park, on the north side of Silver Lake, is also an ideal spot for a picnic lunch, with covered and uncovered picnic tables available and scenic views of the lake.
Camping is conveniently available just steps from the lake's shore. Silver Lake City Campground, on the eastern side of the lake, boasts room for both RVs and tents, electrical hook-ups, an RV dump station, and modern showers and restrooms. Campers here can take advantage of the amenities available at the nearby city park, including a playground, picnic areas, and a swimming pool. More basic accommodations are available at the South Shore Campground at the southern end of Silver Lake. This campground has a tent area, RV hook-ups, a picnic area, and primitive restrooms.
Nature lovers will find plenty to do on the shores of Silver Lake. Several wildlife management areas border the lake, including Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area, Cory Marsh State Game Management Area, and Dugout Creek Wildlife Management Area. Hunting is available in many areas, and the terrain ranges from wetlands and marshlands to forests. A unique feature of the area is Silver Lake Fen State Preserve. (Fens are wetlands fed from groundwater rich in calcium and magnesium.) Located on the southwestern shores of the lake, this unusual area was formed by glacial activity and groundwater sources that created a thick layer of peat. This preserve is home to some of Iowa's rarest plants, including four species of orchids, as well as several types of birds and butterflies. When the weather turns cold, locals head outside to enjoy the miles of snowmobile trail connecting Lake Park to nearby towns.
If you are planning a visit to Iowa's Great Lakes, don't overlook Silver Lake. This little lake and its adjoining community give visitors plenty of options for enjoying nature in a small-town setting.
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