Rathbun Lake Camping

notifications Text me when there's a cancellation at Rathbun Lake
Rathbun Lake - Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia
Rathbun Lake - Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia


Campgrounds in Rathbun Lake


Rathbun Lake

Buck Creek

Rathbun Lake

Island View

Rathbun Lake

Prairie Ridge

Rathbun Lake


A brief introduction to Rathbun Lake

Over 700 campsites are available at this 11,000-acre lake in the rolling hills of southern Iowa. Excellent camping, fishing, hunting, boating, state fish hatchery, and Honey Creek Resort, are major attractions.

Rathbun Lake was constructed and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Located at Chariton River mile marker 142, approximately 7 miles (11 km) north of Centerville, Iowa, in Appanoose County, it is one of the largest lakes in Iowa. The lake was constructed to control flooding, provide recreation opportunities, abate stream pollution, fish and wildlife enhancement, and maintain minimum stream flow on the Chariton, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers. The Chariton and South Fork of the Chariton River are the major sources of water flowing into Rathbun Lake.
The construction of Rathbun Dam and Reservoir was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1954 (Public Law 83-780). Construction of the dam and embankment began in September 1964. Most of the remains of the village of Griffinsville are underneath the lake. The dam itself is rolled earthfill construction and is 10,129 feet (3,087 m) long, 30 feet (9.1 m) wide at the top, and rises 100 feet (30 m) above the streambed. Operation as a multi-purpose unit began November 1969 and the top of multi-purpose pool (904 ft (276 m) msl) was reached on October 10, 1970. Rathbun Lake was dedicated July 31, 1971, with President Richard Nixon being the keynote speaker.
Camping, sightseeing, fishing, boating, picnicking and hunting are favorite activities on and near Rathbun Lake. The lake’s fish and wildlife resources provide sightseers, fishermen and hunters ample opportunities for their sports. Bald eagles, white-tailed deer, Canada geese, wild turkey, crappie, walleye, channel catfish and other wildlife can be found at Rathbun Lake. The size of the lake combined with the prevailing winds make Rathbun Lake one of the best sailing lakes in Iowa. One marina concession area, Rathbun Lake Marina (near the dam), provides a full line of marina services. Rathbun Lake is home to the Rathbun Yacht Club.

Eight parks have been developed for public recreation. Six are managed by the Corps of Engineers, and one state park is managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Recreation facilities include boat ramps, courtesy docks, campgrounds, picnic areas and playgrounds. Honey Creek State Park Resort opened in 2008 and is Iowa's first-ever state-run resort with more than a hundred guest rooms, an 18-hole golf course, and an indoor water park.
Rathbun Lake supplies the water treatment plant of Rathbun Regional Water Association (RRWA) which provides quality water to nearly 16,000 rural families, farms and communities in Iowa and Missouri. Average production at the plant during 2001 was 4.37 million US gallons (16.5 Ml) per day; however, the annual usage of the RRWA water system is equal to only 4 inches of Rathbun Lake water surface.
40°51′N 92°55′W

Read more about Rathbun Lake at Wikipedia

ARE Rathbun Lake campsites SOLD OUT?

We can help! Many campsite reservations are cancelled daily. Just tell us when you’d like to camp at Rathbun Lake, and how long you want to camp for. We’ll text you when a suitable spot opens up!

Scan for cancellations

Contact Rathbun Lake

Spotted an error?

Whoops! Sometimes we make mistakes. Want to help improve the Rathbun Lake listing? Please suggest a correction.

Other nearby parks

Open to camping at other nearby parks? Here are a few other parks you'll find in the vicinity.


Camper reviews for Rathbun Lake

Post a review for Rathbun Lake

Be the first to post a review of Rathbun Lake!

How was your visit to Rathbun Lake? Share your review of Rathbun Lake and help fellow nature-lovers make an informed decision.

Post a review
Please be nice. Around here, we try to be helpful, inclusive, and constructive.


View a map of Rathbun Lake


Get notified when a sold-out campground has availability

Tell us when, where, and how long you want to camp for. We’ll notify you (via SMS) when a suitable spot opens up at that campground—so you can nab that sold-out campsite reservation!

Create a scan