Red Rock Lake is a popular boating, water sports, and fishing destination, and Iowa's largest lake. Formed by an Army Corps of Engineers dam on the Des Moines River, the 19,000-acre lake is surrounded by more than 50,000 acres of public land.
Motor boating, water skiing, and sailing are the lake's standard summer activities. Beaches along the lake provide easy access for swimming. Anglers fish for crappie, white bass, and walleye. Outfitters and guide services are offered in nearby towns.
The Corp of Engineers maintains several campgrounds, which have boat ramps and picnicking areas. There are 13 miles of horseback riding and mountain biking trails at Elk Rock State Park on the northern side of the lake. Equestrian campsites are also available.
Red Rock Lake is bald eagle territory. Each February the area celebrates Bald Eagle Day with shows and viewings near the Red Rock Dam and at Horn's Ferry Bridge. An eagle-eye view of the lake and the Des Moines River valley is possible from 106-feet tall Cordova Observation Tower.
The towns of Pella, to the east, and Knoxville, to the southwest, offer shops, restaurants, and attractions. Pella's rich Dutch heritage is evident throughout the city. Volkweg Trail, a paved, 14-mile, jogging, biking, hiking, in-line skating, and cross-country skiing path starts near Pella and follows the Des Moines River to the north end of the lake. Bos Landen, Iowa's top rated public golf course is also located in Pella. Knoxville is famous for its sprint car racing venues.
Red Rock Lake is 35 miles southeast of Des Moines. It is accessible via State Highways 14, 92, and 163. Cabins and campgrounds are available lakeside. In Pella and Knoxville there are several national hotel/motel chains and bed and breakfasts.