We had big fun at Big Creek Lake yesterday! Even though it rained, we didn’t let it dampen our day. Located just north of Polk City with over 770 acres, this scenic lake offers plenty of water fun for the whole family. You can build sand castles or play sand volleyball on the beach, kayak or rent a pontoon. Read on for a few tips for a family fun day at Big Creek Lake.
Know Before You Go
- Hours of Operation: Shelters are available 8:00 am – 10:30 pm. Big Creek Marina is open seasonally; 8:00 am – 7:00 pm Monday through Friday and 7:00 am – 7:00 pm Weekends & Holidays
- Cost of Admission: FREE.
- Parking: FREE
- Food: Bring along a picnic, outside food is allowed. There’s also concessions available at Big Creek Marina.
- Restrooms: There are two large restrooms with multiple stalls located near the beach.
- Prior to your visit check out Big Creek State Park’s webpage to learn more about the park’s amenities.
While You’re There
We love the water and enjoy visiting local lakes each summer. The kids can play in the sand, swim, enjoy their floaties (which aren’t allowed at most pools any more) and picnic. It’s an enjoyable and affordable outing for us. It’s also great for families or play dates who are entertaining kids of varying ages. Younger kids will like that the lake has a “zero-entry”, so they can wade in and out on their own. Older kids will enjoy the number of activity options.
Although, there weren’t many people at the lake yesterday the beach is large enough to hold a crowd. Also, there are no lifeguards on duty at Big Creek Lake, so you will need to keep a close eye on your kiddos when they’re in the water. There are many large picnic shelters located behind the beach and several smaller shelters line the beach. This was a great place to park our stuff and keep it dry on a drizzly day.
On our way to Big Creek we stopped off at Tar-Jay, just off of Highway 141, for a few supplies. We picked up some floaties, snacks and drinks. Once we unloaded the car and set up camp, the kids hit the beach to build a sand castle. This was one of my daughter’s main agenda items for the day, so she packed a couple of buckets, a shovel and a small hand rake. Just about the time we were starting to get a decent base formed on the castle it started to rain a bit harder, so we retreated to the shelter for a picnic lunch.
Luckily, after we ate the rain stopped and the sun even tried shining for a bit. This was a great time to break out the inflatables, for what I thought would be some nice relaxing float time. My kids had another idea. They laughed, hooted and hollered trying to race and knock each other off of their floaties. We also enjoyed watching some teens play beach volleyball and a few kayakers paddle by.
After being in the water for a while the kids decided to take a little break from the water. This was a great opportunity to burn off more energy on the amazing playground located right next to the beach. It looks like a rustic old fort and the kids quickly created an obstacle course/”wipe-out” type challenge game for themselves. The playground area was pretty packed. There was a daycare center there with about 20 kids in addition to the several others running around. On a sunnier day, I’m sure more of the people would have been on the beach.
After playing awhile, we wandered over to Big Creek Marina, I wanted to see what they had for rent and check out the prices. While we were in there the kids talked me into renting a paddle boat. So, back to the wallet for money and an ID. We had some communication issues, because the kids thought we were getting paddle boards.;)
All three of us fit on the paddle boat. It was a great work out for me, as I paddled on my side for the whole time we were out on the water! The kids took turns peddling in the other seat and my son wanted to do the “driving”. Basically, moving a joy stick back and forth. We toured one side of the lake and saw geese and several fish jump. After about 45 minutes on the water it started to rain pretty hard, so we headed back to the marina.
At this point we were pretty much worn out and ready to go. We packed up all of our stuff and headed south. Just in time too as it started to down pour. Even though it rained, we all had a fun time. My daughter kept saying it was the best day ever (she says that a lot:) and even my son kept remarking about what a great time it was. Big Creek was a fun family outing for us and if you’re looking for a break from the pool this summer, I would highly recommend it.
What to Bring To the Beach
- Picnic, Snacks & Drinks
- Sun Screen
- Bug Spray
- Beach Towels
- Sandals or Flip Flops
- Beach Chairs
- Beach Ball or Football
- Sand Toys (bucket, shovel, etc.)
Big Creek Marina Boat Rentals
- Canoes and Paddle Boats
- Craigcat Electric Boat
- Hydro Bikes
- Fishing Boats
- Pontoon Boats
- Stand Up Paddle Boards
All rentals include gas, life jackets and oars.
Big Creek State Park
8794 NW 125th Ave
Polk City, IA 50226
Phone: (515) 984-6473
Have you been to Big Creek Lake? Share your tips for a fun day at the beach in the Comment section below.