Beed’s Lake is one of Iowa’s lesser-known parks but deserves a serious look. The park is not large (319 acres) and the lake is just 90 acres. But we have enjoyed the campground many times, along with the spectacular sunsets. The campground is on the southeast side of the lake, and in midsummer, the lakeshore offers a perfect view of those sunsets.
Like a little haunting with your camping? Beed’s Lake State Park, just west of Hampton, Iowa, comes complete with a ghost legend. Decades ago, a women and her three children drowned in the lake. Through the years, the story grew to include sightings of a woman in white walking on the lake about three o’clock in the morning, looking for her lost children.
The centerpiece of the park is the 170-foot wide Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) dam, built in the 1930s and said to be the most photographed dam in the Midwest. Limestone steps drop forty feet and create mesmerizing patterns of water, which vary depending on the flow from the lake. Access to the dam, or spillway, is just east of the campground. Visitors can follow steps down to the base of the dam for another view. The path crosses a small cement weir to steps leading up the other side.
Other facilities in the park include two picnic shelters and a beautiful stone and timber lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lodge was originally the bath house for the beach and has been remodeled to a rental facility with dining areas, a kitchen, and restrooms. Once when we were there, a local service club served a pancake breakfast there on Sunday morning. The park also has an active Friends’ group which promotes improving the park and lake quality with a Restoration Run in late August, a park cleanup, and fundraisers.
A two mile hiking path leads around the lake and includes the earthen causeway that crosses the lake. Bass, catfish, and panfish are available to challenge anglers. Several fishing jetties and docks are located on the south shore of the lake and are accessible to mobility impaired visitors.
Beed’s Lake is a popular boating spot due to its scenic beauty. Motors of any size may be used at “no wake” speeds on the lake. A modern boat ramp is located on the southern shore of the lake. There is a beach near the stone lodge but it is not always open for swimming.
The blacktop leading south from the park to Highway 3 connects with a bike path that riders can follow into and through Hampton. This county seat also offers a historical village at the fairgrounds, unique main street shops and cafes, and a public pool and water park. In early summer, one of the longest existing municipal bands in Iowa performs concerts in City Park across from the historic courthouse.
The campground contains 99 electric sites (50 amp), 43 non-electric sites, two shower houses new in the last five years, plus a sanitary dump station with fresh water. Four of the loops are great for groups because campers parallel park around the edge so that all doors face the grassy center area with trees, picnic tables, and fire pits. We were there in July with the Midwest Glampers and had most of one loop with about twenty vintage trailers. The setup was perfect for group activities and meals. There are also several pull-through sites and some back-ins with excellent views of the lake. Parking pads are gravel and most are fairly level. Some of the fire pits need work to prevent being surrounded by water after a heavy rain.
The shower houses are clean and each contain several individual shower compartments. My only complaint is that there are just two small hooks in each; most campgrounds could vastly improve the usability of the showers at minimal expense with three or four large hooks. Electric sites are $16 per night from May 1 to September 30 and $11 the rest of the year.
Information about the park can be viewed at
Beeds Lake State Park
1422 165th Street
Hampton, IA 50441
Questions or reservations can also be made by calling (641)456-2047
Review by Karen N..