An effort to establish the wooded valleys of Mill and Jordan Creeks as a state park was initiated by the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce and J.N. "Ding" Darling, a noted Iowa Conservationist. To raise funds to purchase additional land for the park, lots were sold in the area.
In June, 1937 the park opened to the public. The name for the park was selected from several hundred contest entries. Thomas Macbride had a distinguished 40-year career as professor of botany and president of the University of Iowa. He has been called the "father" of conservation in Iowa. In 1895 he addressed the members of the Iowa Academy of Science on the need to establish a statewide system of "country" or "rural" parks.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed a number of facilities at Lake Macbride in the 1930's including the beautiful stone shelter and beach building.
In 1955, the lake was enlarged. A portion of the park borders Coralville Lake, one of Iowa's largest artificial lakes, constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Facilities and Activities
Lake Macbride State Park is a great place for a family picnic or get-together. Four open picnic shelters are available and may be reserved online through the park reservation system. One day-use lodge is also available and great for family reunions. The main lodge may also be reserved online through the park reservation system.
Lake Macbride State Park has two campgrounds. The modern campground in the northern unit of the park includes electrical hookups and full hook ups, a shower and restroom, and a trailer dump station.
The non-modern campground in the southern park unit also has several campsites and a non-flush restroom. This campground is located in a beautiful shaded setting near the lake. Both campgrounds have a playground nearby. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. One fourth of the campsites are still available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Multi-use trails wind for miles around the lake. All park trails offer opportunities for the sights and sounds of Iowa at its best. Bird watchers will thrill to the sight of nearly every songbird native to the region. During the spring and fall, shorebirds, waterfowl and ospreys are frequent visitors. During winter months, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are popular.
Lake Macbride offers a five-mile scenic multi-use trail located along the lake from Solon to near the entrance to the park. This trail is very popular with bicyclists.
Volkssport Trails & Events. Six permanent Volkssport trails have been established for seasonal use within state parks and recreation areas.
Lake Activities (Swimming, boating, fishing)
Lake Macbride offers swimming as well as refreshments at the beautiful beach area. The Macbride beach is a great place for young and old to cool off on a hot summer day. Swimming is restricted to the designated beach area only.
Lake Macbride Boat Rentals, Inc. is open Memorial Day weekend thru Labor Day weekend; 7 days a week, 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM Monday - Friday and 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Saturdays and Sundays. Services include boat rentals (pontoons, pedal boats, kayaks, canoes, paddle boards), food concessions, bait and firewood. For more information please call 319-624-2315.
Lake Macbride is an angler's delight! Good catches of walleyes, channel catfish, crappies and muskie await the angler in the 812-acre artificial lake. Walleyes, channel catfish and muskies are stocked annually. Lake Macbride may be the only lake in Iowa in which the prized Kentucky spotted bass can be caught. Good lake access is available for both shoreline and boat fishing.
There are seven boat ramps on the lake and one on Coralville Lake. Pontoons, motorboats, canoes, paddle boats, and kayaks are available for rent near the beach. The boat rental number is 319/624-2315. Motorboats must not exceed 5 mph on Lake Macbride. A 10 hp motor limit is in effect on Lake Macbride from the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. At other times there is an unrestricted hp motor limit operated at no greater than 5 mph. Any size motor may be used on Coralville Lake. Pontoon docking spaces are available for rental, as are dry-storage spots for boats.
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