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Old 08-12-2014, 01:31 PM
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Iowa Lakes (Central or Southern) opinions... Considering a move

My wife and I are considering a move to Iowa, we are originally from the midwest. We just relocated to NC but thinks are looking like we will be headed back to the midwest. I love NC lakes as they have plenty of places that boats can disappear into fingers and channels where the water is glass even on holiday weekends. With that said, tell me about the lakes in Iowa. Any place that is recommended to be checked out. We are both wakeboarders, but in the future we will invest in either a houseboat or lake property.

I have been on Saylorville Lake and its nothing more than a big hole in the water with no coves or fingers. It reminds me of the lakes in Colorado. Unfortunately only half of the lake is usable as the other half runs way to shallow.

Any knowledge on Red Rock Lake or Rathbun Lake? Are they large enough to find places that are narrow and long yet waves wash out? Are the whole lakes boat-able (unlike Saylorville). Do the marinas have covered slips with a houseboating culture?

Any other lakes you would recommend looking at?
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Old 08-12-2014, 02:30 PM
bcd bcd is offline
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Okoboji is a big one towards the western part of the state. I've never been there so can't comment much on it. I've heard of a lot of people vacationing there, so it must be decent.

Coralville Lake is right next to Iowa City, which in my opinion, is a great small city. Coralville can get a little crowded on the weekends.

Lake Delhi is getting pretty far east in the state. Technically, it won't be a lake again until next year. They are rebuilding the dam and spillway that washed out 4-5 years ago and turned it back into a river. It's a smaller fairly private lake.

Other than that, there's the Mississippi River on the east side, which is what I'm most familiar with. You can usually find really good water, but the brown water and mud make it tough to keep the boat looking nice.

If you end up in Southern Iowa, Mark Twain Lake (Hannibal, MO) is pretty nice from what I remember.
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Old 08-13-2014, 02:18 PM
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The area that we would possibly be moving to is Ankeny, just a few miles north of Des Moines.

Any lakes that have some cabins or developments on them, but not as developed as the crazy lake of the ozarks?
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Old 08-13-2014, 10:37 PM
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Saylorville is a dump. We only go there on weekdays when no one is out. The best place near by is lake rathbun. That is where we camp on weekends. The lake is very big and has numerous coves and channels for wakeboarding. It's about 1.5 hr drive from ankeny and is totally worth the drive. There are lots of houses and condos for sale around rathbun but none right on the lake edge.
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Old 08-13-2014, 11:40 PM
uplander uplander is offline
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Not much around Ankeny, there are a few private lakes like Panorama and Sun Valley that are big enough to wakeboard. Saylorville would be the closest lake for you.

Rathbun is nice but you have the 1.5 hr tow.
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:44 AM
jschildm jschildm is online now
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I spend 99 percent of my time on Rathbun. It is a good sized like, the main marina has covered slips and houseboats. There is another marina on a different part of the lake that also has covered slips, and some big cruisers, but I am not sure on any houseboats. There are quite a few coves big enough to ski/wakeboard, but they do get busy on weekend afternoons, not awful though, like some lakes. I am pretty picky about my water and skied in one at 2 o'clock in the afternoon this last saturday. There aren't really any developments or lakehouses right on the lake, but there are plenty of places nearby.

I have only been to Red Rock once. Its also a good sized lake that has some fingers and coves in it. It seems busier to me, I am guessing because its closer to Des Moines, so a lot of Des Moines folks go there.

There aren't going to be the fingers and coves on the local lakes like you are lucky enough to have now, but I really like Rathbun, which has enough of those for skiing, floating out of the way, etc.

A couple other places to consider would be Lake Sundown or Lake Thunderhead (MO). They are both smaller private lakes that you have to own property on/around to use them, but are big enough for skiing/wakeboarding. I haven't been on either one though.
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Old 08-14-2014, 12:12 PM
Turnandburn Turnandburn is offline
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I live on the east coast of Iowa, i.e. Bettendorf which is part of the Quad Cities. Don't tell anyone, but skiing on the Mississippi River in the early morning is sublime! I keep my PS 197 on a boat lift in a local marina, which makes for easy early morning access to SAG conditions. No matter where you are located in the Midwest, the biggest impediment to good conditions for water skiing of late is the occurrence of more frequent heavy rainfalls which have caused high water to exist into the summer months. The river is not friendly to my boat during the day because waves from wind, other boats and towboats will swamp the bow of my boat. Hence, I'm an early morning riser during ski season. Welcome to Iowa!
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Old Yesterday, 02:19 PM
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I want to thank everyone for the input. I dont mind the 1.5 hr haul to Rathbun if in the future I talk my wife into a houseboat/cruiser to stay on. Ill keep in mind the other options as well. Any more info on Red Rock? Is the Des Moines river boatable or does it all run too shallow. I grew up running a river in Illinois that not many people boated because they thought it was too shallow, but it was really like an endless ski lake only 6-8 feet deep. Mississippi is great from what I hear too, just too far.
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