Lake Darling was dedicated in 1950 and named after J.N. “Ding” Darling, a champion of conservation and editorial cartoonist for the Des Moines Register. Through his efforts, the conservation movement was fostered in Iowa. A number of scenic picnic areas overlook the lake, two open picnic shelters are available for reservations abd a day-use lodge is reservable and is a popular place for reunions, parties and weddings.
Primitive and modern cabins are both available along with a large well-equipped campground featuring full hook-up (sewer/water/electric), electric and non-electric sites with modern shower and restroom facilities. The campground has a playground as well as a conveniently located dump station.
Hikers find plenty of opportunity with a 13.6 mile trail that encircles the entire lake and features successional woodlands and remnants of native prairie to a cemetery dating back to the 1800s. The trail is a combination of grass and crushed rock and is open to hikers, runners, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers.
The beach at Lake Darling is a fun spot for swimmers and sunbathers, power and non-power boats (no wake speeds). Peddle boats, canoes, and paddle boards are available for rent.
Lake Darling is an angler’s delight. Catfish and crappies are the most prevalent catch for most anglers. However, bullheads, bluegills, largemouth bass, and carp are also plentiful.