Go on a dam tour, rent free kid packs or climb a 100ft tower at Lake Red Rock.

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Iowa’s largest lake is Lake Red Rock. It’s 10 minutes from Pella and 15 minutes from Knoxville. Park Ranger, Tracy Spry, offers insight into the lake, free kid packs, and super-simple water safety tactics. She also tells us how you can tour the inside of the dam and why tours changed after 9-11.

Spry discusses the difference between CO2 auto-inflating life jackets and foam life jackets, Lake Red Rock’s water safety mascot, a 100ft tower you can climb, and free science, bird, geocaching, tracking, and bug packs for kids. She also discussed how COVID actually created more first time campers.

Lake Red Rock is even more active during the summer. She said because Lake Red Rock is so large, after you launch your boat you will notice it’s fairly easy to find your own space. —

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Water Quality in Iowa

Spry also discussed their partnership with Iowa State University. Based on how much rainfall and runoff that can affect water quality, but the Army Corps of Engineers partnership allows them to keep a close eye. Some people often wonder why the lake looks so “dirty” but in fact, it’s just sedimentation (dirt) and plant matter. It’s not toxic or polluted. Dirty water isn’t “dirty.”

Lake Red Rock Power House

Before 2021 Lake Red Rock didn’t generate any power. But after 2021 that has changed. Currently, the Lake Red Rock dam power plant can generate 50 MegaWatts (MW) of power during operation. Because 1 MW can support 1,000 homes, the dam can power 50,000 homes when running at full capacity. The power plant is run by Missouri Energy River Services.

Tower at Lake Red Rock

Lake Red Rock has many activities for kids and adults, but don’t forget 100 ft tower water tower in North Elk rock state park. The tower is a retrofitted and remodeled water tower with an observation deck on top. A fiberglass stairway was added to accommodate guests, and you enter similar to a subway turnstile. The tower accepts quarters.

The Lake Red Rock Tower is a great place to go to watch the leaves change in the fall and has an incredible view. On a clear day, you can even see the downtown Des Moines skyline.The view is worth the trek, says Spry.