What comes to mind when you think about spending time on a lake in Iowa? Most Iowans probably think about Okoboji, Clear Lake, Saylorville, Coralville, or perhaps Lake Rathbun. But, of course, there are a many more options than those. Iowa doesn't quite have 10,000 lakes like Minnesota, but we certainly are not without our options for boating, skiing, tubing, swimming, fishing, and more.
One of those particular lakes is Lost Island Lake in Palo Alto County. Located, a few miles north of Ruthven, about 15 minutes west of Emmetsburg, and about a half hour from the Iowa Great Lakes, Lost Island is an approximately 1200 acre lake.
Over the Independence Day weekend, my cousin, oldest brother, and I spent some time checking out the sights and driving around the area.
As is the case around a lot of lakes, there are homes, campgrounds, and cabins surrounding it. Some of them appear to be seasonal though others are certainly permanent residences.
I was surprised not to see any restaurants or watering holes around the lake. I spotted a Pepsi sign for a "Electric Park" but did not actually find an establishment accompanying it.
However, there is an old-school convenience store / cafe nearby. Stopping in Lost Island Corner Store feels like you are headed back a few decades.
It's an authentic place that is cozy and clearly a place that locals have been frequenting for decades. The decor hasn't been refreshed in years - but that's part of the charm of it. There are a few groceries on the shelves, lots of books, some camping supplies, and a few convenience store type snacks (soda, chips, etc) too.
There were some old school Dolly Parton photos on the wall.
There is some minimal seating at a table or two, some booths, and on some bar stools. A small party of people were finishing lunch when we stopped in. Looking at their Facebook page photos will make you hungry.
In addition to the homes and campgrounds, I spotted a small, picturesque church.
There is a Lost Island Nature Center nearby. My group did not stop though I know that they offer a lot of educational programs and it is a popular spot for local school groups to visit.
The center is managed by the Palo Alto County Conservation Board. I will have to stop back in the future when I have more time to visit. It's a beautiful looking facility.
There are several boat access areas and I found a marina area on the south side of the lake where several people were storing their boats.
We found a beach area that offered some gorgeous views of the lake.
There's other conservation and wildlife areas in the area.
I also found what appears to be a bike or recreational trail.
This patriotic eagle sculpture next to someone's dock and it is quite eye catching.
It may be the Lost Island but there's a lot of natural beauty to be found. Not to mention, I am sure the families that have been living or visiting here for years find a great deal of relaxation and enjoyment here. Next time you are in the area, be sure to stop by and soak up a little sun - or maybe grab a cold soda and a piece of homemade pie at the Corner Store.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Palo Alto County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this website.