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Big Hollow Recreation Area

Big Hollow LakeBig Hollow Recreation Area is Des Moines County's premiere outdoor recreation destination. This 798 acre recreation area offers year-round recreational opportunities for families wanting to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

The 178 acre lake complete with a beach, boat ramp and multiple fishing jetties offers ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with the family on or near the water. 

Outdoor recreation activities available at Big Hollow include:Canoeing

  • camping (including a rental cabin)
  • hunting & fishing
  • canoeing/kayaking
  • boating
  • hiking
  • swimming
  • and much more
Big Hollow is conveniently located ten miles north of Burlington. Get there by taking Pleasant Grove Rd. west three miles off of Highway 61 then turning south on 152nd Ave. and go one mile to the park entrance.
Use the Map It! link for an interactive GIS-based map of the park. 

Download the Big Hollow Recreation Area Map (PDF).

Park & Campground DevelopmentFundraising Campaign
Big Hollow is still undergoing development. Plans for the area include the construction of a shower house and dump station at the RV campground, four lakefront rental cabins featuring wireless internet, indoor plumbing, & electricity and a concession stand at or near the beach. The continued development of Big Hollow will only progress as funding allows. Since most of the funding for the project must come from grants and private donations, YOU can help make the planned developments a reality.

Download the 2016 Big Hollow Fundraising Campaign (PDF)

Find out how to donate.
Big Hollow offers 48 campsites within the park, each only a short distancecamping from the lake. The 32 sites within the RV campground offer oversized gravel pads large enough to accommodate the largest campers on the market. Ample space between each site allows for privacy and solitude while enjoying the park.

About half of the RV sites are reservable. Reservations can be made here. The other half of the RV sites and all of the primitive sites are first come, first served. A volunteer campground host is usually present during the summer months to offer assistance and Park Rangers make regular rounds through the park.

Firewood is available for purchase at the registration area or through the campground host in the RV campground. To prevent the spread of invasive species, Des Moines County Conservation does not allow any outside firewood to be brought in to any of its parks.

RV CampgroundRV campground
There are 32 electric sites within the RV campground. Each site offers ample room for a camper, truck and extra vehicle or boat trailer. Nearby overflow parking areas accommodate additional vehicles for family members or guests. A central water station (on from April 1 through October 31 annually) provides campers a place to fill their water tanks upon arrival. The wastewater system will be functional in July 2017, making all 32 sites full hook-up.

The nightly rate for sites is $20 for a walk-up site, $25 for a reserved site.

Primitive Campground
For those wanting to "rough it" a little more, 16 primitive campsites are carved right into the mature oak-hickory forest at Big Hollow. Ample space between the sites helps maintain the solitude of each site. For those really wanting to get away from it all, some sites can only be reached via a short hike down an access trail.

The nightly rate for a non-electric (primitive) site is $10.
"Off-Grid" CabinCabin
Big Hollow offers a two bedroom "off-grid" cabin for public rental between April 1 and October 31 each year. Though the cabin is not connected to the electric grid, a solar panel connected to a battery generates enough juice to power overhead LED lights after dark. Drinking water must be carried in during a stay there but there's a hydrant not far away for refills as needed.

The cabin features an open living/dining room area and covered porch. One bedroom offers a queen size bed and one offers two double beds. The living area has a couch, a coffee table, a four-person dining table with chairs, and a concrete countertop in one corner. A portable restroom, campfire ring, upright charcoal grill, picnic table, sitting benches, and serving station are provided outside. The serving station has a concrete countertop, sink and a cistern pump connected to a rain barrel for non-potable water needs.

The cabin is designed to sleep 5 people; maximum capacity is 10. The rental rate for the cabin is $40/night; two night minimum. More information and online reservation instructions can be found on the Off Grid Cabin page.


Only a few years ago, the area that is now the lake was forest and trails; Crappietoday, most of the trees still stand, their canopies rising above the water, making the lake a fish and wildlife haven like no other around. The lake features excellent bluegill, crappie, channel cat, and bass fishing opportunity either by boat or from the shore.

Download a topographic map of the lake with GPS locations of fish structures (PDF)

For anglers looking for a quieter setting, Big Hollow Recreation Area offers numerous other small ponds within its borders, all of which offer great fishing opportunities throughout the year.
Fishing Tournaments
If you are planning a fishing event at Big Hollow, you must apply for a permit with the DNR. We also require that groups contact the DMCC Administration Office at (319) 753-8260 so that scheduling conflicts may be avoided.

Big Hollow is open to public hunting and features quality deer, turkey, upland and small game hunting. The open lands are actively managed for upland game and the diversity of forest types on the property offer a variety of habitats for various woodland species. The extensive trail system throughout the area gives hunters access to parts far from main roads.
Youth shootingBig Hollow Recreation Area is home to a 25, 50, 100, and 300 meter outdoor shooting range. Each of the ranges have a ten person covered firing line with wood and concrete benches. Membership is required to use the range and may be obtained by simply attending a short safety course offered several times throughout the year by DMCC staff.

During the summer, the Flint River Bowhunters Club maintains a 3-D Archery course just outside the shooting range. Public shoots are hosted there once a month. Visit their website for more information.

Hiking & Trails
Big Hollow offers more than 10 miles of trails to explore, some of which are equestrian accessible. Big Hollow also serves as the north terminal point of the multi-use Flint River Trail.

Download Big Hollow Trail Map (PDF) or launch the GIS-based mapping application to find out more about the trails at Big Hollow.

Other Park AmenitiesSee the stars
Observatory: From spring through fall, the Witte Observatory near the park's entrance hosts public viewings the first and third Fridays of every month. The Observatory is operated by the Southeast Iowa Astronomy Club through a cooperative agreement with Des Moines County Conservation.

Model Airplane Field: Model airplaneThe Burlington Model Airplane Club maintains the Polson Flying Field at Big Hollow for use by radio controlled airplane enthusiasts who are members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. Find out more by visiting the club's website.

History: Find out more about the unique History of the Big Hollow Valley.


Des Moines County Conservation
Des Moines County Conservation
Main Office
13700 Washington Rd.
West Burlington, IA 52655

Ph: (319) 753-8260

Big Hollow
Big Hollow Maintenance Shops

18829 Ranger Lane
Sperry, Iowa 52650

Ph: (319) 985-2502
Park physical address
18853 152nd Ave.
Sperry, IA 52650

  1. Park hours are 6 am - 10:30 pm
  2. Camping permitted in designated areas only 
  3. No motor vehicles allowed on trails
  4. Pets must be on leash
  5. Horseback riding is permitted on designated trails only when conditions are such that no damage will be done to the trail surface
  6. Fires in grills and fire rings only
  7. Do not pick, cut, or destroy vegetation
  8. Public hunting is permitted following all state laws governing public lands 
  9. Permit required to use the Big Hollow Shooting Range
  10. All boats must operate at no wake on the lake. There are no motor size restrictions
  11. Report all accidents to a park ranger or County Conservation office (319) 753-8260

  1. No alcohol on beach or in parking lot
  2. No littering
  3. No pets on beach
  4. No fires
  5. No swimming beyond buoys
  6. No glass containers
  7. No lifeguard on duty
  8. Beach Hours: 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.


Des Moines County Conservation: 319-753-8260

Des Moines County Sheriff Department: 319-753-8366

Full DMCC Rules
Facility Refund Policy