Lake Macbride, Iowa, USA

One of east central Iowa’s best recreation lakes is Lake Macbride. Construction of the lake was first recommended in 1932, with the project adopted by the State Conservation Board. A $50,000 federal grant was secured to pay for the dam, with labor provided by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The State Conservation Board aided in development of what became Lake Macbride State Park, with the land donated to the state once – READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Macbride! Article topics include:

Looking for Lake Macbride cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Macbride! Article topics include:

Looking for Lake Macbride cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

All About Lake Macbride

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Iowa - East Central -

One of east central Iowa’s best recreation lakes is Lake Macbride. Construction of the lake was first recommended in 1932, with the project adopted by the State Conservation Board. A $50,000 federal grant was secured to pay for the dam, with labor provided by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The State Conservation Board aided in development of what became Lake Macbride State Park, with the land donated to the state once it was completed. The new 200-acre lake opened in 1937.

The building of the Coralville Dam and Reservoir in the late 1950s for flood control along the nearby Iowa River forever changed Lake Macbride. Originally, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) plan called for making Lake Macbride a part of larger Coralville Lake, but the State of Iowa wasn’t in favor of losing their lake and park. It was necessary to raise the height of the Lake Macbride Dam to keep the two lakes separated. In doing so, the USACE raised the lake level by 28 feet, enlarged Lake Macbride to 812 acres, and reconfigured the popular state park to accommodate the new shoreline. The USACE purchased the additional land to expand the lake and donated the surrounding acreage to the state. Most of the shoreline of the new, larger lake is part of the state park. The new lake was full by early 1960.

Lake Macbride offers a full complement of water-based activities along its two long ‘arms’. The 2,180-acre Lake Macbride State Park provides a swimming beach, picnic areas, playgrounds, two camping areas and seven boat launch locations. Picnic shelters are located around the park, some built by the Civilian Conservation Corps before the original park opened. A boat rental concession rents pontoons, motorized boats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboats to visitors. The park is divided into two units. The North Unit on the Mill Creek arm has the beach, modern campsites, boat launch, boat rental and park office. The South Unit along the Jordan Creek arm has a primitive campground with fewer amenities, boat ramp, picnic areas and a Frisbee Golf course. A Day Use Lodge is available by reservation for group events, as is a group camping area.

Sailing has long been a favorite at Lake Macbride. Several sailboat shelters can be reserved along the shoreline, with restrooms nearby. The University of Iowa Sailing Club has called Lake Macbride home since 1961. The club’s facilities and docks are located within the University of Iowa’s Macbride Nature and Recreation Area along the south arm of the lake. The lake has a 10-horsepower speed limit, making it pleasant for non-motorized craft to maneuver the water safely. The pontoon rental facilities are also immensely popular, and dry storage space can be rented for privately-owned sailboats and pontoons. Lake Macbride is separated from Coralville Lake only by the dam and a narrow spit of land, so the park also adjoins the neighboring reservoir. A boat ramp accommodates those wishing to boat Coralville Reservoir.

Fishing is always a big part of the action on Lake Macbride. Channel catfish, muskie and walleye are stocked annually. Crappie and bluegill are abundant, and this is likely the only Iowa lake where the Kentucky spotted bass may take the bait. A stocking program several years ago planted the prized fish, and they are reproducing naturally. With seven boat launch sites, there is never a problem with access. Proper fishing licenses must be obtained and all regulations followed. The lake regularly gains enough ice for ice fishing in the winter months, but because there are sometime winter draw-downs for construction purposes, it is best to check for warnings on the Lake Macbride State Park website before venturing onto the ice.

The Macbride Nature and Recreation Area holds a third small campground amid its many nature trails. Over 10 miles of trails within the Nature Center focus on the flora and songbirds native to the area. A hummingbird garden, birdwatching blind and prairie exhibit make a visit to the Nature Center enjoyable for all ages. Affiliated with the Nature and Recreation Area, the Raptor Center rehabilitates injured birds of prey, which are generally released once they are in good condition. Picnic areas and the University’s programs for children-a Day Camp and Macbride Wildlife Camp-are also included. Two competition archery ranges are located near the entrance. The Lake Macbride State Park Trail along the south side can also be accessed from the Recreation Area.

Seventeen miles of trails are located in Lake Macbride State Park. The trails are popular year round, with cross-country skiers and snowmobilers enjoying the trails in winter. A five-mile trail leads from the park entrance along the lake to Solon. The limestone-surfaced trail is very popular with cyclists and walkers. A mile-and-a-half pedestrian trail facilitates travel between the beach and the dam. The popular trail system makes Lake Macbride State Park an easy-access jogging and hiking destination from the nearby towns. Iowa City is less than 25 miles away-an easy drive on a hot summer day.

Those not interested in camping will find plenty of other activities nearby. Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, and this college town has a full complement of cultural and entertainment venues. The Iowa Avenue Literary Walk features a series of bronze insets containing the words of famed authors with a connection to Iowa. An annual Jazz Festival, arts festival, free concerts and summer outdoor movies mean there is usually some special event. Nearby, the famous Devonian Fossil Gorge with its thousands of fossils embedded in limestone will delight children and adults alike. Long known for its fossilized past, and the reason Coralville received its name, Devonian Fossil Gorge was discovered in 1993 when flood waters eroded the surface. The newly-exposed gorge revealed a huge collection of 375 million year old fossils of sea creatures-inhabitants of the shallow sea that once covered much of the Midwest.

Iowa City, Coralville and the surrounding areas hold plenty of lodgings, with facilities such as hotels, inns, bed & breakfasts and guest cottages. Private rentals may be found near the shore of Lake Macbride, with an occasional property on the lakefront offered for short-term rental. Real estate is sometimes found for sale at the lake, with other offerings in the nearby area. The area holds a number of commercial campgrounds and RV parks, with restaurants, cafes and shopping galore in historic downtown Iowa City. So, come wet a line or dip a paddle in Lake MacBride.

Things to Do at Lake Macbride

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish Species Found at Lake Macbride

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Spotted Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

All About Lake Macbride

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Macbride

The Lake Macbride map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.


More Ways to Book a Lake Macbride Vacation

While our interactive map above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME rental homes (with VRBO) and nearby hotels (with Booking.com), there might be times when you need to expand your search with a different type of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you might want to explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our full disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Lake Macbride Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Lake Macbride Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Macbride Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Macbride lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
ALL TRAVEL RESOURCES

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources

Surface Area: 812 acres

Shoreline Length: 20 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 730 feet

Average Depth: 17 feet

Maximum Depth: 47 feet

Water Volume: 13,548 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: .8 years

Drainage Area: 25 sq. miles

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More Lake Macbride news from LakeLubbers.com

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  • New Lake Macbride photos coming soon!
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Do you have a vacation rental property at Lake Macbride? Coming in 2022, LakeLubbers will have an opportunity for you to showcase your listing and put it in front of thousands of lake lovers searching our site for homes, condos or townhomes to rent for their upcoming lake trip this season.

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LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.

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Click here to advertise your Lake Macbride vacation rental or local business.

The former Lake Macbride forum is closed. Find out why here.

New Lake Macbride photo gallery is coming soon.

Please share this article with your fellow lake lovers!

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Explore local Lake Macbride vacation rentals and hotel accommodations using our interactive map. Clicking on listings below will allow you to compare nearby properties, best rates and availability for your dates.

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New Lake Macbride photos coming soon!

Vacation Home Name

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  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • hot tub
  • wifi