Big Hollow Recreation Area

Big 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.

Park Master Plan

We have much more planned for the park in the coming years. Learn about our efforts to make Big Hollow a World-Class Park for generations to come. Check out the Park Master Plan online.


Outdoor recreation activities available at Big Hollow include:

Big Hollow Water Quality Project Graphic

Water Quality Project

We're working hard to improve the water quality in Big Hollow Lake. Learn more about our water quality efforts here.


  1. Park hours are 6 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
  2. Camping permitted in designated areas only
  3. Golf carts are not allowed. UTV / ATV's must follow Des Moines County Ordinance #56
  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. Public hunting is permitted following all state laws governing public lands
  8. Permit required to use the Big Hollow Shooting Range
  9. All boats must operate at no wake on the lake. There are no motor size restrictions
  10. 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 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Full DMCC Rules (PDF)

Facility Refund Policy (PDF)


Big Hollow is conveniently located ten miles north of Burlington. Get there by taking Pleasant Grove Road west three miles off of Highway 61 then turning south on 152nd Avenue and go one mile to the park entrance.

Park Physical Address

18853 152nd Ave.
Sperry, IA 52650



Big Hollow offers 48 campsites within the park, each only a short distance 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 campground host is usually present during the summer months to offer assistance and Park Rangers make regular rounds through the park.

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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.

The nightly rate is $25 for full hookup sites and $10 for a primitive tent site.

Cabin front

"Off-Grid" Cabin

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; today, 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.


If you are planning a fishing event at Big Hollow, you must apply for a permit with the DNR. You can apply here. 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.

4H kid on range


Big 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 Des Moines County Conservation's Shooting Range Certification Course.

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).

Other Park Amenities

Shelter Houses: Big Hollow offers a number of shelter houses that can be used for picnics and family gatherings. Most can be rented in advance using the park's online reservation system.

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:The 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.


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