Camping at Diamond Lake

Camping at Diamond Lake    by Mark Vavroch

Is spring finally here? With the temperatures in the 60s and 70s over the weekend, I think we are all hoping it is, although some of us thought spring was here about mid- February.  I know many of you are eagerly anticipating another year of camping and fishing at Diamond Lake Park.

Last year the Conservation Board made a change in setting its official camping season. Often, campers would complain about the camping season not starting soon enough, or not lasting long enough into the fall.  Now, there is basically no camping season set!  The electricity and water will remain on year-a-around in the Diamond Lake campgrounds for the early and late season campers, travelers, and hunters.  The facilities will be opened and closed as the weather dictates; usually the restrooms, shower houses, and fish cleaning station at Diamond Lake are open from April 15 to October 20.

At this point, the Poweshiek County Conservation Board does not take campsite reservations at Diamond Lake Park, it still operates on a first come – first serve basis.  The Park has a self-registration system, and you must register at one of the three booths and deposit your camping fees there before setting up camp.

Shown here is a late season camper enjoying the fall colors at Diamond Lake. Last year, the Conservation Board changed its policy to allow the Diamond Lake campgrounds to remain open year-a-round giving campers additional time to enjoy the park.

The Board also discussed camping and shelter reservation fees for 2017, and compared current fees to other state and county parks.  The Board increased camping fees at Diamond Lake for an electrical site 3 years ago from $15 to $17, but left primitive fees at $10 per night.  After much debate by the Board, they decided not to increase the camping or shelter house fees at Diamond Lake this year.  To reserve one of the three shelter houses at Diamond Lake, a $25 reservation fee is charged.

“I believe the Board is providing a very valuable service to our residents that enjoy camping and fishing at Diamond Lake, and maybe we can keep a few more Poweshiek County campers at home, and attract a few more out of county campers by trying to keep our camping fees low.   Diamond Lake campers are very important to the Conservation Board. They are the ones that help us fund our conservation projects, and they also boost the local economy”, noted Gene Long, Board Chair.

The new 32 site electrical campground that opened in 2013 at Diamond Lake is an excellent example of camping fees going directly back into the development of the park. Without camping revenue, the Board would not have been able to fund this project.  Hopefully, this new campground will now relieve some of the pressure during those busy weekends and holidays.

The main shelter at Diamond Lake was replaced last fall/winter with a new shelter house and standalone restroom. Construction should be completed around mid-May.

Replacing the main shelter is another great example of how the Board is utilizing camping fees to upgrade park facilities. The main shelter house was replaced with a new shelter and standalone restroom. County Conservation staff hope to have the facility ready to use by mid-May.  The shelter (which is identical to the new #2 shelter on the north side of the park) will feature a 12 foot block serving table with outlets and two barbeque grills.  It is located near the playground.

As our park continues to age, the Board continues to address some of the many infrastructure problems at Diamond Lake.  This past winter, the Board hired a contractor to place about 800 tons of rip rap to protect the shoreline and the integrity of the Diamond Lake dam.  The majority of the funds for the rip rap project came from a Fish Habitat Grant that was recently awarded to the Conservation Board from the Iowa DNR.  Fish Habitat funds are derived from a small portion of each fishing license sold in Iowa.