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Green Castle Recreation Area

Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Green Castle Recreation Area
Carry in canoes and kayaks only are allowed on Green Castle Lake. 
Education Education at Green Castle Recreation Area
American Bison were once the most abundant mammal in North America but by the late 1800’s less than 1000 bison survived. This massive six foot tall, 2,000 pound animal once roamed most of North America with only one natural predator -  the wolf.  Even the wolf couldn’t take down a mature, healthy animal, instead they preyed on the young, sick, and older animals.  People, however, did have an impact.   Population decline was due to unregulated hunting as settlers and railroads moved west. The last reported bison in Iowa was in 1869 in the northwest corner of the state. The small bison herd at Green Castle is one of the few places that bison can be found in Iowa. Once on the verge of extinction, the bison population is now on the rise throughout the United States. 

Bison roamed the tall grass prairie eating grasses and sedges, slowly grazing through an area mostly  during the morning and late afternoon. Bison also wallow in the mud or dirt to get relief from insects.  At Green Castle, watch for a wallowing hole on the east side of the enclosure or on the west side where they dust themselves. Notice their thick long coats which they slowly shed as summer approaches. 

Bison mating occurs in the fall and the gestation period is around nine months, with the calves being born in April or May. The calves are light brown in color and are able to walk a few hours after being born.  There are a couple new residents at Green Castle this spring with two bison calves being born in late April. Both calves were born the same weekend and both are healthy and doing great. 

Imagine seeing thousands of these magnificent animals roaming the prairies. What a sight that would have been!  Watching the bison at Green Castle can give you a small glimpse of bison behavior and of what Iowa used to be like.  When you visit the bison remember that even though they are captive, they are a wild animal with young to protect. 

Trumpeter swan
Also, located next the bison corral is the Trumpeter Swan exhibit.  Located on the pond is  a pair of breeding swan and in the Spring it is not uncommon to see cygnets.  Trumpeter Swans vanished from most of the United Sates over 100 years ago due to over hunting and lead poisoning.
Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Green Castle Recreation Area
Come the newly renovated Gander Lookout Shelter.  Shelter has plenty of picnic tables, metal serving counters, grills, and a wrap around deck that is perfect for wildlife observation.  Playground eqiupment and restrooms are close by.
Fishing Fishing at Green Castle Recreation Area
Green Castle Lake provides habitat for many species many game fish including: largemouth bass, northern pike, bluegill, crappie, bullhead, channel catfish, red-eared sunfish, and walleye.  Additionally jetties have been created for easy shore line fishing, and numerous submerged fishing shelters to provide habitat to promote health fish populations. Historically Green Castle Lake is the site of the current state record Crappie which weighed in at 4 lbs. 9 oz. and was 21 1/4 inches long.
Picnicking Picnicking at Green Castle Recreation Area
Green Castle Recreation Area has two shelter houses that are on  a first come/first served basis that include picnic tables and grills.  While Gander Lookout Shelter remains locked unless it is rented, the wrap around deck is available on a first come/first served basis unless the shelter is rented.  There are grills and playground requipment  located by Gander Lookout.

Gander Lookout Shelter also can be rented for $75 a day plus a $100 clean up deposit.  If interested in renting please call 641-752-5490.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Green Castle Recreation Area
A hiking path completely encompasses Green Castle Lake allowing you to view the geese on the lake, prairie areas, the bison corral, the Trumpeter Swan exhibit,  and other wildlife.   Come take a hike and enjoy the outdoors!
Winter Activities Winter Activities at Green Castle Recreation Area
Cross county skiing, sledding/tobagganing, snow shoeing, snowboarding, ice fishing, and ice skating are allowed at Green Castle Recreation Area when the weather and conditions permit.  Remember that Green Castle Recreation Area is only  11 miles from downtown Marshalltown.