Gull Point State Park
|Gull Point State Park|
|Iowa State Park|
|- elevation||1,411 ft (430 m) |
|Area||380 acres (153.8 ha)|
|Management||Iowa Department of Natural Resources|
The park features the largest lodge in Iowa to have been built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Seating up to 140 people, it can be rented for private events. Several open picnic shelters are also available. The shaded campground, one of the most popular in the area, has 112 sites, over half with electrical hookups. Other campground facilities include modern restrooms and showers, a holding tank dump station, and a playground.
Gull Point State Park provides numerous opportunities for water recreation, from a beach and boat ramp to fishing. The western half of the park features nature trails and, in winter, cross-country skiing.
Gull Point State Park occupies a peninsula on the west shore of West Okoboji Lake, Iowa's deepest natural lake, jutting out between Miller's Bay and Emerson's Bay. The area's lakes, wetlands, and sloughs interspersed with knobby hills are a kettle-and-kame landscape created during the last glacial period. The region was impacted by continental glaciers advancing and retreating between 13,500 and 12,000 years ago. Interconnected sloughs were created by runoff channels and hills by piles of rock debris. Many of the lakes and wetlands formed around blocks of ice left imbedded in the ground as glaciers melted back. The shores of Gull Point are strewn with glacial erratics, igneous and metamorphic boulders from far to the north that were carried and dropped by the ice.
A tradition has developed of young adults gathering for a massive party on the Gull Point State Park beach during the 4th of July holiday. With crowds of several thousand packed onto the small beach, many individuals wind up standing in the water up to waist-deep. This has raised safety concerns, compounded by binge drinking and risky activities. Underage drinking, public indecency, nudity, and sexual assault have become issues. While hard liquor is banned in Iowa state parks, beer and wine are not. In 2010 the state government considered a ban on all alcohol on the 4th of July and adjacent weekends for Gull Point and nearby parks, soliciting public comment. Ultimately a governor-appointed commission within the Iowa Department of Natural Resources narrowly voted down the ban 4-3. Instead the multi-agency law enforcement presence has been increased, coupled with a parking ban on the entrance road to ensure access for emergency vehicles. According to the State Parks Division, the heavy visitation and drinking issues have not extended to state parks outside the Iowa Great Lakes region.
- "Gull Point State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 1979-04-30. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "Gull Point State Park". Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
- Seigley, Lynette S.; Quade, Deborah J. (1996). "Gull Point State Park: A Glacial Legacy". Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
- Kemp, Andrea (30 June 2010). "Enforcement stepped up at Gull Point, area parks this Fourth". Dickinson County News (Spirit Lake and Okoboji, Iowa).
- Beeman, Perry (9 September 2010). "Panel defeats proposed July 4 alcohol ban at Iowa Great Lakes state-park beaches". Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa).
- Kemp, Andrea (21 July 2010). "The plan to ban: Public weighs in at public hearing on Gull Point debate". Dickinson County News (Spirit Lake and Okoboji, Iowa).
- Kemp, Andrea (15 September 2010). "Narrow margin splits DNR commission: Alcohol ban not in place for 2011". Dickinson County News (Spirit Lake and Okoboji, Iowa).