Union County

Creston and Union County are located in the beautiful rolling hillsides of southwest Iowa, 75 miles southwest of Des Moines and 100 miles southeast of Omaha. It is the perfect place to spend your next vacation or holiday. Our many “High Lakes” offer an array of outdoor recreational opportunities unmatched in SW Iowa. Over 2,100 acres of water, including five lakes and over 6,000 acres of publicly owned parks, woodlands, prairie and wetlands. All conveniently located within a 25 mile radius. Here you can also experience our railroad history or that of the Mormons who passed through on their way to Utah. Our expanding trails are becoming more and more popular. Please come enjoy and experience Union County.


Afton Splash Pad

Afton City Park

Creston: Arts Gallery

116 West Adams, Creston
641-782-2000, ext. 3

Creston’s Restored Depot

116 West Adams, Creston
641-782-2000, ext. 3

Creston Swimming Pool

McKinley Park

Frank Phillip’s Information Center

west on Hwy. 34, Creston, IA

Happy Valley Church

Lorimor, IA

High Lakes Shooting Range

North of Afton

McKinley Park Disc Golf Course

McKinley Park, Creston

Mount Pisgah Mormon

National Monument

1704 Mount Pisgah Rd, Thayer

Park to Park Trail

McKinley Park to Green Valley State Park

Rainbow Disc Golf Course

500 block of S. Vine & S. Birch
Creston, IA

Union County Historical Village

just off Hwy. 34 West in McKinley Park
Creston, 641-782-8159


For information on any of the lakes please
call the Union County Conservation Office
641-347-5100 or Union County Tourism –

12-Mile Lake

3-Mile Lake

Afton Lake

Green Valley State Park

Summit Lake

Thayer Lake


Adams Street Country Lodge
1412 170th St., Creston | (641) 344-5478 | www.adamsstreetcountrylodge.com

Green Valley State Park Cabins
Green Valley State Park | (641) 782-5131 | www.iowadnr.com

Holiday Motel
800 S Walnut, Hwy 34 East, Creston | (641) 782-1644

Farmhouse 1910
2179 180th St., Afton | (612) 718-2566 | Find us on Facebook

Moonlite Motel
704 New York Ave, Hwy 34 West, Creston | (641) 782-4422

Rodeway Inn
804 W. Taylor, Hwy. 34 West, Creston | (641) 782-6541 | www.choicehotels.com/iowa/creston/rodeway-inn-hotels

Supertel Inn & Conference Center
800 Laurel Street, Hwy. 34 West, Creston | (641) 782-7873 | www.supertelinns.com

Sylvanus Lodges
(641) 340-0584

Three-Mile Lake Cabins
Three-Mile Lake | (641) 347-5100 | www.mycountyparks.com

Three Lakes Lodge
801 N. Pierce, Afton | (641) 344-1959

Timberview B&B
2011 Ringgold-Union St., Shannon City | (877) 339-2431 |wordweaver@hughes.net


12 Mile Lake

4 miles east of Creston

Afton City Park

on the square, Afton

Arispe Roadside Park

Hwy 169

Cedar Park

1937 190th Street, Creston

Country Court Mobile Home & RV Court

1804 Virginia Lane, Creston

Garfield Park

west of Afton

Green Valley State Park


Groesbeck Wildlife Area

NE of Afton

Lorimor City Park

west edge of Lorimor

McKinley Park & McKinley Park Camp Ground

Creston – 641-782-2000 ext. 2
west side of Creston

Mount Pisgah Park

1704 Mount Pisgah Road, Thayer

Rainbow Park

500 block of S. Vine & S. Birch, Creston

Talmage Hill Nature Park

4 miles east of Afton

Thayer Lake

one mile west of Thayer

Three-Mile Lake


Enjoy a Hometown 150th Celebration and Fourth of July in Creston

Looking for a fun hometown experience?  Look no further than Creston – June 29th through July 6th as they Celebrate 150 years with the 10,000 Crestonians.

One of the highlights of any event in Creston is the annual Parade, held this year on July 4th in Uptown Creston.  Creston is known for their parades and the July 4th Parade is one of the best and biggest. Before or after the parade many people will enjoy shopping the Flea Market, enjoying the sesquicentennial activities taking place in the restored depot or visiting with old and new friends.

McKinley Park will be the center of many events over those days including the Union County Historical Village.

Another highlight of the Celebration in Creston will be the annual fireworks dis-play at 9:30 p.m. in McKinley Park. on the 4th.  For a complete  listing of events and activities please visit www.crestoniowacham-ber.com.

If you are looking for a place to spend the 4th of July, and celebrate a 150th Birthday, remem-ber Creston.  You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy the Outdoors in Union County

Union County is one of southwest Iowa’s wildlife and outdoor recreation “must go places”. Located along and near Highway 34, with easy access to Interstate 35 and Interstate 80 the lakes and beautiful landscape are easily accessible to the avid outdoorsman and those who enjoy the outdoors and the beauty which Southwest Iowa offers.

Whether its deer or turkey, waterfowl or pheasants, walleye, Muskie or the lowly catfish, opportunities for hunting and fishing are plentiful in and around Union County. Union County’s High Lakes offer an array of outdoor recreational opportunities unmatched in southern Iowa. Five lakes including award winning 3-Mile Lake and Green Valley State Park along with 2,500 acres of publicly owned woodland and prairie….all conveniently located within a 20-mile radius of each other.

The lakes offer opportunities for water-skiing, boating, camping, hiking and picnicking and some great ice fishing during the winter months for the entire family.

The duck and goose hunting is excellent. Turkeys were stocked in the area in the late 70’s and have expanded to the point where just about every patch of woods has turkeys now.

The region has become a favorite for deer hunters as well.

Thousands of acres of CRP and cropland furnish an excellent habitat for wildlife. Or, if you prefer, you can hunt along the banks of Three Mile and Twelve-Mile Lakes, where hundreds of acres of cover and food plots have been created to draw wildlife.

Opened in 2013, the High Lakes Shooting Range, is another spot for the outdoor enthusiast.

Three great golf courses can also be found in Union County along with an expanding hiking and biking trail which now runs from McKinley Park in Creston north to Green Valley State Park. This Park to Park Trail is paved over five miles and once at Green Valley State Park you can enjoy another 3 plus miles of paved trails along with 6 miles of grass trails around Green Valley Lake. These latter trails are suitable for hiking and mountain bikes.

For more information on hunting, fishing or other activities in the area please call Union County Conservation at 641-347-5100. Call Creston/Union County Tourism for a free travel guide at 641-782- 7022 or visit our website at www.unioncountyiowatourism.com.

Visit The Historic Mormon Trail and Mount Pisgah Mormon National Monument

Between 1846 and 1852 more than 2,000 people made their homes at Mt Pisgah while thou-sands of others simply passed through on their way west.  Even those headed west to the gold fields in California stopped here for supplies and rest.

Mt. Pisgah located four miles south and one mile west of Lorimor, just off Highway 169, was the first white settlement in Union County.  This site was founded by Mormon Scout, Parley Pratt and served as a way station on the original Mormon Trail from 1846 until 1852.

Today you can tour a cabin that was built as a reproduction of the type built as shelter by those early travelers.  You can pause at the monument erected in memory of the residents who did not survive their journey.  Three hundred Mormons were buried here in just the   first few months. You can trace wagon tracks across the prairie grass trail that eventually became a main thoroughfare to the west.  You may picnic in the park near the site.

Tours are available.  For more information or to schedule a tour please call Bob Brown at 641-763-2504, or email at bbrown1704@yahoo. com.

Visit Union County Historical Village and Museum

The Union County Historical Village and Museum is located in Creston just off Highway 34 West in beautiful McKinley Park.  Here you can find buildings reminiscent of a prospering rural town in Iowa around the 1890’s.  You can see the fully furnished last operating rural school in Union County. Other original buildings brought to the complex include an 1855 log cabin, a barn originally built in 1896, a house built before 1900 and the Spaulding Methodist Church, built in 1878 where weddings still take place today. A depot, originally from Lucas and later used at Brooks, along with a signal tower from the Creston rail yards and a caboose, emphasize the importance of the railroad heritage to the area.

Replicas in the village include a general store, harness shop, barbershop, blacksmith shop, fire station, machine shed, print shop and gristmill. A muse-um adjoins the village and contains hundreds of artifacts and Union County memorabilia.

The Village is open from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day or by appointment and is free to the public. Tours can also be scheduled during the year.  For more information please call Dick at 641-782-4000 or Sharon at 641-782-2870.

Hot Air Balloon Days in Creston

Creston and Southwest Iowa’s hills and blue skies are a perfect setting for nearly 40 hot air balloons participating in the Hot Air Balloon Days the third weekend in September – September 20, 21 & 22, 2019.  Now in its 42nd year, the event is the second largest of its kind in the state of Iowa.

In addition to the balloon races during the weekend there is also the annual Hot Air Balloon Days Parade with high school marching bands from across the area, along with balloonists and many others on Saturday morning starting at 10:30 a.m. in Uptown Creston. The Creston City Center is the site of various activities for spectators of all ages as well.  A Flea Market and Craft Fair is a must see as well as a stroll through town to visit the local merchants open for your shopping pleasure during the day.


On Saturday afternoon you can continue to enjoy your day at the airport and participate in or enjoy the Pedal Pull and Pet Show. Weather permit-ting there are also tethered balloon rides avail-able. The very popular NightGlow begins around dusk. The event wraps up on Sunday morning with the last balloon race, weather permitting.

Mark your calendar and make your plans early to attend. For more information please call the Creston Chamber of Commerce at 641-782-7022 or visit their web-site at www.crestoniowa-chamber.com. Up, Up and Away.

150 Years of the Railroad in Southern Iowa

The year 2019 is the sesquicentennial of the railway extending across Southwest Iowa to the Missouri River. For rail-road fans and history buffs alike, places to visit include the restored 1899 Depot in Creston, constructed at a cost of $2,300,000 (in 2019 dollars) and the restored Richardson Romanesque Style 1903 Depot and Museum in Red Oak.

Also, the Pacific Junction Museum show-cases memorabilia about that extensive railroad crossroads, with lines west to Lincoln, north to Council Bluffs, south to St Joseph, east to Creston, and points beyond. The Creston and Pacific Junction depots include operational scale model railyards. 

Creston and Pacific Junction had roundhouses, with bays for repairing and rebuilding the labor intensive steam engines (external combustion compared to internal combustion diesel engines). A significant number of residents in Creston and Pacific Junction worked on what was, in the 1870’s, the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. Life and limb accidents were an occupational hazard, due to more than 1,125 freight and passenger cars passing daily thru Pacific Junction, for example.

The Mills County History Museum offers docent-led and self-guided tours in a restored caboose. The Creston, Red Oak, Mills County, and Pacific Junction museums include libraries open to the public.

Until a railway bridge across the Missouri River was built in 1880, a ferry traversed the river, to the railroad in Plattsmouth, Nebraska.

The BNSF Railway now moves more than 10 mil-lion carloads annually, and railroad traffic can be easily observed in Creston, Red Oak, and Pacific Junction with Creston being a division point.

For information on visiting the depots and museums in Southwest Iowa:

Creston click on  http://www.unioncoun-tyiowatourism.com/html/historical.html Red Oak click on  http://depothill.net Mills County click on  http://www.millscoun-tymuseum.qwestoffice.net/6120.html.

Creston/Union County Visitor’s Center

Creston/Union County Tourism & Information Center located on Highway 34 West houses information and scrap-books about the Phillips family and information on Creston & Union County’s many attractions, upcoming events and celebrations. It is located next to the Union County Freedom Rock.

Period gasoline pumps, the Phillips 66 trademark shield, and Phillips’ traditional colors of green and orange have been used to retain the historic value of the building.

Frank Phillips, who founded the Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and headed  it for many years, was not a native of Creston, but grew up in near-by Taylor County and began a career of barbering in Creston when he was fourteen years old.  Phillips was born in Greeley County, Nebraska on November 23, 1873.  The grass hoppers scourge in 1874 forced his family to move back to Taylor County, Iowa.

During a family excursion to town one Sunday, Frank spied one of the town’s barbers, decked out in fancy striped pants called spats, taking a lei-surely stroll. Frank then decided barbering was the life for him.  He found a job as an apprentice barber and settled down to learn the trade in Creston.  A few years later, bitten by the call of adventure,  Frank took his expertise west where he became a barber in the silver fields of Utah.  In 1895, Frank returned to Creston and    bought a barbershop located at the corner of Pine and Montgomery Streets. By the time Phillips was 24, he had earned enough money to buy the only other barber-shop in Creston.

Not long after his return to Creston, Frank fell in love with the banker’s daughter, Jane Gibson. After a few failed attempts to stop the courtship, Jane’s father offered Frank a job in the bank-ing business and gave his consent to their marriage.  Frank Phillips and Jane Gibson were married February 18, 1897, in Creston. For a short time Frank sold bonds in New England and Chicago for John Gibson’s bank, but his heart was not in the job.

In 1903, Frank heard about a new oil field that had been discovered near Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in what was then Indian Territory.  The spark of adventure was again ignited.  He withdrew his savings and headed to Oklahoma.  In 1917 he founded, with his brother, L.E., the Phillips Petroleum Corporation. As the company grew, new gasoline stations were opened across the country. In 1931 one of Iowa’s first Phillips 66 gasoline stations was built and opened on the    corner of South Cherry Street and Highway 34 in Creston.

In 1994 the old filling station was donated to Union County. After hours of volunteer labor, the renovated station opened in 1996 as Creston/Union County’s Visitor Information Center. It is open daily from mid-May until early October.

The Information Center was dedicated to Frank Phillips, a Union County farm boy and entrepreneur, whose dreams and hard work led him many miles from his beloved boyhood home, but whose heart never left Union County.

High Lakes Outdoor Alliance Shooting Range

The High Lakes Outdoor Alliance Shooting Range is a great addition to the Three Mile Lake Recreation Area in Union County.  The range was recently constructed and is managed by the High Lakes Outdoor Alliance, an all-volunteer, non-prof-it group.

The Range consist of 5 separate ATA certified trap shooting stations, 50 yards, a pistol range, rifle range with targets at 100, 200, 300, 400, 600 and 800 yards.  There is a clubhouse at the facility as well.

The High Lakes Outdoor Alliance hosts numerous shooting events along with local collegiate, FFA and 4-H trap shoot-ing teams.

For more information on the Range or questions on how to obtain a mem-bership please call Union County Conservation at 641-347-5100.

Gateway to Three Mile Lake Recreation Area – Afton

Afton is a community that meets you and greets you on their square. It is located at the intersection of Highways 169 and 34, is the southern Gateway to Three Mile Lake in Union County.

Every Tuesday evening from June through mid-August, the community gathers in the City Park, located in downtown Afton, to enjoy Lawn Chair Nights and a Farmers Market complete with music and food.  The Lion’s Club holds a Pre-Fourth of July celebration in the park on June 23rd. A Community Church Service, food, entertainment and games are some of the activities on the day’s agenda. The splash pad on the square is a fun stop for locals as well as visitors from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend between 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Afton has been host to the Union County Fair held in July (July 18 to July 24, 2019) for as long as anyone can remember.  A parade, rodeo and demolition derby headline the fair. While at the fair, visit the industry booths, tour the animal barns, 4-H booths and enjoy the great cooking and homemade ice cream.

Be sure to add Afton to your travel agenda.  It is a great place to visit. Please call 641-347-5224 for further details or visit their website at www.aftoniowa.com.

Creston’s Own McKinley Park

McKinley Park, is a picturesque park located in the northwest area of Creston.  The Park has an all purpose court, picnic and camping areas including Creston McKinley Campers Camp Ground with 38 electrical hook-ups and water.  There are eight shelter houses, a band shell, 18-hole disc golf course and play-ground area.  The Creston Farmers’ Market on Mondays during the summer is there as well in the afternoon.

McKinley Lake attracts numerous types of migratory birds throughout the year.  Many people enjoy watching the flocks as they fly in and out of the area.

Also at the Park is a Leisure Pool featuring a wading pool, heat-ed swimming pool, diving boards and a large water slide. McKinley Park is the beginning point of the paved trail that runs through west Creston to the campground area at Green Valley State Park.

For more information on what is available or to reserve a shelter house please call 641-782-2000 ext. 208.

Creston’s Historic

Creston began as a railroad town in 1869 – a 150 years ago this year.  It was located here as it was the high point on the Burlington Line between the two great rivers, the Missouri and Mississippi.

In 1960 the historic 1899 Rail Depot was closed and sold to the city of Creston for $1.00. Originally the building was condemned and scheduled for demolition, but citizens of Creston saved the historic landmark. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and in 1978 the Creston City offices located to the restored Depot.

Today, besides Creston City offices it will soon become the Amtrak Station in Creston.  Amtrak stops twice a day with a train headed East in the morning and a train headed West in the evening.  At the depot today, you can find the Union County Congregate Meal Site located in the building as well as Creston: Arts, the Gallery.  Also, the restored Depot now houses a Presidential Doll Collection, given to the city by a long-time resident, which depict all first ladies in their inaugural gowns through Mrs. Clinton.  In the Memorial Room on the first floor, designed as a waiting area from long ago, the Creston Model Railroaders have built a working replica of Creston during its rail-road hey-day.

Many train lovers visit the Depot to enjoy the atmosphere and the over forty plus trains that still pass through or stop in Creston on a daily basis. For more information please call 641-782-7022 or visit our website at www.crestoniowachamber.com.