Beaches Still Open for 4th of July, but Expect Crowds

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  --  High water has closed off several lakes and beaches in the metro on the 4th of July including Saylorville Lake and Gray's Lake. Surprisingly, Raccoon River Park has not been affected by flooding and is open and dry. They are expecting 10,000 people to come through the park for the beach and fireworks.

Another busy spot Wednesday will be Big Creek Beach, it was not affected by flooding, but water levels are just a little higher than normal.

“Big Creek, it’s a five mile per hour speed limit on the lake and like I say everybody should have life jackets, a throwable, and don’t drink too much and use common sense,” Big Creek Marina owner Mark Crawford said.

The Iowa DNR said alcohol is the leading factor in recreational boating deaths. Just like driving a car, it is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol level above .08 percent.

Big Creek Lake will have a higher police presence on the water to make sure everyone is safe and following the law.

Big Creek Marina expects a huge crowd for the holiday, they have sold out of pontoons but will still have other vessels such as paddle boats, kayaks and hydro bikes for sale. They are planning for a couple thousand people to use the lake and beach.

“When those beaches are so packed it’s so much more critical to keep an eye on every single person that’s out there because it’s easy to get lost and it’s easy to not know if someone is going under just to swim or if they’ve gone under permanently,” Iowa DNR Spokesperson Alex Murphy said.

The Iowa DNR said 85% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket, so if you choose not to wear one while swimming at the beach, swim with a buddy and keep that swimming buddy within arms distance of you. It is a good way to keep track of people at all times in the crowded water.