Geography of Appanoose County, Iowa

North America

Appanoose County, located in southern Iowa, is a region rich in history, natural beauty, and diverse landscapes. From its rolling hills to its expansive forests and tranquil lakes, Appanoose County offers a picturesque setting for residents and visitors alike. In this exploration, we’ll delve into the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other notable features of Appanoose County.


According to prozipcodes, Appanoose County encompasses an area of approximately 516 square miles, making it one of the larger counties in Iowa. It is situated in the south-central part of the state, bordered by Monroe County to the north, Wapello County to the east, Wayne County to the south, and Davis County to the west. The county seat and largest city is Centerville.

The geography of Appanoose County is characterized by rolling hills, fertile valleys, and dense forests. The county is part of the Driftless Area, a region known for its rugged terrain and lack of glacial activity during the last Ice Age. As a result, the landscape of Appanoose County features steep bluffs, winding rivers, and scenic overlooks.

The county is also home to several state parks and recreational areas, including Lake Rathbun, which offers camping, fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities for visitors.


Appanoose County experiences a humid continental climate, characterized by hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. The region’s climate is influenced by its location in the Midwest and its proximity to the Mississippi River, which can bring moisture-laden air masses and extreme weather conditions.

Summers in Appanoose County are warm and humid, with daytime temperatures often reaching into the 80s and 90s Fahrenheit. Thunderstorms are common during the summer months, bringing heavy rainfall and occasional severe weather.

Winters in Appanoose County are cold and snowy, with temperatures frequently dropping below freezing. Snowfall accumulates throughout the winter months, creating ideal conditions for winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and sledding.

Spring and autumn in Appanoose County are relatively mild, with temperatures gradually warming up in the spring and cooling down in the autumn. These seasons are favored by many residents for outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and scenic drives through the countryside.

Rivers and Lakes:

Appanoose County is home to several rivers and streams that meander through its picturesque countryside, providing important habitats for wildlife and offering opportunities for outdoor recreation. One of the most significant of these waterways is the Chariton River, which flows from its headwaters in southern Iowa through Appanoose County and into northern Missouri. The Chariton River and its tributaries provide opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking, as well as scenic views of the surrounding landscape.

In addition to rivers, Appanoose County is dotted with several lakes and reservoirs, both natural and man-made. Lake Rathbun, located in the western part of the county, is the largest lake in southern Iowa and a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The lake offers camping, fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities, as well as amenities such as cabins, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

Notable Features:

Appanoose County is home to several notable landmarks and attractions that showcase the region’s natural and cultural heritage. One of the most iconic features of the county is the Appanoose County Historical and Coal Mining Museum, located in Centerville. The museum preserves the history of the county, including its coal mining heritage, and features exhibits on local history, industry, and culture.

Another popular destination in Appanoose County is the Honey Creek Resort State Park, located on the shores of Lake Rathbun. The resort offers a variety of outdoor activities and amenities, including golfing, swimming, hiking, and boating. Visitors to the resort can also enjoy dining, shopping, and lodging options, making it an ideal destination for family vacations and weekend getaways.


In conclusion, Appanoose County offers a diverse array of geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other natural features that make it a unique and appealing destination for residents and visitors alike. From its rolling hills and fertile valleys to its expansive forests and tranquil lakes, this corner of southern Iowa provides endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, exploration, and relaxation. Whether you’re hiking along the Chariton River, fishing on Lake Rathbun, or exploring the exhibits at the local museum, Appanoose County has something to offer for everyone.