University of Vermont AAHS

Iowa Recreational Use Statute




461C.1 Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to encourage private owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes.


461C.2 Definitions

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

1. "Charge" means any consideration, the admission price or fee asked in return for invitation or permission to enter or go upon the land.

2. "Holder" means the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee, occupant or person in control of the premises; provided, however, holder shall not mean the state of Iowa, its political subdivisions, or any public body or any agencies, departments, boards or commissions thereof.

3. "Land" means abandoned or inactive surface mines, caves, and land used for agricultural purposes, including marshlands, timber, grasslands and the privately owned roads, water, water courses, private ways and buildings, structures and machinery or equipment appurtenant thereto.

4. "Recreational purpose" means the following or any combination thereof: Hunting, trapping, horseback riding, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, motorcycling, nature study, water skiing, snowmobiling, other summer and winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, or scientific sites while going to and from or actually engaged therein.


461C.3 Liability of owner limited

Except as specifically recognized by or provided in section 461C.6, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on such premises to persons entering for such purposes.


461C.4 Users not invitees or licensees

Except as specifically recognized by or provided in section 461C.6, a holder of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use such property for recreational purposes does not thereby:

1. Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose.

2. Confer upon such person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom the duty of care is owed.

3. Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by an act or omission of such persons.


461C.5 Duties and liabilities of owner of leased land

Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the provisions of sections 461C.3 and 461C.4 shall be deemed applicable to the duties and liability of an owner of land leased, or any interest or right therein transferred to, or the subject of any agreement with, the United States or any agency thereof, or the state or any agency or subdivision thereof, for recreational purposes.


461C.6 When liability lies against owner 

Nothing in this chapter limits in any way any liability which otherwise exists:

1. For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity.

2. For injury suffered in any case where the owner of land charges the person or persons who enter or go on the land for the recreational use thereof, except that in the case of land or any interest or right therein, leased or transferred to, or the subject of any agreement with, the United States or any agency thereof or the state or any agency thereof or subdivision thereof, any consideration received by the holder for such lease, interest, right or agreement, shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this section.


461C.7 Construction of law

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to:

1. Create a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to persons or property.

2. Relieve any person using the land of another for recreational purposes from any obligation which the person may have in the absence of this chapter to exercise care in the use of such land and in the person's activities thereon, or from the legal consequences of failure to employ such care.

3. Amend, repeal or modify the common law doctrine of attractive nuisance.


Reviewed by AAHS in July 2001.

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