Iowa

The Best Outdoor Destinations in Iowa

When it comes to the best outdoor destinations in the United States, Iowa may not be the first state that comes to mind. However, Iowa is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery and outdoor activities that you don’t want to miss. From County fairs, to hiking and spelunking, scenic parks and stunning lakes, incredible trails, Iowa has it all. Including some great fishing, and superb hunting and a ton of great outdoor adventures. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best outdoor destinations in Iowa that are perfect for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

The Best Outdoor Destinations in Iowa

Iowa may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of outdoor destinations, but it should be. With its beautiful landscape, pristine lakes, and stunning parks, Iowa has something for every nature lover. Known for its landscape of rolling plains and cornfields, Iowa is a Midwestern state that is nestled between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. If you want to discover things to do in Iowa, we can help you choose the best things to do in the Hawkeye State. In this article, we’ll explore the best outdoor destinations in Iowa, including state parks, national monuments, lakes, and trails.

Dedicated in 1920 as Iowa’s first state park, Backbone State Park is one of the most geographically unique locations in Iowa

Backbone State Park

Backbone State Park is Iowa’s oldest state park, and it’s easy to see why it’s still popular today. Located in northeast Iowa, this park boasts breathtaking views of limestone bluffs, clear streams, and dense forests. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming. With over 21 miles of hiking trails and 16 miles of equestrian trails, Backbone State Park is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Effigy Mounds National Monument

Effigy Mounds National Monument is a unique destination in Iowa, known for its prehistoric Native American burial mounds shaped like animals. The monument covers over 2,500 acres and features more than 200 mounds, including bears, birds, and other animals. Visitors can explore the park on hiking trails that offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. Effigy Mounds National Monument is a great destination for history buffs and nature lovers alike.

Maquoketa Caves State Park

Maquoketa Caves State Park is located in eastern Iowa and is known for its natural caves and limestone formations. Visitors can explore the park’s 13 caves on guided tours or at their leisure. The park also offers hiking trails, camping facilities, and picnic areas. With its unique geology and natural beauty, Maquoketa Caves State Park is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Iowa Great Lakes

The Iowa Great Lakes region is a popular destination for water sports and outdoor activities. Located in northwest Iowa, the region is home to several stunning lakes, including West Okoboji Lake and Spirit Lake. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, and other water sports, as well as hiking and biking trails. The Iowa Great Lakes region is a perfect destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park is located in northeast Iowa and offers stunning views of the Mississippi River and surrounding bluffs. Visitors can hike along the park’s trails or enjoy a picnic with a view. The park also offers camping facilities, fishing, and scenic drives. With its breathtaking views and outdoor activities, Pikes Peak State Park is a must-visit destination in Iowa.

Hiking in Ledges State Park

Ledges State Park

Ledges State Park is located in central Iowa and is known for its unique rock formations and hiking trails. The park’s hiking trails offer breathtaking views of the Des Moines River and the park’s signature sandstone cliffs. Visitors can also enjoy camping, fishing, and picnicking in the park. With its stunning rock formations and outdoor activities, Ledges State Park is a great destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

Saylorville Lake

Saylorville Lake is located just north of Des Moines and is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and camping. The lake offers over 6,000 acres of water for boating and fishing, as well as several campgrounds and picnic areas. Visitors can also enjoy hiking and biking trails around the lake. With its wide range of outdoor activities, Saylorville Lake is a great destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

Wabash Trace Nature Trail

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail is a 63-mile trail that runs from Council Bluffs to the Missouri border. The trail is popular for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and offers beautiful views of Iowa’s countryside. The trail also features several small towns and historical sites along the way.

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge is located just outside of Des Moines and is a popular destination for wildlife viewing and hiking. The refuge is home to several native Iowa species, including bison, whitetail deer, elk, and prairie dogs. Visitors can hike the refuge’s trails and enjoy the beautiful prairie landscapes. With its unique wildlife and outdoor activities, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge is a great destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

Des Moines River Water Trail

The Des Moines River Water Trail is a 55-mile trail that runs from Fort Dodge to Des Moines. The trail is popular for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, and offers beautiful views of Iowa’s countryside. Along the way, visitors can stop at several small towns and historical sites. With its scenic views and outdoor activities, the Des Moines River Water Trail is a great destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

Decorah Bald Eagles

Every winter, Decorah, Iowa is home to a nesting pair of bald eagles that can be viewed via live stream on the internet. The Decorah Bald Eagles have become a popular attraction for bird watchers and nature lovers. Visitors can also explore the surrounding area, which offers several outdoor activities and attractions.

Iowa may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of outdoor destinations, but it’s clear that there’s plenty to see and do here.

From state parks and national monuments to lakes and trails, Iowa offers something for every nature lover and outdoor enthusiast. With its stunning natural scenery and wide range of activities, Iowa’s outdoor destinations are definitely worth a visit.

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