We’ve been saying this all along, but here it is again: Iowa is so much more than cornfields and flat land. If you take the time to look around, you’ll see that our state is full of amazing natural wonders like nothing you would ever expect. From towering bluffs formed by ancient glacial deposits, to magical and cavernous caves, Iowa has so much to offer. If you need proof, just check out these 10 incredible natural wonders in Iowa.
1. The steep and rolling Loess Hills of western Iowa
During the Ice Age, glaciers moved across the Midwest, grinding rock into a dust as they went. When the glaciers started to melt, the valleys flooded and the sediment formed deposits that dried out and eventually eventually became covered by grass. Because of this long process of Mother Nature, we have the beautiful Loess Hills.
2. The otherworldly beautiful Maquoketa Caves
Because it is located in the Driftless Area of Iowa, which escaped glaciation during the ice age, the limestone caves of Maquoketa were subject to thousands of years of natural erosion, which gave us the wonderful and magical Maquoketa Caves we have the pleasure of visiting today.
3. The ancient and towering bluffs along the Upper Iowa River
The Upper Iowa River in the northeast part of the state is another landmark located in the Driftless Area of Iowa. Because no glaciers came through to flatten the land, there are steep bluffs and canyons that line the river's edge, making it unlike most of the other rivers in Iowa.
4. The beautiful scenery of Pikes Peak State Park
Pikes Peak is a gorgeous park overlooking the Mississippi River, near McGregor. From the top of the 500-foot bluff, you can see the beauty of Mother Nature for miles.
5. The magical and cavernous Crystal Lake Cave
Over a very long amount of time, the slow moving groundwater carved a cave from layers of limestone. After a while, the water became acidic and seeped through the ground, creating the caverns and passages that we now walk through at Crystal Lake Cave in Dubuque.
6. The serene beauty of nature at Ledges State Park
The sandstone that forms the cliffs of Ledges State Park, near Boone, are the remnants of a prehistoric sea that covered the Midwest around 300 million years ago. The cliffs themselves were formed as a result of the glaciation during the Ice Age, when the water from the melting glaciers carved out cliffs that would be used for our enjoyment 13,000 years later.
7. The breathtaking view of the Mississippi River near Effigy Mounds
Unlike much of the rest of Iowa, this area was bypassed by the last of the glaciers to move through the Midwest, which left time for the streams to carve out deep channels in the terrain, eventually creating this beautiful scene we get to enjoy today.
8. The stunning scenery at Eagle Point Park
Eagle Point Park in Dubuque is a lovely area that's situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The area is full of natural beauty, which you can enjoy from the gorgeous overlook. The park is just one of many gifts Mother Nature bestowed upon Iowa.
9. The wild, natural beauty of Three Mile Lake
Three Mile Lake in Afton is a mecca for nature of all kinds. From the fish that swim in the lake, to the birds that nest in the nearby wooded area, to the deer and other creatures that make their home here, the area is truly one of nature's wonders right here in Iowa.
10. The magnificent and stunning Spirit Lake
Spirit Lake, like the rest of the Iowa Great Lakes, is a giant glacial pothole that was formed during the last Ice Age, when the glaciers in the area melted and formed lakes. Thanks to some glaciers melting 13,000 years ago, we now get to spend our summers enjoying this beautiful lake with its clear, blue waters.
These photos make me truly grateful to live in such a wonderful state. What are some more natural wonders you’ve stumbled upon here in Iowa? Share your thoughts with us!