We know all about the Seven Wonders of the World, from the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Temple of Artemis, but what about the wonders right in our own backyard? From entire structures made of gemstones to ancient fossil gorges older than the dinosaurs, here are some of the most amazing wonders in Iowa:
1. Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend
Often called the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend is the largest man-made Grotto in the world, and contains the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location.
2. Devonian Fossil Gorge, Iowa City
The Devonian Fossil Gorge in Iowa City was created by the Flood of 1993 and expanded by the Flood of 2008 when water topped the emergency spillway. The overflow washed away tons of soil, huge trees, and part of the road. When the waters receded, the 375-million-year-old fossilized Devonian ocean floor was revealed. Visitors can now start their stroll back in time at the Entry Plaza, making their way down into the gorge to find thousands of fossils laid out at their feet.
3. The Loess Hills, 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.
4. Effigy Mounds National Monument, Harpers Ferry
Effigy Mounds National Monument, located in Allamakee and Clayton Counties, contains 191 prehistoric Indian mounds, making Effigy Mounds National Monument the largest known concentration of mounds remaining in the United States.
5. Maquoketa Caves State Park, Maquoketa
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.
6. Snake Alley, Burlington
Snake Alley in Burlington is reportedly the most crooked street in the world, with seven curves over 275 feet. The street was was built by the town's German founders in 1894 as an experimental street design.
7. The Iowa Great Lakes, Dickinson County
Each 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.
Iowa truly is full of wonderful, unexpected surprises. What are some other places you would add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments section!