With the snow melting and spring quickly approaching, we Iowans are just itching to get outdoors and have ourselves a little adventure. If you feel like doing a little exploring, check out one of these 10 places for starters:
1. Maquoketa Caves State Park, Maquoketa
This popular spot in Maquoketa is a must-see for out-of-towners and in-staters alike. Six miles of trails, a beautiful forest, and waterfall are perfect for hikers, campers, and nature tourists.
2. Effigy Mounds National Monument, Harpers Ferry
Effigy Mounds, located in Harpers Ferry, offers a 14 mile trail system, as well as over 200 Native American mounds for visitors to explore.
3. Devonian Fossil Gorge, Iowa City
At the Devonian Fossil Gorge in Iowa City, visitors can 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.
4. The Loess Hills, western Iowa
The Loess Hills span across several counties in west-central Iowa, covering over 200 miles along the Missouri River. There is also a Loess Hills State Forest, which spans a sprawling 11,266 acres, and is a prime spot for hiking, fishing, picnicking, or sightseeing.
5. Pine Lake State Park, Eldora
Located in Eldora, Pine Lake State Park offers an extensive trail system that's perfect for bikers or joggers, as well as a sandy beach for swimmers in the summer.
6. Wabash Trace Nature Trail, western Iowa
The Wabash Trace Nature Trail is a gorgeous, 63-mile trail that runs through Council Bluffs, Mineola, Silver City, Malvern, Imogene, Shenandoah, Coin and Blanchard. Trail-goers will get the chance to walk the trail through the Loess Hills, and enjoy some of the finest scenery in all of Iowa.
7. Pikes Peak State Park, McGregor
Located in McGregor, Pikes Peak is hands-down one of the most beautiful places in Iowa. On its trails, hikers can look out over the valley from high bluffs, and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.
8. Backbone State Park, Dundee
Located in Dundee, Backbone was Iowa’s very first state park. The park boasts 21 miles of rugged, winding trails, and plenty of limestone cliffs for climbers.
9. Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, Dubuque
The Mines of Spain in Dubuque is a perfect spot for hikers, with over 21 miles of trails. During winter, the area even opens up for cross-country skiers.
10. Ledges State Park, Boone
Located near Boone, Ledges is a favorite spot for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The park has a 5.4-mile trail, cliff areas, and many beautiful wildflowers.
11. Wildcat Den State Park, Muscatine
Wildcat Den State Park in Muscatine features an extensive trail system with a beautiful view of the 75-foot cliffs and rock formations. There are also several historic structures perfect for exploring.
12. Stone State Park, Sioux City
Stone State Park in Sioux City contains 6 miles of equestrian trails, 6 miles of mountain bike and snowmobile trails and 8 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, so adventurers of all kinds will find fun!
What are some more spots to go exploring in Iowa? Share your suggestions with us in the comments section below!