The 2-Hour Road Trip Around Iowa's Driftless Area Is A Glorious Spring Adventure
While most of Iowa was shaped and formed by glaciers during the last ice age, one section of the state was left untouched by the ice. The Driftless area covers part of Wisconsin, too, and it’s one of the natural wonders of the Midwest. Take this Driftless Area day trip to see the best of it all in one short two-hour drive – which leaves plenty of time to get out of the car and explore.
Take this short Driftless Area day trip through some of the most beautiful scenery and charming towns here in the Hawkeye State.
Start off along the Bluffton Palisades of the Upper Iowa River.
These beautiful cliffs make for a scenic picnic spot, or if you'd rather get in the water, you can wade or paddle for a bit before heading on your way.
In the same area, you'll also find Malanaphy Springs State Preserve.
From the trailhead, walk about a mile back into the woods until you find a gorgeous and towering cascade. Hang out here for a while - it might be the most secluded and relaxing place in the Hawkeye State.
Next, make the short drive to Decorah to see Dunnings Spring Falls.
Unlike Malanaphy Springs, Dunnings Spring doesn't require any hiking to discover. You can see it from the parking lot - and it's a short walk to get to the waterfall itself, where you can dip your toes in or climb around the rocks.
Right next to Dunnings Spring Park you'll find the Decorah Ice Cave.
This fascinating cave is actually just about 35 degrees all year long. It's a wonderful place to cool off, and oddly enough, you'll see thick ice here well into August before it finally melts for the fall.
Hop back in the car to warm up after your ice cave adventure and head out to Lansing.
This charming little river town is the perfect place to stop for lunch.
After you've rested a bit, make plans to visit Effigy Mounds National Monument.
This sacred site is the last hiking spot of this Driftless Area day trip, and it's worth all of the effort you'll expend as you hike past the sacred burial mounds and up to the river overlooks.
As you head down to your final destination for the evening, stop to stroll the streets of McGregor.
Many people visit this town to see Pikes Peak State Park, but the town itself is worth exploring! It's historic, charming, and full of small businesses and restaurants worth visiting.
Finally, you'll end your Driftless Area day trip with a sunset stroll along the Guttenberg Riverwalk.
Iowa's oddly German town will welcome you in and show off a gorgeous view of the Mississippi River before you hop back in the car and head home.
What will you discover when you get out to see this gorgeous corner of the Hawkeye State?
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Upper Iowa River Access Area, 2820 Bluffton Rd, Decorah, IA 52101, USA
Malanaphy Spring Falls, 2820 Bluffton Road, Decorah, Iowa, 52101
Dunning's Spring Park, Ice Cave Road, Decorah, IA, USA
Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa 76, Harpers Ferry, IA, USA
Guttenberg, IA 52052, USA