Iowa March 10, 2018
Take This Epic Road Trip To Experience Iowa’s Great Outdoors
If you were to ask someone from out-of-state, they might try to tell you that Iowa is flat, boring and only prairie. Luckily, us Iowans know that’s not true, and that some amazing sights are hidden in Iowa’s great outdoors. Plan a long weekend this spring or summer to see some of the best of Eastern Iowa, along the Mississippi River and into our best State Parks.
Get your hiking boots on and pack some trail mix, because it's time to check out the best of Iowa's wilderness.
for an interactive map!
Start your trip in one of Iowa's most iconic spots - Pikes Peak State Park.
Pikes Peak offers over 11 miles of trail, with some of the best views in the Midwest. Plan a picnic lunch at the top, where you'll be able to take in the great Mississippi River. The Decorach limestone you pass holds fossils from millions of years ago, and Bridle Veil Falls is one wonder you'll find on your way up to the overlook.
Next, you'll head down to Iowa's oldest state park, Backbone.
Backbone State Park offers miles of trails, picnic spots, and paddle drop-in spots for kayakers. You can even rent a boat there! Enjoy some time out on the water in the heat of the day. The winding paths of this pretty park will take you up the Devil's Backbone, or down to the lake.
Your third and final stop for the day will be at the Mines of Spain in Dubuque.
This historic site was the first European settled land in Iowa! Julien Dubuque was issued a land grant from the Governor of Spain when he established his fur trading, and later lead mining, business here. The hiking, history, and scenic vistas make this a must-see park for any Iowan.
After all that hiking, you deserve to take a break! Spend the night in the historic, charming city of Dubuque.
In the morning, you'll want to get an early start towards Maquoketa Caves State Park.
one of the best hiking spots in Iowa
, so be sure you've saved your energy! The cliffs, bluffs, caves and trails of this incredible park will convince you that you've found paradise.
The beautiful and humble Wapsipinicon State Park is your next stop on Day 2.
Pick up a picnic lunch after your morning at Maquoketa, and head down to Wapsipinicon State Park. This is one of Iowa's oldest state parks, and it's a great place for a scenic wildflower stroll along the Wapsi river. Relax here for a few as you enjoy your lunch and the sound of the flowing water.
Hopefully your lunch re-energized you, because Lake Macbride is next!
You'll want to plan to spend several hours here.The Park's five mile multi-use trail will show off the best of the surrounding nature, and bring you to the park's beach area. Small boats are allowed on the lake, and from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can rent them and relax or fish out on the lake. You'll also be able to hike to one of Iowa's most impressive waterfalls, where Lake Macbride falls into the Iowa River.
Wildcat Den is your last State Park on this epic Iowa road trip.
Give yourself enough time to explore Wildcat Den before the sun sets, and you'll truly discover one of Iowa's best parks. On your hike, you'll pass impressive formations like "Steamboat Rock," "Devil's Punch Bowl," and " Fat Man's Squeeze." The views you'll find along these hikes are absolutely incredible.
Kick off your shoes and relax for the night in Davenport - your road trip is complete!
Davenport is where you'll stay your last night, before heading back to wherever you hail from. Stay at the historic Hotel Blackhawk or a boutique Bed and Breakfast, and enjoy a walk through the town in the morning before heading on your way. This pretty Mississippi River town is one of the most scenic in the state.
Of course, if you’d rather camp in the parks than live it up in a Dubuque or Davenport hotel, you can certainly do that! Information about camping in Iowa State Parks can be found
right here. Enjoy your time getting to know nature in the Hawkeye State!