Iowa August 12, 2016
This Natural Wonders Road Trip Will Show You Iowa Like You’ve Never Seen It Before
There’s more to Iowa than meets the eye. We’re much more than cornfields and flat lands. There’s a surprising diversity and richness to the natural wonders that you can explore. From other-worldly caves to waterfalls and everything in between, this road trip will show you Iowa like you’ve never seen it before.
This road trip explores the natural wonders of eastern Iowa, and the driving time is a little over five hours in its entirety. You can find a map of the road trip route here.
1. Dunnings Spring Park
The trip starts out in the stunning northeast corner of Iowa. Known for its lush wooded areas and impressive limestone bluffs, this part of the state is anything but flat. Dunnings Spring Park is a lovely area to hike around and admire the Dunning’s Spring waterfall.
2. Decorah Ice Cave
Near Dunning’s Spring Park is the Decorah Ice Cave, a cave that is cold and ice-covered all year long, even in the humid August heat, due to the glacier it sits upon.
3. Effigy Mounds National Monument
There’s nothing like the Effigy Mounds National Monument. There are more than 200 prehistoric mounds built by Native Americans representing 20 affiliated tribes. Many of the effigy mounds are shaped like animals, including bears and birds, and the site is known to be the largest concentration of mounds that remain in the country.
4. Pikes Peak State Park
Pikes Peak State Park contains gorgeous hiking trails, a waterfall named Bridal Veil Falls and an overlook that provides breathtaking views of the Mississippi River.
5. Crystal Lake Cave
Crystal Lake Caves offer a mystical, otherworldly sort of beauty. The cave is a result of slow-moving groundwater carving the cave out of layers of limestone over millions of years.
6. Maquoketa Caves State Park
Spanning 323 acres, Maquoketa Caves State Park has the highest number of caves of any Iowa state park. Explore the trails throughout the park to see caves, formations, overlooks and even a waterfall.
An island in landlocked Iowa truly is a natural wonder, and Sabula is the only city in Iowa on an island. In Sabula, you can walk right along the Mississippi, watch for river wildlife, like Bald Eagles and even pelicans, and visit South Sabula State Park for some hiking, boating and fishing.
8. Wildcat Den State Park
The final stop on this road trip is Wildcat State Park. In this beautiful park, if you follow the trails, you can see many wonders, like “Steamboat Rock,” “Devil’s Punch Bowl” and “Fat Man’s Squeeze.”
Have you been to any of these spots? What did you think? For another great Iowa road trip idea, This Haunting Road Trip Through Iowa Ghost Towns Is One You Won’t Forget.