7 exciting outdoor adventures in Iowa

By: AdvWisdom
Title: 7 exciting outdoor adventures in Iowa
Sourced From: advwisdom.com/a/7-exciting-outdoor-adventures-in-iowa/
Published Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2021 13:51:06 +0000

There are several exciting outdoor adventures for all skill levels in several locations Iowa. My home state has rolling hills, cliffs, waterways, and exhilarating outdoor adventures not to be missed. Hope you are planning a day of outdoor adventure in Iowa because you won’t be disappointed. I’ve included some tips on each of these activities so you can have a memorable day.

Please note that I was a guest on a press trip to some of these activities. All opinions are my own.

1. Mountain Biking: Fort Dodge

That Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Park is a single lane trail in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The trail is approximately 10 miles and is a great experience for all skill levels. I’m not a professional mountain biker and I enjoyed riding this trail. As you cycle through the forest, you meander around the trees and through the forest. Summertime brings an abundance of flowers in bloom as well as beautiful river views. Beginners enjoy Lower Lizard where I spent my time riding this trail. More experienced riders will enjoy the Upper Lizard and the Phinney Loop.

Bring your bike, hop on the mountain bike trail, and enjoy an epic time at Fort Dodge. Bring a snack and find a bench by the river to rest before heading back to the parking lot. A bicycle helmet is recommended, but not required. There are no fees to cycle this route.

Larkin Lookout in the Yellow River State Forest.
Larkin Overlook in the Yellow River State Forest (Photo: Sara Broers)

2. Hiking: Allamakee County

Allamakee County offers some of the most incredible hiking trails you will find in the country. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails in the Yellow River State Forest. This state forest is huge as it covers 8,900 acres and includes more than 80 miles of hiking trails. You can hike and stay overnight if you want an extended adventure. The stars are visible while the black sky covers the paths. The view you find is amazing over the valley and the cliffs that surround the area. Pack binoculars as your adventure continues with your eyes to the sky. Bird watching opportunities are around every corner as you wander through the forest. Remember to bring plenty of water as you will want to pack everything you need.

Winter brings a different way of using the hiking trails. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are popular in the Yellow River State Forest in winter. Iowa has four different seasons, and this state forest is a fantastic way to experience them. Every season offers a new opportunity for outdoor adventure. Dress appropriately for the season and you will have an incredible day exploring Allamakee County. There are no fees for entering this state forest.

3. Cycle the High Trestle Trail: Polk County

Charge your bike and ride the famous Iowa Bike Path. The Hohe Trestle Trail connects five Iowa parishes and four counties. This popular bike path marks the 1 km long, 13-story bridge that spans the Des Moines River between Madrid and Woodward in central Iowa. The path is mostly flat and easy to drive. If you are a beginner or an experienced biker you will enjoy this trail. The Hohe Trestle Bridge is illuminated at night and offers a unique view of the path. For more thrills, keep going and challenge yourself with the distance.

When my husband and I were cycling the trail, we jumped on the trail in Madrid. There is a trailhead with toilets, a large car park and a restaurant nearby. It’s also a short drive to the bridge which is the highlight of this trail. Leave Madrid at sunset and enjoy the lights on the bridge – an experience you won’t forget. Make sure your bike is lit as it will be dark on the way back to the parking lot.

Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Park
Sara Broers

4. Off-Highway Vehicle Fleet: Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge, Iowa, is home to the Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Park. Riders come from all over the world to ride the miles of trails with ATVs, side-by-side and off-road motorcycles. There are 800 acres with 60 miles of hiking trails. I experienced this park side by side driving and it was great fun. They wind their way through the forest and every now and then climb a hill. In midsummer the wildflowers are in full bloom. If you like a thrill you can’t find anywhere else, this is your park. If you’re new to the trail you’ll be happy to know that the signage throughout the park is excellent.

You must tow your ATV to the starting point with a trailer and your OHV must be registered in the state where you call your home. If you are not a resident of Iowa, you must present an IDNR Nonresident User Permit. You can purchase these from your district clerk or from any licensing agent who sells hunting and fishing licenses. You must wear a helmet. I would also suggest that you wear long pants and closed-toe shoes.

Clear lake, Iowa.
Sara Broers / Shutterstock.com

5. Water skiing: Clear Lake

Clear Lake, Iowa, is the place where memories at the lake are awakened all summer. I grew up on this lake and learned to water ski when I was 10. Over the years I’ve seen friends of all ages learn to water ski and experience the thrill of riding the water. Water skiing is an incredible way to experience Clear Lake. If you don’t own a boat or trailer, that’s not a problem. You can rent a boat for the day from Clear Lake boats and enjoy the lake. Take a break on the seawall near downtown Clear Lake for a sandwich from Starboard Market and a cookie from Cookies Etc.

If you’re not ready to water-ski, hop on a tube. There’s nothing like cruising on the water on a hot summer day. Clear Lake is a great place to learn to water-ski or ski to your heart’s content. The best tip I can give you is to visit during the week for calmer waters and less boat traffic.

Kayaking in Estherville, Iowa.
Sara Broers

6. Kayaking: Estherville

High Lake is a kayak in northwest Iowa. You can rent a kayak for a small fee Emmet County Nature Center. Life jackets are included with your kayak rental. You have a choice of kayaks. You can opt for a sit-in kayak and a sit-on kayak. If you’re looking for a quiet place to enjoy the outdoors on the water, this is a great way to do it. Sit in your kayak, move at your own pace, and enjoy the water. What I noticed about this lake was the variety of birds. Look up and outside because you never know what you will see from your kayak. You can rent your kayak for more than two hours if you want more outdoor challenges. You can decide for yourself how far and how long you want to venture out onto the lake.

7. Riding on the trails: recreation area of ​​the Volga River

Lots of people often refer to that Recreation area Volga state in northeast Iowa as “Little Switzerland”. The rock formations, prairie, cliffs, rivers, lakes and hiking trails make this an outdoor lover’s paradise. In the warmer months, the paths are prepared for riders, hikers and mountain bikers. With more than 20 multi-purpose trails at your disposal, you will find natural beauties in every corner of this recreation area. And the prospect? The view of the lake will convince you immediately.

Winter offers the opportunity for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling on the trails. I haven’t visited this resort area in the fall, but I was told the fall foliage is amazing. Summertime is my favorite travel time, as the paths are ready for me and my hiking boots. There are no fees to visit this park, so make the most of your day.

Pro tips

No matter where you choose to experience the outdoors in Iowa, I know one thing for sure – you will enjoy every moment. Before attempting any of these activities, keep your skills in mind. Know your limits and don’t try to do something that you are not comfortable with. Each of these locations offers thrill seekers the opportunity to spend the time of their lives in the great outdoors of Iowa.

If you’ve always wanted to try something new, now is the time. With so many exciting outdoor adventures to choose from, you will find something you enjoy. I have personally had all of these experiences before. Each of them can be as challenging as you do. Summer is the best time to go kayaking and water skiing. Autumn and spring are ideal for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and OHV driving. Challenge yourself with something new and see how far you can go. If I know one thing, it is the fact that you will discover something that you do over and over again. Can’t wait to get back to OHV Park at Fort Dodge as it was indeed an outdoor adventure that I keep reliving in my mind.

For the outdoor adventurer looking to explore more of Iowa, check this out Cities in Iowa with incredible scenery and the best campgrounds in northeast Iowa.


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