Explore Underground Caves in Iowa

Did you know that the state of Iowa has several caves? Iowa has more than 1,000 caves, hidden out of sight, protected by their ruggedness. Many are open for exploration by the public. Here are some of the most popular in Iowa:

1. Spook Cave

Caves in Iowa: Spook Cave, McGregor

Photo courtesy Spook Cave

The only way to explore this cave is by boat! Guides explain the discovery, development and history of the natural limestone cave and surrounding area near McGregor. There are plenty of opportunities to photograph natural formations inside the fully-lighted cave. The temperature inside is always 47 degrees.

2. Maquoketa Caves State Park

Caves in Iowa: Maquoketa Caves State Park

Probably Iowa’s most unique state park, the Maquoketa caves vary from the 1100’ Dancehall Cave with walkways and lighting system to Dugout Cave. A trail system connects the caves, formations and overlooks. Trail highlights include the dramatic “Natural Bridge” and “Balanced Rock.”

3. Ice Cave State Preserve

Caves in Iowa: Ice Cave, Decorah

This cave in Decorah is famous for its rare ice deposits that exist until late summer. The ice is formed when the chilly air of winter lowers the rock temperature. Surface water seeps into the cave in the spring and freezes upon contact with the still-cold walls. The ice reaches its maximum thickness in June.

4. Crystal Lake Cave

Caves in Iowa: Crystal Lake Cave, Dubuque

Miners discovered this cave near Dubuque in 1868 while drilling for lead. Crystal Lake Cave was opened to the public in 1932. Tour guides lead visitors on a 30-45 minute adventure inside the cave where the temperature is always 52 degrees.

5. Wapsipinicon State Park Caves

Caves in Iowa: Wapsipinicon State Park Caves, Anamosa

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, a trip to Wapsipinicon State Park near Anamosa isn’t complete without visiting bowl-shaped Horse Thief Cave. Legend has it that two horse thieves used this cave for their camp. There’s also the Ice Cave, which offers cool temperatures in the heat of the summer.

 

Ride Worthy Bike Trails in Iowa

Headed to Iowa for Grand National Rally? Check out these great bicycle trails all over Iowa!

1. Cedar Valley Trails

Cedar Valley Trails

Cedar Falls, Waterloo

Choose your own adventure on more than 110 miles of trail loops in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area. Mapsprovide information on 11 trail loops ranging from 2 to 16 miles. The trails also connect to both the Cedar Falls and Waterloo downtown districts, museums, hotels, restaurants and bars. More than 75 wayfinding signs help direct you to points of interest on the trails. Need to rest for a bit? Then head to Cedar Falls’ Main Street for a sweet treat at Scratch Cupcakery, a tasty brew from SingleSpeed Brewing, and an overnight at the Blackhawk Hotel.

2. Fairfield Loop Trail

Fairfield

Fairfield Loop Trail

The Fairfield Loop Trail circles the southern Iowa town of Fairfield, making each mile of your ride different from the last. Cycle 15.9 miles through local parks and wetlands and over Louden Bridge, which features 171 ceramic plaques created by local art students. After making a loop of town, bike your way to Fairfield’s downtown square to dine at one of the town’s adventurous restaurants like the Istanbul Grill or Green Gourmet. Or stop at Jefferson County Ciderworksfor a glass of hard cider, brewed in-house. Too early for a drink? Try the coffee at Café Paradiso; it has been voted Iowa’s best coffee for seven years straight.

3. Great Western Trail

Rideworthy Routes: Great Western Trail, Des Moines Area, Iowa

Des Moines, West Des Moines, Cumming, Martensdale

The asphalt Great Western Trail is built on Chicago Great Western’s abandoned rail bed. In 16.5 miles you’ll cruise from the urban landscape of Des Moines to rural countryside near Cumming and Martensdale. Several picnic shelters along the way offer great stretch breaks. Be sure to stop at the Cumming Tap, a popular watering hole at the halfway point of the trail.

4. Heritage Trail

Dubuque, Durango, Dyersville, Epworth, Farley, Graf

The scenic 26-mile-long compacted limestone Heritage Trail passes through eight towns and spans all of Dubuque County. The gentle grade is less than 1%, making it suitable for use by all ages and abilities. Most of the trail is tree-covered but the further west you go the more exposed the trail becomes as it is surrounded by open swaths of native prairie grasses.

5. High Trestle Trail

Rideworthy Routes: High Trestle Trail, Central Iowa

Photo by Lee N.

Ankeny, Sheldahl, Slater, Madrid, Woodward

Art and nature collide on the beautiful 25-mile High Trestle Trail between Ankeny and Woodward. A canopy of trees shades you from the sun as you cycle to the iconic and award-winning Trestle Bridge. Standing 13 stories tall and half a mile long, the bridge offers a grand view of the Des Moines River Valley from beneath angular steel frames. Although the bridge is the focal point of the trail, there are plenty of places to eat, drink, shop, and camp along the route. Rider favorites include the Flat Tire Lounge in Madrid and the Whistlin’ Donkey in Woodward.

6. Raccoon River Valley Trail

Rideworthy Routes: Raccoon River Valley Trail, Central Iowa

Waukee, Adel, Redfield, Linden, Panora, Yale, Herndon, Jamaica, Dawson, Perry, Minburn, Dallas Center

The 89-mile Raccoon River Valley Trail loops through several small towns and the Des Moines suburbs – meaning you can start and end your ride from almost anywhere along the trail. Must-stops for refreshments include Bunkers Dunkers Bakery in JeffersonEthel’s Restaurant and Bar in YalePJ’s Drive-In in Panora and the bike-friendly Hotel Pattee in Perry that doubles as a perfect overnight stop. Many rides are held on the trail throughout the year, but the most popular is the annual BACooN Ride in June which features bacon food items at stops along the trail.

7. Sauk Rail Trail

Rideworthy Routes: Sauk Rail Trail, West Central Iowa

Photo Courtesy Sauk Rail Trail Facebook

Lake View, Carnarvon, Breda, Maple River, Carroll

The Sauk Rail Trail takes you 33 miles from Lake View to Carroll in western Iowa, with the opportunity for stops every few miles at local watering holes. Check out rider favorites The Angry Beaver in Maple RiverRed’s Place in BredaThe Bar in Lake View and B&S’s in Carroll. A two-day ride is easy to achieve with bike-friendly hotels like Boulders Inn & Suites or the Carrollton Inn on either end of the route. Check out Thursday nights on the trail for the weekly “T.H.I.R.S.T.” ride.

8. Three Rivers Trail

Rideworthy Routes: Three Rivers Trail, North Central Iowa

Photo Courtesy Three Rivers Trail Facebook

Rolfe, Bradgate, Rutland, Humboldt, Dakota City, Thor and Eagle Grove

Named for the fact that it crosses three area rivers, bikers on the Three Rivers Trail can view the west branch of the Des Moines River, the east branch of the Des Moines River and the Boone River. The 33-mile trail is a lovely mix of woodlands, grasslands, marshy areas and open prairie – and seeing wildlife is common.

9. Trout Run Trail

Rideworthy Routes: Trout Run Trail, Decorah Iowa

Decorah

The 11-mile Trout Run Trail provides a scenic trip around the city of Decorah. Much of the trail is flat, but you will find some sharp switchbacks and hills to challenge you as well. The trail crosses trout streams five times and runs next to the Decorah Trout Hatchery (where you can stop and feed the fish for just a quarter). The trail also passes by the world-famous Decorah Eagles nest. When you’re ready to take a break, head to the Whippy Dip for ice cream or Toppling Goliath for an ice cold beer (home of some of the best beers in the world, according to RateBeer). Stay overnight at the historic Hotel Winneshiek for a perfect end to the day.

10. Wabash Trace Nature Trail

Rideworthy Routes: Wabash Trace Nature Trail, Southwest Iowa

Council Bluffs, Mineola, Silver City, Malvern, Imogene, Shenandoah, Coin, Blanchard

The Wabash Trace is a converted railroad right-of-way that runs from Council Bluffs to Blanchard on the Iowa/Missouri border. A scenic adventure through Iowa’s countryside, this 62-mile trail creates a memorable experience. It’s one of Iowa’s longest and most popular rail trails as it travels through the unique Loess Hills and connects with the city trails in Council Bluffs. Every Thursday night, riders can join the Taco Ride from Council Bluffs to Mineola’s Tobey Jack Steakhouse and back.

 

Post originally seen on TravelIowa.com

Experience the Best℠ at Lichtsinn RV, the #1 Winnebago Dealer in North America for the last four consecutive years. Lichtsinn RV is located 1 mile north of Winnebago Industries in Forest City, IA and we proudly sell new Winnebago motorhomes and pre-owned RVs from various manufacturers. While at Lichtsinn RV, you can expect no delivery miles on new RVs, a complimentary half-day educational orientation of your RVexcellent guest reviews, an assigned support team from sales, parts, service and the business officesuperior accommodationsno-hassle pricing and competitive financing. See our extensive new and used inventory here.

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10 Hiking Trails in Iowa

Are you planning your trip to Forest City, Iowa for WIT Club’s Grand National Rally? If you are planning on taking the scenic route, make sure to check out these 10 hiking trails in Iowa and enjoy the beauty of our great state!

1. Wapsipinicon State Park

Wapsipincon State Park

Named by Fodor’s as one of the “10 Best Spring Hikes in the U.S.,” Wapsipinicon State Park is located just south of Anamosa. The 1.4 mile trail “provides the perfect touch of nature along the Wapsipinicon River bank,” according to Fodor’s. Streams throughout the park provide opportunities for kids – and adults – to indulge in some splashing. Visitors can also check out the park’s small caves.

2. Ledges State Park

Named for the sandstone “ledges” that rise up to 100 feet around Pea’s Creek, this popular park near Boone is home to 13 miles of scenic hiking trails. While most of the trails are steep, a fully accessible interpretive trail around Lost Lake is located at the southern part of the park. In addition to hiking, check out the Des Moines River Water Trail that goes through the park as well as the Central State Park Bike Route (along county roads) connecting Ledges to Big Creek State Park and Springbrook State Park.

3. Backbone State Park
Dundee State Park

Located near DundeeBackbone State Park is Iowa’s oldest state park and boasts more than 20 miles of multi-use trails. The Backbone Trail is less than a mile but provides rocky terrain unlike anywhere else in Iowa. Many park facilities were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s including cabins, a boat house, bridges and trails.

Pine Lake State Park

Located in EldoraPine Lake State Park offers more than 10 miles of trails. The southern shore of Lower Pine Lake boasts 250-year-old white pine trees. A self-guided nature trail runs between the Hogsback Picnic Area and the beach area. Trail brochures available at trail heads, the campground and the park office correspond to marked areas of interest on the trails.

5. Waubonsie State Park

Take a Hike: Waubonsie State Park, Hamburg Iowa

Located on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail near HamburgWaubonsie State Park’s trails feature scenic overlooks with views of four states. The popular Sunset Ridge Interpretive Trail gives visitors the chance to learn about native plants and trees as well as enjoy some of the best views in the park. For a true outdoor adventure, rent a camping cabin located in the park. If you are on the way up from Kansas, Missouri or south east Nebraska, Waubonsie State Park is the perfect stop for you!

6. Yellow River State Forest

Take a Hike: Yellow River State Forest, Harpers Ferry Iowa

Photo Courtesy Iowa DNR

The “Backpack Trail” at Yellow River State Forest in Harpers Ferry was once named Iowa’s best hiking trail by Outdoor magazine. Open year-round, the trails range from relatively easy to moderate. The Paint Creek Unit includes more than 25 miles of marked and maintained trails.

Harper’s Ferry is 2 and a half hours directly east on Highway 9. When you enter Forest City on Highway 9 make sure to stop by and say hi! Lichtsinn RV is located on the corner of highway 9 and 69.

7. Hillview Recreation Area

Take a Hike: Hillview Recreation Area, Hinton Iowa

In addition to a 6-mile network of hiking trails, this park near Hinton offers a little bit of everything for the outdoor enthusiast. Kids will enjoy visiting the resident elk herd and butterfly garden. After hiking, cool off at the beach at Hillview Pond or try dropping a line for a fish. The park also allows horseback riding, hunting, cross-country skiing and both campground and cabin camping. Visit in winter to try the snow tubing hill.

8. Hitchcock Nature Area

Take a Hike: Hitchcock Nature Area, Honey Creek Iowa

Explore some of the last remaining prairie remnants in Iowa with the 10 miles of trails at the Hitchcock Nature Area near Honey Creek. The trails range from easy ridgeline walks along the hilltops to steep climbs among rugged prairie terrain. The network of trails allows you to choose the length and difficulty you desire. The trails are open to hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. In the winter, Chute Trail is converted to a popular sledding hill.

9. Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt

Take a Hike: Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, Maxwell Iowa

Chichaqua Bottoms is the perfect place to bring young or beginning hikers. With their short, easy (yet scenic) hikes along the Skunk River near Maxwell, you’re never far from shelters. You’ll be able to view natural habitats including oxbow river channels, marshes and wetlands as well as native prairie remnants. Don’t miss the 100-foot-long Warren pony truss bridge – one of only 17 remaining bridges in Iowa of this unique design.

10. Pilot Knob State Park

Pilot Knob State Park is one of the oldest units in the state park system. It was dedicated in 1923. Standing atop the tower on “Pilot Knob,” visitors have a spectacular view. From the tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, one can see great expanses of some of the most fertile farmland in the world. After glaciers leveled the prairies of north-central Iowa, they deposited the rocks and earth that formed the hills and valleys that are now Pilot Knob. In earlier times, pioneers used the Pilot Knob as a guide as they traveled west in covered wagons, thus giving the park its name. An open air amphitheater, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, is surrounded by scenic woods.

Pilot Knob is located outside Forest City and is a great location for camping, hiking and bicycling.

Experience the Best℠ at Lichtsinn RV, the #1 Winnebago Dealer in North America for the last four consecutive years. Lichtsinn RV is located 1 mile north of Winnebago Industries in Forest City, IA and we proudly sell new Winnebago motorhomes and pre-owned RVs from various manufacturers. While at Lichtsinn RV, you can expect no delivery miles on new RVs, a complimentary half-day educational orientation of your RVexcellent guest reviews, an assigned support team from sales, parts, service and the business officesuperior accommodationsno-hassle pricing and competitive financing. See our extensive new and used inventory here.

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12 Terrific RV Parks in Iowa

Pilot Knob State ParkIowa’s scenic roadways and family-focused attractions make it a wonderful destination. In fact, it’s scenery is some of the finest in the Midwest. Whether you’re passing through or taking time off to explore the entire state, there are an abundance of beautiful campgrounds where you can stay the night.

Briggs Woods Park, Webster City

Briggs Woods is a gorgeous campground that’s situated on an 18-hole golf course. The nearby Boone River and Briggs Woods Lake offer swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The campground itself features 30 full hookup sites, modern showers, a playground, and horseshoes. Rates range from $20 to $25 per night.

Pilot Knob State Park, Forest City

Pilot Knob State Park is one of the oldest units in the state park system. It was dedicated in 1923. Standing atop the tower on “Pilot Knob,” visitors have a spectacular view. From the tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, one can see great expanses of some of the most fertile farmland in the world. After glaciers leveled the prairies of north-central Iowa, they deposited the rocks and earth that formed the hills and valleys that are now Pilot Knob. In earlier times, pioneers used the Pilot Knob as a guide as they traveled west in covered wagons, thus giving the park its name. An open air amphitheater, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, is surrounded by scenic woods.

The park has excellent trails for hikers and horseback riders. In winter, a warming house with electricity and heat provides comfort for ice skaters, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and ice fishermen. Hidden within the 700-acre park and enclosed by abrupt banks is Dead Man’s Lake, a four-acre floating sphagnum bog, the only one of its kind in Iowa. This is a botanist’s delight, bordered by native trees, shrubs and flowering plants. Waterfowl feed and breed in the tall grasses. Three species of pond lilies grow here, one found nowhere else in Iowa. Trees native to the Pilot Knob area include walnut, ash, basswood, wild cherry, burr oak, aspen, white oak and red oak. Pilot Knob’s natural features are so significant, the majority of the park has been dedicated as a state preserve.

Clear Lake State Park, Clear Lake 

Clear Lake State Park is located on the southeast corner of the beautiful 3,643 acre Clear Lake, one of the major outdoor recreation features of northern Iowa. Although the state park is only 55 acres, it offers a tremendous diversity of recreational opportunities due to its location on the lake as well as its natural beauty.

This park is characterized by rolling ground with open, mature groves of oak trees. Several small draws and thickets provide habitat for owls, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, rabbits, many species of songbirds and an occasional deer. Scenic Woodford Island is a 3 acre island managed primarily for wildlife habitat and is an excellent spot for fishing.

 Newton KOA, Newton

If you’re looking for RV rentals, RVshare has a handful of rentals in the Newton area. Then, head to the Newton KOA and enjoy a peaceful retreat for the whole family. It’s quiet and serene, yet full of things to do. The local pond offers fishing, while the campground pool is a nice place to take a dip. During the summer, they have weekend ice cream socials, fishing tournaments, and more. Campground amenities include fire pits, a meeting room, dog park, and a game room. Rates vary from $29 to $44 per night.

Lazy Acres, Urbana

If you’re looking for a family-friendly campground with plenty of space, Lazy Acres is the park for you. With 60 RV sites (29 of which have full hookups), and tons of activities for kids, your family will have more than enough space to spread out, run around, and enjoy the outdoors. Mini golf, paddle boats, fishing, and train rides are just a few of the things to do at Lazy Acres. Rates start at $33.50.

Morwood Campground and Resort, Hazelton

Morwood Campground is a highly-rated RV park in northeastern Iowa. It has an average rating of 4-5 stars across FacebookGoogle, and TripAdvisor. The park features large sites and pull-through lots, most of which have electrical hookups. All sites have water hookups. There are also two dumping stations, a laundromat, and a convenience store on the property. Families can enjoy hay rides, mini golf, horseshoes, volleyball, or swimming in the heated pool. Rates start at $27 for a site with water and electric.

Fieldstone RV Park, Arnold’s Park

Just a stone’s throw away from the Iowa Great Lakes and area attractions, Fieldstone RV Park offers the perfect home base after a day of adventure. The Park itself abuts the Emerald Hills Golf Course and a public park and boat ramp. Amenities include full hookups, fire rings, a laundry room, and a clubhouse. For outdoor activities, you can head into town and visit the amusement park or race track, enjoy fine dining and shopping, or partake in watersports on the lake. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, you can head back to the RV and watch movies using the free Wi-Fi. Rates start at $35.

 Red Barn Resort, Lansing

You’re definitely going to want to spend a few days at the Red Barn Resort. This beautifully landscaped retreat offers a host of RV sites with full hookups and fire rings. It’s just a few miles west of Lansing, where you can enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming in the Mississippi River. Best of all, the campground has an on-site bar and grille inside an antique barn from the 1900’s. You can sit on the patio and enjoy a cold drink and a hot meal while the kids explore the playground below. How’s that for relaxation? Rates start at $30 per night for full hookups with 30-amp service.

Shady Oaks RV Campground, Marshalltown

Shady Oaks is a privately-owned campground that’ll have you camping under the towering Bur Oak trees. As one of the oldest campgrounds in the state, its oaks have even made it into the Register of Famous and Historic Trees. One of the biggest draws of Shady Oaks is its massive, 12-level treehouse, where you and the family can get lost amongst the canopy and the maze of structures. It features running water, electricity, a grill, porch swings, and a spiral staircase. Park amenities include 13 sites with full hookups and pull-through spots for big rigs. Contact them for rates and reservations.

 On-Ur-Wa RV Park, Onawa

On-Ur-Wa is a Good Sam Club RV Park, located just miles before you hit the Iowa/Nebraska state line. Onawa itself has quite a few attractions, like the widest Main Street in the U.S., the Historic Iowa Theater, and a handful of museums and places to shop. On-Ur-Wa has large, pleasant RV sites with full hookups. Tire out the kids at the recreation area, which features soccer, horseshoes, and more. Amenities include free wi-fi, laundry, RV supplies, and a small wine kiosk. Rates start at $32 for full hookups with 20-amp service.

Timberline Campground, Waukee

A short drive from Des Moines, Timberline is convenient to the city and surrounding areas. Nearby attractions include AdventurelandScience Center of IowaBlank Park Zoo, and, of course, everything Des Moines has to offer. Facilities include a game room, playground, pool, on-site store, volleyball and basketball courts, and more. Rates start at $44 for full hookups.

 Deer Run Resort, Elkader

Deer Run is a premier RV resort in northeast Iowa. It’s immaculately manicured grounds include room for RVs of all sizes. Each site is paved and includes full hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring. The six-acre lake provides a serene backdrop to the greenery of the park. Deer Run has a beautiful bathhouse with heated floors, air conditioning, and laundry machines. Family fun awaits you down the street in Elkader with activities like archery, bowling, kayaking, shopping, and more. Rates vary from $35 to $41.

Blog originally published on TravelIowa.com