The 29th state is known as the Hawkeye State. The state rock is the geode and the flower is the wild rose. The rich farmland was formed by glaciers centuries ago.
Scenic byways and historic routes include Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, the Lewis and Clark Trail, Great River Road National Scenic Byway, and the Mormon Trail. The Loess Hills area has fertile soil and a good cross-section of prairie plants and wildlife. The Sergeant Floyd Monument in Sioux City commemorates the only fatality of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It is the first registered National Historic Landmark. The Iowa segment of the Great River Road passes through national wildlife refuges. You can also observe the workings of a huge system of locks and dams. The Mormon Trail traveled through Keokuk all the way to Council Bluffs where the Kanesville Tabernacle still stands.
There are 200 acres of parks, prairies, wetlands, and trails around the Big Sioux River. In Audubon there is the John James Audubon Bird Walk. The Bricker Botanical Center in Shenandoah displays outdoor gardens complete with butterflies and lots of birds. The Dragoon Trail between Fort Dodge and Lake Red Rock takes you past several state parks. A 141 acre living museum in Dallas Center features trees and shrubs of the prairie. It is called the Brenton Arboretum and has walking trails complete with bridges. Near Leon the Little River Lake and Recreation Area offers camping, water sports, hiking, and cross-country skiing. At Decorah there are bluffs and palisades along the Upper Iowa River. Bird watching, water sports, hiking, and mountain biking are popular. Muscatine is on the Mississippi River. At Lock and Dam Number 16 you can watch for eagles. The Vander Veer Botanical Garden and Conservatory in Davenport is a historic botanical garden that has the largest public rose garden in the area. The Villages of Van Buren gives us parks, lakes, forests, and wetlands.
A unique feature of Iowa are the Barn Quilts. Found all over the state, these are barns with quilt patterns painted on them. From a rest stop I visited once (in Iowa), I learned that quilts occasionally have secrets in their patterns. For instance, the Underground Railroad used quilts to relay times and places for runaway slaves to meet and hopefully be transported to safety.
A variety of people have made their homes in Iowa. Communities of Amish, Swedes, Germans, and Danes are among those found here. Of course Native Americans are here too. Visiting each area gives us an idea of how different types of people banded together and survived in the prairies.
Iowa has lots of state parks and national areas. Just about any outdoor activity you are interested in is available here. All you have to do is decide what section of the state to visit and get out into nature. Give it a try. Links are below to help you make your decisions. When you get back let me know what you did. We are all interested.
Iowa Official Website
National Historic Landmarks
National Park Service
Iowa State Parks
Department of Natural Resources
Offbeat Tourist Attractions